Favorite IDC Papers on Family Communication

One of my favorite conferences, Interaction Design and Children (IDC) is going to be in NYC this year! Full papers are called for on January 22nd and I hope to see a lot of great stuff this year (definitely excited about the paper I will be submitting :-)). In the meantime, I wanted to reflect on some of my favorite IDC papers of all time. These are the ones that have directly influenced my own work and I wanted to share them with others who are interested in family communication technologies.

The first paper is about Mediated Intimacy in Families and it is a qualitative investigation of how parents and children build closeness. Dalsgaard et al. emphasize the importance of emotional and physical expressiveness in all relationships. But they also found differences: parents and children build closeness through play together and care provided by the parent for the child, rather than through reciprocal exchanges and setting of public and private boundaries (as in strong-tie relationship). These insights led quite directly to the work that I’ve done with the ShareTable, where my goal was supporting the kinds of care and play activities that might be done remotely.

Freed et al. used a doll house to investigate how children think about remote communication. This image is from their paper and belongs to the authors.

Freed et al. used a doll house to investigate how children think about remote communication. This image is from their paper and belongs to the authors.

The second paper is about children connecting with peers through tangible characters in doll houses. Freed et al. built a pair of doll houses where toys could call each other, mail letters, and videochat with each other. This is a cool idea and an interesting way of investigating how children think about remote communication. The dollhouse approach turned out to be quite compelling to the kids, with most of them engaging in some level of shared play and finding the experience engaging. I had already been engaging with the idea of communicating through play, but seeing this work eventually inspired me to think about physical arrangements for videochat that could support narrative and pretend play.

Raffle et al. investigated asynchronous messaging with toddlers. This image is from their paper and belongs to the authors.

Raffle et al. investigated asynchronous messaging with toddlers. This image is from their paper and belongs to the authors.

The last paper is about asynchronous messaging with preschoolers. If you had asked me before this paper was published whether I thought that asynchronous communication with toddlers would work, I would probably have been very dubious. It’s just not that easy to communicate remotely and it seems much easier to connect with a person than with a message! I have to say that this paper has changed my mind. It presents three prototypes for asynchronous contact that thoughtfully explore what it may look like to engage toddlers with remote relatives asynchronously. This hasn’t led me to do a new paper or a new project (yet), but it reminded me not to underestimate the power of creative ideas and the ability of children to adapt to new ways of connecting.

If you like these papers, you might thing about checking out IDC in NYC this year. I’ll definitely be there, so let me know if you want to meet up.

Top HCI Venues According to Google

I was avoiding real work online and I stumbled across an interesting area of Google Scholar. Turns out they’ve calculated the h5-index of various publication by subfield and HCI is one of the sub-areas featured. It’s obviously not perfect, for example, CHI appears as two different conferences depending on how people cited it, but it’s still fascinating.

First, I’m especially grateful that this list has exposed me to a publication with which I wasn’t familiar but that I find quite relevant and fascinating: the journal of Computers in Human Behavior. Just a quick skim through the top 20 papers suggests that there might be a lot of good stuff that I’ve been overlooking in my searches. I do wonder why a lot of these papers haven’t appeared on my previous related work investigations (of say, video game addiction)? Am I not using the right search terms?

Second, I found it interesting that the results don’t seem to closely match another list gathered of average citations per paper. I tend to trust the Google results more as they have a more nuanced metric and the results seem more believable (at least in terms of CHI being very high on the list and the major conferences being represented). Also, the Google list only includes the last 5 years of publications rather than the whole corpus of each venue, so I think it gives a more accurate idea of the way things currently stand.

Lastly, I wanted to do a quick clustering of the top ten cited papers in CHI, CSCW, and UbiComp over the last 5 years to figure out what we’re citing the most. I picked these 3 conferences because I’ve actually been to these, so I feel a bit more comfortable doing this classification.

  • CHI seems to care the most about social networking sites (3/10 papers). Otherwise, there is a lot of variety in the top cited papers, including: crowdsourcing, activity sensing to support fitness, surface computing, and end-user programming. There were else some reflection and vision papers on this list, which wasn’t the case for the other two conferences. I guess CHI especially likes talking about the big picture.
  • CSCW seems to also mostly care about social networking sites (5/10 papers), especially Twitter (3 out of those 5). Disaster response, social search, crowds and wikipedia, and input devices for collaboration each have some representation on that list too. But, I’m most psyched that family videochat is on that list as well. It’s not my paper, but it’s nice to know that people care about my topic. Though CSCW has been exploring non-work domains, it is still the only conference with any top papers explicitly focusing on work environments (2/10 papers).
  • Ubicomp is obsessed with sensing what people are doing and where they are doing it, with 3 papers on activity recognition, 2 on location sensing, and 1 on sensing events over power lines. But apparently, Ubicomp also cares about useful contexts for sensing with papers about sensing activities or location is order to support family awareness, sustainability, and health. This is confirming my earlier assertion that it should change its name to SensorComp.

I hope you find these lists as interesting as I did. Were you surprised by anything you saw (or didn’t see) there?