The question of who gets to contribute to design futures and technology innovation has become a topic of conversation across HCI, CSCW, and other computing communities. This conversation has grave implications for communities that often find themselves an afterthought in technology design, and who coincidentally could benefit most from technological interventions in response to societal oppression. To explore this topic, we examined `futuring' through co-designed speculative design fictions as methods to envision utopian and dystopian futures. In a case study, we examined technology's role in the imagined futures of youth participants of a Chicago summer design program. We highlight emerging themes and contribute an analysis of remote co-design through an Afrofuturism lens. Our analysis shows that concepts of utopian futures and technologies to support those futures are still heavily laden with dystopian realities of racism and poverty. We discuss ways that speculative design fictions and futuring may serve to address inclusivity in concept generation for new technologies and provide recommendations for conducting design techniques remotely with historically excluded populations.
Ranging from subtle to overt, unintentional to systemic, navigating racism is additional everyday work for many people. Yet the needs of people who experience racism have been overlooked as a fertile ground for better technology. Through a series of workshops we call Foundational Fiction, we engaged BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in participatory design to identify qualities of technology that can support people coping before, during, and after a racist interaction. Participants developed storyboards for digital tools that offer advice, predict consequences, identify racist remarks and intervene, educate both targets and perpetrators about interpersonal and systemic racism, and more. In the paper we present our workshop method utilizing interactive fiction, participants' design concepts, prevalent themes (reducing uncertainty and offering comfort), and we provide critical analysis of the complexity of technology in these contexts. This work identifies specific opportunities for exploring anti-racist social tools.
In human-computer interaction (HCI) studies, bias in the gender representation of participants can jeopardize the generalizability of findings, perpetuate bias in data driven practices, and make new technologies dangerous for underrepresented groups. Key to progress towards inclusive and equitable gender practices is diagnosing the current status of bias and identifying where it comes from. In this mixed-methods study, we interviewed 13 HCI re-searchers to identify the potential bias factors, defined a systematic data collection procedure for meta-analysis of participant gender data, and created a participant gender dataset from 1147 CHI pa-pers. Our analysis provided empirical evidence for the underrepresentation of women, the invisibility of non-binary participants, deteriorating representation of women in MTurk studies, and characteristics of research topics prone to bias. Based on these findings, we make concrete suggestions for promoting inclusive community culture and equitable research practices in HCI.
Gender input forms act as gates to accessing information, websites, and services online. Non-binary people regularly have to interact with them, though many do not offer non-binary gender options. This results in non-binary individuals having to either choose an incorrect gender category or refrain from using a site or service—which is occasionally infeasible (e.g., when accessing health services). We tested five different forms through a survey with binary and non-binary participants (n=350) in three contexts—a digital health form, a social media website, and a dating app. Our results indicate that the majority of participants found binary ``male or female'' forms exclusive and uncomfortable to fill out across all contexts. We conclude with design considerations for improving gender input forms and consequently their underlying gender model in databases. Our work aims to sensitize designers of (online) gender web forms to the needs and desires of non-binary people.
While multiple studies suggest that female-identified participants are more likely to experience cybersickness in virtual reality (VR), our systematic review of 71 eligible VR publications (59 studies and 12 surveys) pertaining to gender and cybersickness reveals a number of confounding factors in study design (e.g., a variety of technical specifications, tasks, content), a lack of demographic data, and a bias in participant recruitment. Our review shows an ongoing need within VR research to more consistently include and report on women's experiences in VR to better understand the gendered possibility of cybersickness. Based on the gaps identified in our systematic review, we contribute study design recommendations for future work, arguing that gender considerations are necessary at every stage of VR study design, even when the study is not ‘about’ gender.
While makerspaces are often discussed in terms of a utopian vision of democratization and empowerment, many have shown how these narratives are problematic. There remains optimism for the future of makerspaces, but there is a gap in knowledge of how to articulate their promise and how to pursue it. We present a reflexive and critical reflection of our efforts as leaders of a university makerspace to articulate a vision, as well as our experience running a maker fashion show that aimed to address some specific critiques. We analyze interviews of participants from the fashion show using feminist utopianism as a lens to help us understand an alternate utopian narrative for making. Our contributions include insights about how a particular making context embodies feminist utopianism, insights about the applicability of feminist utopianism to makerspace research and visioning efforts, and a discussion about how our results can guide makerspace leaders and HCI researchers.
