This October, Chalmers University and University of Gothenburg (Gothenburg, Sweden) hosted NordiCHI 2016, the biennial Nordic conference for CHI research. Sandjar Kozubaev, a PhD student in Digital Media presented a paper titled Stop Nigmas: Experimental Speculative Design through Pragmatic Aesthetics and Public Art. The paper was presented as part of the Future Scenarios, which was introduced at NordiCHI for the first time this year. There were six panelists representing various approaches to using future scenarios in HCI research, including researchers from Portugal, Finland, United Kingdom, Belgium and the USA. The panelists gave a short presentation on their paper which was followed by a discussion moderated by Dr. Sus Lundgren Lyckvi, an interaction design professor at Chalmers University of Technology, and the chair of the Futures Scenarios track. Here is how she describes the motivation behind including this track at NordiCHI 16:
“I wanted the special track, I guess for me, and people like me, because I think scenarios are a valuable tool, and I believe there are many others that enjoy the freedom you have in writing them (as opposed to when writing [traditional] papers). So the intention was to collect papers that provided clues, methods, insights, whatever, on how to go about in crafting them. The other aim was to collect a couple of scenarios with distinct aims, which others could try out, say in teaching, just to get familiar with working with fictions without going through the process of actually crafting a fiction themselves.”
Dr. Lundgren Lyckvi also pointed out that they received twenty submissions which was far more than they expected, especially for a new track.
Sandjar Kozubaev reflects on his experience at NordiCHI:
“This was my first experiences at any academic conference, not to mention of this caliber and I thoroughly enjoyed it. First, our panel was very lively and interesting. The research was very diverse covering issues of future of privacy, beekeeping, education, smart homes and hybrid cities. There has been much interest in speculative in critical design in recent years and the interest in this panel shows that within the HCI community, there is a lot of potential for fruitful research. One of the most memorable future scenario/design fiction projects to me was by Liz Edwards et al. In a paper titled Beebots-a-lula, Where’s My Honey?: Design Fictions and Beekeeping, the researchers explore the future of bee keeping by drawing inspiration from current beekeeping practices including knowledge transfer traditions, tools and instruments as well as the bees themselves. The project is a vivid illustration of how design fiction and future scenarios can be used to interrogate complex issues such as the environment agricultural practices.
Outside of the Future Scenarios panel, NordiCHI 16 offered a lot of high-quality research and inspiration ranging from poster presentations to keynote presentation. One of the most interesting ones to me was a presentation by Jacob Sherson who leads the project ScienceAtHome.org. In his presentation, Sherson shared how their project uses simple games to encourage players to contribute to citizen science projects in quantum physics. The research showed how players can develop solution strategies that algorithms cannot produce on their own.
I think it’s important for up-and-coming scholars to be exposed to the academic community outside of their home institutions early on. For me, this experience helped “calibrate” my expectations about how research is produced, socialized and disseminated within and outside of the academic community, and I hope this experience will make me a better researcher.”
The Future Experience track was a great success at NordiCHI 16 and although no formal announcement has been made organizers intend to include it in the program at NordiCHI 18.