Workshop at DIS 2012, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

11th June 2012

As part of the ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems we held a one-day workshop on the theme of Perspectives on Participation: Evaluating Cross-Disciplinary Methods, Techniques and Practices. The workshop was organised by John Vines, Rachel Clarke, Tuck Leong, Peter Wright, Ann Light and Ole Iversen.

In the workshop we explored the growing fascination with participation across design, art, social science and the sciences in recent years.

We find ourselves in a situation where the boundaries between participatory tools and methods from specific disciplines are becoming blurred. Researchers and practitioners must now negotiate the appropriateness of methods and tools given the different epistemologies and practices across various disciplines. There comes a temptation to develop or use new methods and processes without necessarily understanding those that have been used before. There is often little reflection on why we might want to involve people in design and artistic practices, nor understand the motivations of those who do participate and what they take from the process. At the same time, project and funding commitments may mean participation becomes an end in itself as opposed to a means for improving research processes and products.

In the workshop we brought together researchers and practitioners from HCI, Participatory Design, the Participatory Arts, and Community Informatics to reflect on a prior participatory projects they have worked on. In bringing this diverse group of individuals together, we unravelled issues to do with the ethics and efficacy of particular approaches to engaging people in design and artistic processes, and unpick some of the epistemological drivers of participation across a broad range of diverse disciplines.

To read the two page archived workshop overview from the proceedings, please click here. To download the original call for participation, click here.

Please see the sections below for more information about how the workshop was organised on the day and the outcomes. If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch with John Vines at


We hoped to organise a workshop that was inclusive of a broad range of ‘perspectives’ and emphasised reflecting on prior experience and posing new questions as a result. Therefore we discarded the traditional ‘position paper’ format associated with HCI workshops, along with the abstract and titles sections of a normal academic paper. Instead we asked potential participants to think about their past projects based upon why they included people in their research, whether they could identity any ‘transformational’ moments, and what they might consider the (successful or unsuccessful) outcomes of their work. From this, we asked submissions to include a set of questions arising from their work that they would like to explore at the workshop. This led to a broad range of submissions. The accepted papers can be found below:

Flavia Amadeu – University of Plymouth [download pdf]

Pollie Barden – Queen Mary University of London [download pdf]

Jo Briggs – Northumbria University [download pdf]

Christian Dindler, Ole Iversen, and Kim Halskov – Aarhus University [download pdf]

Jane Dudman – Newcastle University [download pdf]

Jo Griffin – University of Plymouth [download pdf]

Wyn Griffiths – Middlesex University [download pdf]

Sara Heitlinger – Queen Mary University of London [download pdf]

Toby Lowe – Helix Arts [download pdf]

Dave Meckin – Queen Mary University of London [download pdf]

Joanna Saad-Sulonen – Aalto University [download pdf]

Keir Williams – Queen Mary University of London [download pdf]

We also have two accepted submissions that are no longer able to be presented on the day of the workshops. These are very interesting contributions still however, and we include them here for reference:

Sara Alaoui –  Limsi, Ircam and University Paris-­Sud   [download pdf]

Laura Benton – University of Bath [download pdf]


0830-0900; Arrivals

0900-0915; Introductory remarks (John Vines)

0915-1030; Session 1: Three-minute ‘bring an object’ introductions.

1030-1100; Morning Break

1100-1230; Session 2: Group interviews

1230-1400; Lunch

1400-1430; Session 3: Plenary feedback from interviews and identifying themes for new group discussions

1430-1500; Afternoon Break

1500-1700; Session 4: Group discussions, plenary feedback, and planning next steps

1900; Workshop dinner!


*organisers in italics

Flavia Amadeu, University of Plymouth, UK
Pollie Barden, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Jo Briggs, Northumbria University, UK
Rachel Clarke, Newcastle University, UK
Christian Dindler, Aarhus University, Denmark
Jane Dudman, Newcastle University, UK
Joanna Griffin, University of Plymouth, UK
Wyn Griffiths, Middlesex University, UK
Kim Halskov, Aarhus University, Denmark
Sara Heitlinger, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Ole Iversen, Aarhus University, Denmark
Ann Light, Northumbria University, UK
Tuck Wah Leong, Newcastle University, UK
Toby Lowe, Helix Arts, UK
Kostas Kazakos, The University of Melbourne, Australia
Dave Meckin, Queen Mary University of London
Joanna Saad-Sulonen, Aalto University, Finland
John Vines, Newcastle University, UK
Keir Williams, Queen Mary University of London
Peter Wright, Newcastle University, UK


John Vines is a Research Associate within the Digital Interaction group  at Culture Lab, newcastle University. His work investigates how changes to the mind, body and the experience of technologies in later life impacts upon the design of new digital products and services for older people.

Rachel Clarke is a PhD Candidate at Newcastle University’s Culture Lab. Her PhD research is in developing participatory arts and design methods for interaction design to support the creation and sharing of stories in multicultural communities.

Tuck Wah Leong is a Senior Research Associate with the Social Inclusion in the Digital Economy hub at Newcastle University. His interest in technology is primarily focused upon understanding how people use, interact with, and in turn experience and make sense of their technology use.

Peter Wright is Professor of Social Computing at Newcastle University, and co-leads the Digital Interaction group based within Culture Lab. His current projects focus on health-related services and technologies from an experience-centered perspective on design.

Ann Light is Professor at Northumbria University’s School of Design. Her work focuses on the politics of design, using participatory methods, in part, to inspire consideration of how tools shape our world and what we can do in it.

Ole Sejer Iversen is Associate Professor in Interaction Design in the Centre of Advanced Visualization and Interaction (CAVI) at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. Currently, he is research manager of the Participatory Cultural Heritage projects in Center for Digital Urban Living.

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