Affirmative consent is the idea that someone must ask for, and earn, enthusiastic approval before interacting with someone else. For decades, feminist activists and scholars have used affirmative consent to theorize and prevent sexual assault. In this paper, we ask: Can affirmative consent help to theorize online interaction? Drawing from feminist, legal, and HCI literature, we introduce the feminist theory of affirmative consent and use it to analyze social computing systems. We present affirmative consent’s five core concepts: it is voluntary, informed, revertible, specific, and unburdensome. Using these principles, this paper argues that affirmative consent is both an explanatory and generative theoretical framework. First, affirmative consent is a theoretical abstraction for explaining various problematic phenomena in social platforms—including mass online harassment, revenge porn, and problems with content feeds. Finally, we argue that affirmative consent is a generative theoretical foundation from which to imagine new design ideas for consentful socio-technical systems.
Self-care apps offer a wide variety of different therapy paradigms, pedagogies and concepts for people to maintain and make sense of their mental health. However, as human-made artefacts, these apps are being imbued with their designers' interests, opinions, biases and assumptions about self-care. This paper is interested in making these (often) implicit notions visible. After selecting 69 apps from the Google Play Store, we use Feminist Content Analysis to investigate the store descriptions of these apps: Inductively through thematic analysis and deductively through charting concepts found within the descriptions. Our findings indicate that commercial self-care apps portray themselves as "future creating" tools for individual self-discovery, but they also create narratives that propagate an overly simplistic, individualist and potentially harmful view of mental distress. We conclude this paper by sketching out alternative design considerations for how self-care apps can portray themselves and communicate in a more transparent, plurality-embracing fashion.
Sexual consent has undergone a transformation toward an “enthusiastic” feminist model that emphasizes consent as an ongoing and voluntary process of negotiation and affirmation. This paper considers how such a model can advance understandings of consent in HCI research and design in relation to embodied interactions with emerging technologies that also occur outside of sexual interactions. We apply the popular “FRIES” model of sexual consent (Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic and Specific) to three areas of embodied interaction: 1) bodily-play interactions, 2) persuasive interactions with smart technologies, and 3) intimate interactions with anthropomorphized devices. Based on erotic play practices, we contribute a “TEASE” process guideline (Traffic lights, Establish ongoing dialogue, Aftercare, Safewords, and Explicate soft/hard limits) to advance consensual practice in HCI and develop implementation scenarios.
Data-centered participatory design research projects—wherein researchers collaborate with community members for the purpose of gathering, generating, or communicating data about the community or their causes—can place epistemic burdens on minoritized or racialized groups, even in projects focused on social justice outcomes. Analysis of epistemic burden encourages researchers to rethink the purpose and value of data in community organizing and activism more generally. This paper describes three varieties of epistemic burden drawn from two case studies based on the authors’ previous work with anti-police brutality community organizations. The authors conclude with a discussion of ways to alleviate and avoid these issues through a series of questions about participatory research design. Ultimately, we call for a reorientation of knowledge production away from putative design solutions to community problems and toward a more robust interrogation of the power dynamics of research itself.
Smart technology turns the home into an active agent, which shifts the power structures within the household. This paper examines how initiators of smart technology insert their vision of the good life into households, and how these technologies exert power over the residents. Through a thematic analysis of interviews with five households, we consider Foucault’s theory on disciplinary power to examine how smart home technologies shape the experience of the home by shifting the flow of information and thereby reify power structures. Results indicate that the implementation of smart technology can affect access to shared spaces, constrain interactions, and predefine practices thereby establishing hierarchies within the household. We turn the discussion towards ethical challenges concerning control, whose problems the smart home is concerned with, and how the smart home embeds itself in the household. We conclude with design considerations and future work.
The menopause transition involves bodily-rooted, socially-shaped changes, often in a context of medicalisation that marginalises people based on their age and gender. With the goal of addressing this social justice matter with a participatory design approach, we started to cultivate partnerships with people going through menopause. This paper reports on interviews with 12 women and a design workshop with three. Our data analysis highlights their experiences from a holistic perspective that reclaims the primacy of the body and acknowledges the entanglement of the physical and the psychosocial. Participants' design concepts show how design can come close the body to make space for menopause experiences, recognising and transforming them. We discuss how HCI can actively engage with the body to promote appreciation for it during menopause, and call for design that accompanies people in resisting the medicalisation of menopause as an enactment of social justice in everyday life.
Fertility tracking applications are technologies that collect sensitive information about their users i.e. reproductive potential. For many, these apps are an affordable solution when trying to conceive or managing their pregnancy. However, intimate data are not only collected but also shared beyond users knowledge or consent. In this paper, we explore the privacy risks that can originate from the mismanagement, misuse, and misappropriation of intimate data, which are entwined in individual life events and in public health issues such as abortion and (in)fertility. We look at differential vulnerabilities to enquire data’s vulnerability and that of ‘data subjects’. We introduce the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and how it addresses fertility data. We evaluate the privacy of 30 top ‘fertility apps' through their privacy notices and tracking practices. Lastly, we discuss the regulations and fertility data as critical to the future design of tracking technologies and privacy rights.