Keynote Speakers

We are very pleased to announce the keynote speakers for C&T 2011: Geraldine Fitzpatrick and Eric Gordon.

Geraldine Fitzpatrick

Vienna University of Technology, Austria

Inscribing Community by Design: Reflecting on Older People and Participation

Geraldine FitzpatrickMaturing Web 2.0 and pervasive technologies provide new ways of engaging community participation, as evidenced by the many excellent contributions to the C&T conference series. However, who we think these technologies are for, and how we design for them, can be radically influenced by how we conceptualise people and issues, whether implicitly or explicitly. This is particularly so with older people, for example, where notions of aging as physiological decline and increased health problems lead to technology solutions that are often driven by accessibility and/or care monitoring needs. But older people are people too and newer developmental theories of aging suggest quite different roles for technology and for active community participation and indeed community contribution. Whether digital native or digital immigrant, people will use technologies to participate when it makes sense for them, as will be illustrated by case study vignettes with older people, drawn from YouTube conversations, and Wii game play, among others. The same may well be true for other groups who are currently under-represented or not well served in notions of community and technology use.  Drawing from this case, I want to conclude with some broader reflections on the power we hold as designers to shape the way people and values are inscribed in our technologies, and the responsibilities this entails, not just to evolve new value-centred ways of doing design but to evolve new value-centred practices around being mindful reflective practitioners.

Geraldine Fitzpatrick is Professor of Technology Design and Assessment and leads the Human Computer Interaction group in the Institute for Technology Assessment and Design at Vienna University of Technology in Austria. Prior to this, she was Director of the Interact Lab at the University of Sussex, and has worked as a user experience consultant at Sapient, London, and a senior research fellow at the Distributed Systems Technology Centre and the Centre for Online Health in Australia. She also has a clinical background, having worked as a nurse and midwife in the early part of her career. Her research is at the intersection of social and computer sciences. She is particularly interested in how we design pervasive, tangible and Web 2.0 technologies to fit in with everyday contexts of work, play and daily life, with a particular interest in technology-support for health and well-being, and supporting social interaction and collaboration. She has a published book and over 80 refereed journal and conference publications in diverse areas such as pervasive computing, CSCW, HCI, e-learning, and health informatics. She also serves in many editorial and committee roles, including associate editor of the CSCW journal and papers/notes co-chair for CHI 2010 and CHI 2011.

Eric Gordon

Emerson College, Boston, USA

The Challenge of Designing Local Engagement for Networked Communities

Eric GordonDigital networks are changing how people expect to interact with one another and the world around them. From desktop browsing to location-aware social networks, for a growing amount of people, access to other people and information is fast, convenient, archivable and sharable. As people become accustomed to this, increasingly, they expect that those affordances be translated to their (offline) lives. Face-to-face engagement is influenced by expectations born of digital practices. For many, being local means having access to a global database of information and people. This presents a fascinating design challenge. Being local is not only defined by its limits. As such, when designers, scholars and community leaders seek to bring technologies to bear on local life, they need to consider how global networks and their corresponding practices are transforming what people want out of local connections.

The field of Communities and Technologies needs to understand both the malleability of technology and also the flexibility of community. A community is not a fixed category; it is constantly in flux as people struggle to marry their expectations of social connections and local life with the technological and social realities in which they engage. The very core of Communities and Technologies should be the challenge of working across two moving targets and inventing sustainable design strategies that acknowledge the flexibility of communities and the technologies they use to invent themselves. Good design should consider networked interactions as they correspond with face-to-face interactions, and advance strategies of local engagement that cut across the online and offline divide.

In this talk, Gordon will outline an approach to designing for local engagement and evaluating outcomes that incorporates a wide variety of communication contexts, from the informal face-to-face gathering, to the purely networked, to the official public meeting. Each context presents unique problems of trust, accountability and power, which should be considered design problems, not obstacles. Gordon proposes a comprehensive approach to designing for local engagement that incorporates technological tools that merge existing contexts and stakeholders, all within a framework that is participatory and sustainable.

Eric Gordon is a scholar of new media, with research interests in civic media, location-based media, and urban design. He is an associate professor in the department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College. And he is the director of the Engagement Game Lab ( where he focuses on the design and research of digital games and social software that foster local civic engagement. He is the co-author of a new book about location-based media called Net Locality: Why Location Matters in a Networked World (Blackwell Publishing, 2011) and is the author of The Urban Spectator: American Concept Cities From Kodak to Google (Dartmouth, 2010).