Special Session on Digital Lifestyles – The Intersection Of Social And Technological Sciences

Special Session on Digital Lifestyles – The Intersection Of Social And Technological Sciences

Session Chairs:

Anne Holohan, Trinity College, Dublin, aholohan(at)tcd.ie
Victor Callaghan, University of Essex, UK
, callv(at)essex.ac.uk
Michael Gardner, Institute for Social & Technical Research, University of Essex, UK, mgardner(at)essex.ac.uk

In the future, working environments will be heavily dependent on technology. Some environments, such as digital homes, will be physical composed of tens or hundreds of 'networked embedded-computers' offering a range of information & physical services. Other environments may be virtual such as 3D worlds constructed from tools such as Second Life and Wonderland. Other environments may be mixes of real and virtual spaces. Such technology can potentially offer many benefits to people, with more enjoyable, empowering and productive environments that adapt to individual needs. There will also be more opportunities for businesses to create new products, services and markets. However, this raises several challenges in how we can better understand peoples technological needs, behaviours and attitudes, to develop ways people find acceptable for interacting with and controlling their environments. This vision of a pervasive and ambient intelligence home environment involves an extensive integration of computing technologies into our everyday lives to the extent that we could be said to be living a "digital lifestyle" - where devices, services and applications work together seamlessly supporting "even richer, more engaging and deeply connected experiences" (Bill Gates, 2006). The notion of "digital lifestyle" also supports the idea of change - that our "digital lifestyles" change incrementally with technological innovations, and also with the natural changes that occur in everyday life (which can sometime be more subtle). Indeed, the application of the term "lifestyle" is important - as being primarily about the way in which people live, including their views and values, social interactions and their consumption patterns. The term "digital lifestyles" refers to the consumption of digital technologies, and to some extent, lifestyle is about choice - either unconscious or conscious - and to what extent people adopt a "digital lifestyle". Living digitally poses a number of challenges to users on a variety of social and cultural levels, including increasing technological complexity which it is difficult to understand, the potential breaking of work/ home boundaries and health concerns about wireless devices.

Also, with the advent of the internet and the permanent-Beta model for software, the role of the user in product innovation is now of much greater importance. Standard waterfall development models are now being superseded by the need for much more flexibility in the roles and processes used in product development and evaluation. For example, in recent IE conferences there has been an increase in user centric tools, such as Pervasive interactive Programming, that empower users to translate mental concepts directly into bespoke home appliances of their own design. Such issues are increasingly important in pervasive computing for the development of user-sensitive and adaptive services. The user's ability to conceptualise, customise and control these environments in order to meet their needs, is core to their overall success.

The scope for this special session will include an appreciation of the consumption of digital technologies including key user studies, the social and cultural challenges, and the environmental context of consuming digital technologies. This will then extend to considering what is involved in generating, validating, and testing new innovative Digital Lifestyles propositions, based on an understanding of user behaviour in pervasive and ambient computing environments. A key part of this will be the use of new tools and methods within the design process, which can encompass product development, customer segmentation and personas, scenario based analysis, user-led innovation, behavioural methods and probes, and tools/techniques to support the testing of concepts in a pervasive environment.

Contact Person:

Victor Callaghan, callv(at)essex.ac.uk


Important Dates:

Deadline for Manuscript Submission: April 3rd, 2009
Acceptance Decisions: April 24th, 2009
Final Accepted Manuscript: May 10th, 2009

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