hybrid design practices :: ubicomp 09


Hybrid design practices fuse together methods from different disciplinary traditions. Relating methods in this way provides the opportunity to foreground potential epistemological tensions between different disciplines and research agendas. Those who engage in these processes of hybridization not only explore a variety of methods but also engage with the tensions between different methodologies, i.e., differences in what are accepted as valid methods of knowledge production. Practitioners of these hybrids are not only making new knowledge, they are making new ways of making knowledge.

This fusion of methods and concepts from disparate disciples enables a great degree of flexibility in adapting practices to a specific work context, but it also raises questions of rigor, validity, and what counts as acceptable forms of knowledge production, as well as who is considered legitimate creator and author thereof. We wish to use this moment, when these hybrid design practices are in their infancy, to create an appreciation for such hybrids, not only for the richness they can bring in expanding the fields of Ubicomp and HCI, but also for the opportunities they can provide for both theoretical and practical reflection on the kinds of hybrids our community currently supports or might exclude.

With this workshop we seek to foster a critical dialogue around hybrid design practices focusing - for the scope of this workshop - on four themes:

  • Identifying hybrid practices currently in use in Ubicomp and HCI
  • Exploring particular situations where these practices emerge and are actively being used
  • Brainstorming new opportunities for research that these practices can create
  • Discussing the challenges, both practical and epistemological, that these hybrid practices pose.

    Many of the emerging hybrid design practices draw upon methods of ethnographic fieldwork, design practice, and social and critical theory. This workshop, consequently, seeks to address questions concerning hybrid practices that incorporate these methods, asking:

  • How might ethnographic fieldwork be incorporated into design processes?
  • How might design practice be incorporated into ethnographic fieldwork?
  • What might theory-oriented design or design-oriented theorizing look like?
  • How do existing theories guide fieldwork?
  • How might fieldwork be integrated more closely into the process of theorizing?
  • What role, then, can Ubicomp design practice play for cross-cultural and multi-sited explorations?

    In order to tackle these questions the workshop will entail not only discussion-based reflection, but also the opportunity for participants to approach the topic as they normally do in their day-to-day work, through engaging, hands-on, with these hybrid design practices.

    Plan of Activities
    This workshop will take place over the course of one day and will include introductions via research "speed dating," engagement in hybrid design practices, small group presentations, and discussions.

    After being divided into groups, each group of participants will be given a packet describing an area within the Disney Properties (e.g., the BoardWalk, Fort Wilderness, Downtown Disney, Celebration, the Wide World of Sports Complex, the Yacht and Beach Club Resort area) and a set of hybrid practice tasks which they will employ to explore uses of Ubicomp technology for play and leisure in that space.

    Groups will then present the results to the other participants using creative presentation methods, including but not limited to design sketches, narratives and stories, interactive "audience" performances, visual diagrams, or animations.

    After each group presented their results, we will lead a larger group discussion about issues involved in the use and development of hybrid practices, how they might be legitimized by a broader audience, and the implications and opportunities they present for Ubicomp, HCI, and beyond.

    Through the workshop website, and potentially future publications, we intend to share the experiences of workshop participants as examples of what these hybrids look like in practice, the processes of using them, and how to do so in a critical, reflective manner. Workshop discussions will help inform the proposal of a special journal issue on hybrid design practices.