NordiCHI 2010 in Reykjavik Iceland was my first real academic conference and what a conference it was. 3 days of cool research projects that demonstrated that research can be (and should) be fun. In so many ways, NordiCHI changed my perspective on things and I came home full of ideas and intended to engage my colleagues into some weird and out of space projects.
So, came 2012 it was only natural I attended the 2012 edition of NordiCHI hosted by the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. This year's theme was "Making sense through design" which again reflects what I'm trying to communicate with both my teaching at the University and through our work at blok_blok. Day before the conference was as usual the Workshop day, though this year there was almost to much on offer. At the end, I chose to apply to participate in the "Designing Seams for Transmedia Experiences" workshop organised by Sabiha Ghellal and Annika Wiklund-Engblom. The reason was mainly my obsession with experiences spreading across channels, touchpoints and various media types. I was still under influence of some really fruitful discussions at the Pervasive 2012 Architectures of Meaning workshop with Andrea Resmini & co (especially the uber active Jon Fisher who started and is keeping the multi channel discussion alive). In Copenhagen we tried to define what actually is Transmedia, how it should not be Intermedia and how we are all on the same boat towards a more holistic UX. It was great that there were not to many of us so the debates were flowing like crazy, especially because of the diverse audience. From theatre, games, internet fiction to e-learning. We were even encouraged to join the Fools Revolution by Jesper. Really was one of those workshops to remember. And definitely one that calls for further elaboration! One try was the sushi dinner after the workshop :) (thanks again for the treat Sabiha!).
And than there was the conference. Opening with Paul Dourish. A fun and interesting dude, but sadly the topic (Materialities of Information) was a bit HC to stay focused for an hour. But hey, Paul based his talk on the dude extraordinaire, Lev Manovich. The "Design Practice" session was contrary to the keynote very vivid with critical design and guys from Goldsmiths (University of London) even proposing a new way of presenting academic papers - with a photo essay. The next session was even more tangible beginning with Jo and Harald from Oslo who presented their very tangible (read: cushions and carpets, check Rhyme) tangibles based on the concept of familiarity. The last session I attended on the first day was "Creating and Engaging" that was also one of my favourite. Dries de Roeck opened it with a Manifesto for DIY Internet of Things. How cool is that, right? Oscar Tomico and Marcel ven Heist in their "Designing for, with or within" talk only continued to entertain. Their case was actually developed in rural India where Marcel was designing from within the community. Jon Back concluded the session with an interesting take on spontaneous Civic Discussion - a paper he wrote with Matthias Korn.
Second day started with an engaging, fast-paced and inspiring keynote by Rosan Bosch who showed some examples of her work in changing the working/learning spaces. Also, her fun and engaging take on art, the project Free Zone was presented. My next session was the "Public and Urban Spaces" and the first presentation was a fun IxD experiment guys from Aarhus, Denmark did with their BannerBattle - visualising the crowd experience during a football match. The next paper was from our Austrian neighbours in Graz University of Technology. Jens Grubert presented how we should better use augmented reality, QR codes and similar. Instead of simply adding AR and VR to everything just for the sake we are able to. Topic which has been frustrating me lately, hence I was happy someone else is working on that. After lunch I joined the "Design and Collaboration" session that started with one of the stars of this year's NordiCHI, Florian Geyer from german University of Konstanz. He presented the IdeVis prototype for interactive collaboration that empoweres mainly the design facilitator. Because this session was missing one paper, I used that time to take a deeper look at the demos on show. Especially the idAnimate (system for sketching & modifying animations on the fly), Beat Haiku (a cool interactive poetry application), UCDtoolbox (find, learn and improve methods for UCD) and DrawUX (web tool for long-term UX evaluation) caught my attention. The day continued with the "Dolls, Dance and Fire" session starting with "Doll based design" presented by Betina Jakobsen who uses dolls in participatory design sessions. Berto Gonzales presented really inspiring work where design and IT mixes with dance on the stage. Guys from Portugal showed another more art-oriented exploration of HCI. Their art installations provoked people to light the forest with fire and than told them to take care of the forest until it gets better. The second day ended with the gala dinner where stars of the evening were definitely the singing Fins :) I was so proud to sit next to them during dinner.
The third day should start a bit later, though my promise to Petri (Saarinen) the evening before kind of kicked me out of bed. Petri had to present in the morning session "Spatial and search." And it really was a great first "big" presentation Petri, congratz once again! Petri talked about an interesting methodology for exploring Spatial Experience he developed with his colleagues in Tampere, Finland.
In this session there was also another presentation from Florian Geyer, this time on grouping and clustering in interactive tabletops. The next session was my favourite, the "Rural and Global Communication." Started by Sarita from Samsung India who presented interesting work on how to understand group communication in rural India. It was really great to hear their insight, especially from their experiment of miming a teleconference in one room (and seating 4 people each in his own corner). He was followed by Kasper Rodil who presented another inspirational research conducted in Namibia with the Herero tribe. Kasper talked about metaphors and perception of live, and how we should encourage local people to find their own use of technology. Really inspirational talk. He also urged everyone in the room to join their project . The session ended with another take on rural communication in India. My final session of the day was "Design Materials (and Some Sex)" which was well attended, probably because the Sex thing in the title :) It was a very interesting session indeed. The star was of course Gopinaath Kannabiran presenting his study on technosexuality in HCI and how it should be researched further on. He's done the study on the case of I Just Made Love web site. The session ended with Nicolai Brodersen Hansen from Aarhus who touched another hot topic: the productive role of material design in participatory design events. Cardboard for the win, right? Daniel Fallman from Interactive Institute at Umea University delivered the final keynote and wrapped the whole conference beautifully talking about the third wave of HCI and ending with his triangular model consisting of Design Practice, Design Studies and what he calls Explorative Design.
This year's NordiCHI was again a real inspiration and a perfect example of why Scandinavians are still "top shit" in HCI and especially human-centered design and of course the participatory design practice. It all just emphasised my admiration of their research/business approach. There, I said it :) And because I really do love these cold and windy places, I prolonged my stay for 2 days and used the time to visit some of those damn cool Scandinavians, like Fredrik in Malmo (thanks for the local beer tour again). Oh, and yes, I did visit probably the most beautiful (yes, not only cool but beautiful) museum in the world, the Louisiana.