Interaction Design Workshop at NordiCHI 2012

Call for Participation

Future InteractionsUsing Critical Design Approaches to Explore Urban Data Transactions

This interaction design workshop, at NordiCHI 2012 in Copenhagen, will address the question of how we, as individuals, might gain value from the exchange of data on a near-future urban setting. Together with a rapid ethnographic study of data exchange, the workshop will adopt a critical design approach as a means to reveal and examine potential issues around the design for this new landscape. Critical design [1] presents design as a catalyst or provocation for thought. It is a strategy for exploring the space that lies tantalizingly beyond the current and the now through the creation of “design fictions” [2]. At the core of Critical Design is the attempt to challenge our assumptions and preconceptions about the role that products and services play in everyday life.


This is an active, interdisciplinary workshop encouraging dialogue between researchers, technologists and design practitioners who are interested in forming collaborative links. Through the generation of design scenarios, participants will focus on the possible human-level interactions that will occur during these activities. These interactions will be explored through the creation of lo-fi prototypes. Participants will consider and discuss the merits and potential uses of this kind of approach.  It is hoped that new partnerships will be formed with the aim of producing tangible “speculative” or “critical” design outputs as means of exploring future-orientated interaction design scenarios.

Context: The Data-Rich Urban Environment

If the promise of research in the fields of Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing, and the Internet of Things, are realized, then we are rapidly heading towards a world populated by sentient, interconnected objects. The workshop will address how this new landscape will affect our human interactions with these near-future products and services? Furthermore, what will happen to the data we knowingly, or unknowingly, share in the course of our everyday living?

The beginnings of this near-future vision are happening now, characterised by now familiar scenarios such as the ability to track objects from manufacture to consumption, through to final re-cycling. New interactions are already emerging; from the humble store card that catalogues our buying patterns in the hope of selling us more of what it hopes we want, to the integrated travel card that offers us convenience and speed as we navigate urban transportation networks. On a similar trajectory is the growth of the sensor-rich environment, in this case pervasive computing is becoming more commonplace in urban environments. From the ubiquitous CCTV cameras to air pollution sensors, more and more data is being gathered about our behaviour patterns, rituals and preferences.

Theme: Creation and Consumption

As a result of these technological developments, data overload will become an increasingly important challenge for interaction designers. Data can tell us everything about what we did today, but it is design that can show how we might behave in the future.

The workshop will use the broad theme of gaining value from data exchange in a near-future urban setting as a design case study. To conclude, participants will debate the merits and potential uses of this kind of approach, and will consider future collaborations.

Design Methods: Rapid Ethnography and Critical Design

The workshop will employ (very) rapid ethnography as a means of gathering rich visual data from the surrounding urban space. This will involve the participants using camera phones to record examples of how data is currently exchanged, and in particular the “close” interactions associated with these transactions. The subsequent digital scrapbook will become a stimulus for participants’ discussion in the second phase of the workshop. In this next stage a “critical” or “speculative” design approach will be adopted.

Outcomes: concepts and collaborations

The short-term outcomes of the workshop will be the early concepts developed as part of the day’s activities. These will provide a tangible focus for new collaborations and partnerships. In the longer term, it is intended that this workshop will contribute to knowledge in the area of speculative and critical approaches to interaction design and human computer interaction (HCI), perhaps in the form of published outputs. It is also hoped that this workshop plays a part in community building within this area of interest.

Important Dates

(August 17th, 2012 – Submission deadline of workshop papers)
Note: there may still be places available – please email for more information.
October 14th, 2012 – Workshop at NordiCHI 2012

For submission details see the Participation page:

Workshop Organisers

Michael Smyth
Ingi Helgason
Centre for Interaction Design, Edinburgh Napier University Edinburgh, UK


[1]     Dunne, A. (1999) Hertzian Tales – Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience and Critical Design, RCA/CRD Research Publications, Royal College of Art, London
[2]     Bleecker, J. and Nova, N. (2009) A synchronicity: Design Fictions for Asynchronous Urban Computing, The Architectural League of New York