Keynotes Speaker

Gilbert Cockton retired from academic employment in March 2021. He is a now an Emeritus Professor at both the University of Sunderland (Computer Science) and Northumbria University (Design). An ACM Distinguished Speaker, he received a SIGCHI Lifetime Service Award in 2020 and an IFIP Silver Core Award in 1998. He was served in several roles since 1985 in the British HCI Group, IFIP TC13, ACM, and ACM SIGCHI, including conference chair, track chair, awards committee chair, editorial roles, and committee positions. He has worked in Interaction Design for almost 40 years. His widely published HCI research has drawn on a multidisciplinary background: Humanities and Applied Human Science, Computer Science, and Design. He has worked in, for and with industry, public and third sector organizations, including direction of regional projects in support of the digital sector.

Tim Ingold’s notion of ‘meshworks’ has been highly influential across disciplines with a focus on material culture. It is one of many contemporary posthumanist theories of ‘assembling’ that direct our attention to both human and non-human agents and the fluid and dynamic relationships that form, endure, or disappear between them. Such theories include Assemblage Theory and Actor-Network Theory, and similar approaches that stress the entanglement within “things” that results over time from everyday interactions between people, places, and non-humans.

There are important differences between these theories and approaches, however. For Ingold, some fail “to answer the question of how … entities [i.e., people, places or non-humans] … actually fasten to each other”. This is also true of Human-Centred Design process models such as ISO9241-210, with its development phases and their co-products such as personas, applicable design guidance, low-fidelity prototypes, and usability-test reports. These co-products were added with other examples in the 2019 revision of this ISO standard. However, there are no documented methods that systematically transform a phase’s inputs into its outputs. For example, we know that a usability-test report will result from user testing of a low-fidelity prototype, but the test study’s design will draw on a range of project inputs and professional knowledge and experience. There is no way that a prototype and associated scenarios of use alone can be systematically translated into a usability-test report. Test study design is a creative knowledge-based practice. Implementing tests requires fine tuning and adaptation in response to the unexpected (which will happen). For both the design and implementation of user testing, fluid dynamic relationships form, endure, or fade between a project’s co-products and other vital resources such as the project team’s professional knowledge and expertise, human test participants, and the physical test set up and its instrumentation.

We need to pay explicit attention in Interaction Design to how connections are made between available resources that pre-exist or are created within development projects. Design work can be framed as forming a mesh of connections between a project’s resources. Good design avoids waste by forming effective explicit connections between resources. Each connection can be thought of as a hypothesis that may or may not emerge in usage. Human interactions with computers and the resulting user experiences are also meshworks in Ingold’s sense (HCI theories also frame these as fluid assemblages or entanglements). Successful design work results in worthwhile meshworks in use. 

In this talk I will show how concurrent progressions in Interaction Design can support modes of connection between resources within and across design arenas. Modes span a continuum from implicit to explicit to accommodate a range of creative, rational and hybrid practices. Concurrent design arenas replace linear development phases, but with similar content to such phases, e.g., those in ISO 9241-210. Rather than hoping to translate phase inputs to outputs in some scheduled systematic fashion, connections between two or more design arenas can be formed and reformed whenever resources make this possible and worthwhile. Longstanding HCI problems with connections, such as the Implications for Design of contextual research and the Downstream Utility of evaluation can be better addressed within concurrent progressions that continuously integrate through work that forms meshes across design arenas.

Margaret Burnett is a University Distinguished Professor at Oregon State University.  Her research focus is on people who are engaged in some form of problem-solving. She co-founded the area of end-user software engineering, which aims to enable computer users not trained in programming to improve their own software, and co-leads the team that created GenderMag (gendermag.org), a software inspection process that uncovers user-facing gender biases in software from smart systems to programming environments.   Together with her collaborators and students, she has contributed some of the seminal work in both of those areas, and also in explaining AI to ordinary end users. Burnett is an ACM Fellow, a member of the ACM CHI Academy, and a member of the Academic Alliance Emeritus Chair Council of the National Center for Women In Technology (NCWIT).
 
How can technology professionals assess whether their technology supports diverse users? And if they find problems, how can they fix them? Although there are empirical processes that can be used to find “inclusivity bugs” piecemeal, what is also needed is a systematic method to assess technology’s support for diverse populations. To fill this gap, we developed GenderMag, a method for finding and fixing “gender inclusivity bugs” — gender biases in technology interfaces and workflows.  We then introduced InclusiveMag, which can be used to generate systematic inclusiveness methods for other dimensions of diversity. In this talk, we explain how GenderMag works, present the latest GenderMag results, and then introduce InclusiveMag and our early experiences with it. We conclude with actionable steps for industry and university professionals.

Ingmar Weber is the Research Director for Social Computing at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI). His interdisciplinary research looks at what online user-generated data can tell us about the offline world and society at large. Working closely with sociologists and demographers he has pioneered the use of online advertising data for complementing official statistics on international migration, digital gender gaps, and poverty. His work is regularly featured in UN reports, and analyses performed by his team have been used to improve operations by UN agencies and NGOs ranging from Colombia to the Philippines. Prior to joining QCRI, Dr Weber was a researcher at Yahoo Research Barcelona. As an undergraduate he studied mathematics at the University of Cambridge before pursuing a PhD at the Max-Planck Institute for Computer Science. He is an ACM, IEEE and AAAI Senior Member and serves as an ACM Distinguished Speaker.

Gender equality in access to the internet and mobile phones is an important development goal. Monitoring progress towards this goal, however, is challenging due to the limited availability of gender-disaggregated data, particularly in low-income countries. In this talk, I’ll give an overview of our work on using non-traditional data sources to study and quantify digital gender gaps.

A key methodological novelty consists of tapping into social media advertising platforms to obtain so-called audience estimates. For example, Facebook provides potential advertisers with information on how many of their users (i) are female, (ii) are aged 21-29, (iii) are living in Surabaya, East Java, and (iv) have access to an iOS device. Answer: 25.6k, compared to 33.4k male users for the same targeting criteria (as of Oct 11, 2021). Similar estimates can be obtained on Twitter, Weibo, Snapchat and other services.

Looking at who is missing on the platforms lets us build models predicting the ratio of female-to-male internet users around the globe. These predictions have been shown to perform better than model predictions based on traditional development indicators. Furthermore, such predictions can be obtained in a near real-time manner, e.g. providing insights into current developments in Afghanistan. Additionally, by comparing the gender distribution of publicly visible content with that of the total user base, we can obtain insights into the gender distribution of silent users. Ongoing work suggests that countries with a higher percentage of silent female Twitter users are also countries with higher levels of online attacks against women.

Our work demonstrates how anonymous and aggregate data that was originally collected from billions of users to serve targeted advertising can be re-purposed to illuminate different aspects of gender inequality. The presentation is based joint work with the University of Oxford and supported by Data2X (https://data2x.org/big-data-for-gender-research-grantees-dig-into-digital-data-insights/).

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