Participatory Design in an Era of Participation : Introduction to volume 2
Participatory Design is a diverse collection of principles and practices aimed at making technologies, tools, environments, businesses and social institutions more responsive to human needs. A central tenet of Participatory Design (PD) is the direct involvement of people in the co-design of things and technologies they use and live with.
This second volume of the conference proceedings includes Short Papers, and the Workshops and the Interactive Exhibitions submissions. The theme for Participatory Design Conference 2016 is ‘Participatory Design in an Era of Participation’. Over 25 years after the first PDC in 1990, participation and co-creation have become essential features of design and research into technology. Living in an era of participation prompts critical questions around the goals and practices of involving people in diverse aspects of developing, redesigning and using IT. The distribution and promise of information technologies cut across emerging societal challenges at various levels. Sharing economy, crowdfunding and participatory cultures create new forms of engagement that challenge traditional ideas of participation. Public engagement in radical social innovation is used to address shrinking finances to public services, which has resulted in citizeninvolving projects and labs in various domains. Maker technologies, notions of hacking and shared data, are promoting civic engagement with technology innovation that changes the material and socio-economic contexts of production. At the same time, centralization of the Internet, big data and large-scale infrastructuring challenge the core democratic ideals of PD. The Participatory Design Conferences (PDC) continue to be the main gathering point of the PD community and an important venue for international discussion of the collaborative, social and political dimensions of technology innovation and use. PDC is a premier venue for presenting research on the direct involvement of people in the design, development, implementation and appropriation of information and communication technology. Held every two years since 1990, PDC brings together a multidisciplinary and international group of researchers and practitioners from multiple fields. These include, but are not limited to, Human-Computer Interaction, CSCW (computer supported cooperative work), Co-Design, Design Research, CSCL (computer supported collaborative learning), ICT4D (information and communication technology for development), design anthropology, design psychology, design Industry and the Arts. The conference has helped to broaden participatory approaches in design around a variety of arenas including information and communication technologies, work, healthcare, learning, new media and digital culture, community settings, architecture and the urban environment, visual communication, interaction design and service design to mention some of the fields involved.
The Short Papers programme captures the diversity and matters that concern participatory design researchers now and in the future by highlighting the various meanings, approaches and practices of participation in design across our community. For the 2016 conference, the submission and review process for the PDC Short Papers track was undertaken completely in parallel with the Full Papers and following the same procedure. Unlike previous conferences, the deadline for Short Papers was the same as its longer siblings, and the review process involved the same Revise and Resubmit process. A total of 61 papers were submitted, 32 of which were invited to be revised for the second round of reviews. following the final round of reviews, 15 Short Papers were accepted for presentation and publication.
The 15 Short Papers are of course short (four pages in length) but full of ideas, energy and insight around contemporary issues and challenges facing participatory design researchers and practitioners. Our 15 Short Papers have been grouped into three themes related to the aspects of participation that they address.
• In “Why We Do Participatory Design”, we have five papers that provide different perspectives on the motivations, assumptions and values inherent in participatory design research and practice. Here we have examples of papers that provide reflections on the early history of work presented at this conference series and how that has shaped the research community, through to novel ways of conceptualising participatory design and those engaged in its processes.
• In “Expanding the ‘How’ of Participatory Design”, five papers provide insights into techniques and methods that support novel perspectives on how participatory design activities might be practiced or reflected upon. This includes examples that should benefit practitioners and researchers who wish to think through the interpersonal qualities and responsibilities within participatory processes, to explore more deeply the process of participation, and open up participatory engagements to include new forms of media.
• Finally, in “Participatory Design With and Within Communities” we have five papers that provide insightful examples of ‘with whom’ contemporary participatory design activities are being undertaken. Here we have examples of participatory design being conducted at the scale of low income households, to neighbourhoods, geographically tied communities and distributed communities of practice. In different ways these papers evidence the growing diversification of the ‘sites’ where participation in design is taking place, and the ways in which the assumptions and practices within the participatory design community may need to be challenged and reimagined in these new contexts.
In placing these 15 papers into these themes we hope to have provided an organising structure that allows for interesting reflections by and discussions between the PDC participants and, we hope, between the authors themselves. Of course these themes do only little justice to the richness and diversity of the works, so we encourage you to read and engage with each of these individual contributions in their own right.
14 workshops were selected from 31 submitted ideas for pre-conference activities, and they cover a wide range of topics. All the accepted proposals involve interaction and participation, but there is a variation in the demands being placed on participants and the expected contributions of the organisers. Thus the programme is divided into eleven ‘exploratory workshops’ where participants are expected to make substantial contributions (as a condition of inclusion) and the goal is to explore a space together, and three ‘learning workshops’ where participants provide less input to gain entry and can expect organizers to guide a collaborative learning activity. The workshops vary between reflective analyses of issues and discourses ‘within’ PD, to explorations of particular domains where PD is applied, to opportunities to explore our own practice and ways of being in PD. The workshops help to create a porous boundary to the community where people whose interests overlap with, but are not centred on, PD (e.g. practitioners and stakeholders in key domains) can engage with the community and learn more about the range of ideas and approaches that they might consider. Interactive Exhibitions is a new format at PDC and aims to enable the sharing of concrete participatory design experiences in an interactive format during the main PDC 2016 conference program. Submissions were divided into three tracks – Research, Industry cases, and Arts and Design – and the format involves the multi-sensory presentation of material (visual, audio, physical, etc.) that will be on exhibition for two full days during the conference.
In addition, mini-workshops lasting 30 minutes are held where an audience of conference participants is invited into a concrete participatory design encounter. The Interactive Exhibitions received 13 submissions in the Research category of which 7 were accepted; 10 submissions in the Industry Cases category of which 6 were accepted; and 12 submissions in the Arts & Design category of which 6 were accepted. We hope this new format will provide for lively, engaging interaction and spur fruitful conversions around PD.
The Doctoral Colloquium received 17 applications of mostly middle to advanced stage of doctoral studies. The accepted twelve submissions cover a range of core PD topics: from locality based community participation to digital sharing among peers, from designing with and for vulnerable user groups to augmenting maker movement initiatives, from the design of physical goods to design of services and digital infrastructures. The discussions in Aarhus focus on key doctoral research questions scoping a PhD project, planning and conduct of project ts in a way that helps to use them in PhD research, choice of theories, methods and analytical techniques, and how to work theory and empirical research together.
We would like to thank all the people who contributed to making this conference possible. All the authors who submitted papers, the chairs of various committees, the program committee members, the workshop
organisers, the local organizing committee, the student volunteers, and all of you who in one way or the other contributed to making this conference possible.
Lastly thanks to all you who participate in the conference!
Welcome to Aarhus – Welcome to PDC 2016
Claus Bossen, Rachel Charlotte Smith, Anne Marie Kanstrup,
Liesbeth Huybrecths, John Vines, and Keld Bødker