I’ve just had two papers published in the Journal of Information Technology & International Development’s special issue on Human Computer Interaction for Development (HCI4D) (Vol 5, Issue 4, Winter 2009).
The first is a lit review and historical overview of the area:
Ho, M., Smyth, T., Kam, M., & Dearden, A. (2009). Human-Computer Interaction for Development: The Past, Present, and Future. Information Technologies & International Development, 5(4). http://itidjournal.org/itid/article/view/420/188
Recent years have seen a burgeoning interest in research into the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the context of developing regions, particularly into how such ICTs might be appropriately designed to meet the unique user and infrastructural requirements that we encounter in these cross-cultural environments. This emerging field, known to some as HCI4D, is the product of a diverse set of origins. As such, it can often be difficult to navigate prior work, and/or to piece together a broad picture of what the field looks like as a whole. In this paper, we aim to contextualize HCI4D—to give it some historical background, to review its existing literature spanning a number of research traditions, to discuss some of its key issues arising from the work done so far, and to suggest some major research objectives for the future.
The second is a paper drawing on the field experiences of all of the authors, a group of (mostly) graduate students:
Anokwa, Y., Smyth, T., Ramachandran, D., Sherwani, J., Schwartzman, Y., Luk, R., Ho, M., Moraveji, N., & DeRenzi, B. (2009). Stories from the Field: Reflections on HCI4D Experiences. Information Technologies & International Development, 5(4). http://itidjournal.org/itid/article/view/427/195
Human-computer interaction for development (HCI4D) requires considerable time in the field interacting with users. While this is true for most HCI work, fieldwork in developing regions presents unique challenges due to differences in culture, language, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. As a group of nine HCI4D researchers, we have adopted a systematic approach to reflect on the challenges we have encountered in the field. Arising from this exercise are three contributions: The first is our research method itself, which uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative instruments to elicit and synthesize individual experiences. The second, intended for beginning researchers, is a set of lessons learned and suggested strategies for navigating the unique challenges of HCI4D research. The third, intended for the HCI4D community at large, is a critical reflection on the field itself, inspired by our findings. Topics covered include the incentives and agendas of the research world, the importance of managing expectations, the nature of “participation” in HCI4D, and the conflict between research and development more generally.
I really like researchers and the projects written about in the articles, so I encourage you to peruse the entire issue.