Making the Social Tangible: “Explorations in Social Interaction Design” at CHI 2013

meSch partners Luigina Ciolfi and Eva Hornecker were among the organisers of the workshop “Explorations in Social Interaction Design” which was held on April 28th as part of CHI 2013, the 30th conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, held in Paris (France). The theme of the workshop was exploring how online social interactions, social data and social networking connections can be connected and/or represented through tangible and material artefacts and interactions. The challenge for the participants was to explore both possibilities for design and new ways of thinking about networked interactions in the physical world, instead of purely in digital form. These themes resonate strongly with the meSch core objectives, as meSch has the goal of designing, developing and deploying tools to create tangible interactive experiences in museums and heritage sites. These interactive experiences will be personally meaningful, sensorily rich and socially inclusive experiences for visitors and will bridge the gap between digital collections and the social and material context provided by the museums.“Ignite-style” presentations on exploratory work in Social Interaction Design.

All participants delivered brief “Ignite-style” presentation (6 slides, 20 seconds each), outlining their views on the topic or related work they have conducted. The initial work conducted by the meSch SHU team at Sheffield General Cemetery was presented as a challenge to link digital content relating to Sheffield’s social history to “smart” tangible interactives to discover the space. The meSch team at SHU has established a collaboration with the Sheffield General Cemetery Trust, a volunteer organisation managing this heritage site and offering guided tours and published material on the history of the cemetery. The SHU researchers are currently exploring design concepts and ideas regarding how meSch technology could support visitors and volunteers exploring the site.

“Ignite-style” presentations on exploratory work in Social Interaction Design

All participants delivered brief “Ignite-style” presentation (6 slides, 20 seconds each), outlining their views on the topic or related work they have conducted. The initial work conducted by the meSch SHU team at Sheffield General Cemetery was presented as a challenge to link digital content relating to Sheffield’s social history to “smart” tangible interactives to discover the space. The meSch team at SHU has established a collaboration with the Sheffield General Cemetery Trust, a volunteer organisation managing this heritage site and offering guided tours and published material on the history of the cemetery. The SHU researchers are currently exploring design concepts and ideas regarding how meSch technology could support visitors and volunteers exploring the site.

Chris Speed (University of Edinburgh), delivering his ignite-style presentation

Chris Speed (University of Edinburgh), delivering his ignite-style presentation

From brainstorming to design concepts mock-ups

In the second part of the workshop, participants formed small groups to brainstorm around “analogues”: evocative image/keyword cards describing social interactions that are possible both online and offline. The cards were discussed through three lenses: the bodies, the materials and the practices that are linked or can be linked to such interactions.

Brainstorming around “analogues”

Brainstorming around “analogues”

Each group then conducted a quick ethnography at different locations in Paris, observing social interactions in the physical environment and discussing their potential connection to digital social networking. After these “inspiration” activities, the groups worked into the design and quick mock-up of design ideas that were then presented to the entire workshop.
Design concept mock-ups

Design concept mock-ups

A successful and productive workshop

The workshop was an ideal venue to discuss the challenges of connecting materiality and tangibility in interaction to digital and networked social connections. It was exploratory in nature, however the results were conductive of productive discussions between participants, and the conversation will continue remotely as a joint publication will be prepared. Full information on this publication will be published on the meSch website as soon as it is available.

More on the workshop

The workshop “Explorations in Social Interaction Design” was held on April 28th as part of CHI 2013 in Paris. This conference is held annually by the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI). Professor Elisa Giaccardi (who is also a member of the meSch Advisory Board) and her colleagues at TU Delft ID StudioLab organised the structure of the workshop and facilitated the exercises.