torsdag, oktober 26, 2006

CfP: The Good, the Bad and the Unexpected


The user and the future of information and communication technologies
A transdisciplinary conference organised by COST Action 298
Moscow, Russian Federation

23rd-25th May 2007


The main objective of the conference is to create new knowledge about users’ creativity and facilitate their empowerment in a broadband information society. This knowledge is crucial in order to strengthen the European Research Area. Moreover, this requires an examination of the factors that can both constrain and enhance users’ abilities to shape and use ICTs.

From our perspective, the ‘broadband society’ refers to a possible, but not inevitable, substantial transformation of our experience of telecommunications based on these technologies allowing information and communication technologies to be used everywhere, all the time and by everybody. Given the widespread aspirations of Governments and companies to achieve this goal, the extent to which any such transformation has occurred needs, of course, to be evaluated in a balanced manner.

Broadband technologies have resulted mainly from technological and institutional imperatives. To what extent have potential users managed to find ways in which such technologies can be useful, worthwhile and attractive? We certainly know from previous research this can require those users to be creative in terms of fitting ICTs into their activities or using them to find solutions to the everyday problems that they already encounter. But how much is being demanded of those users, what considerations have a bearing upon whether these technologies actually find a place in their lives and what new issues, of indeed problems, can these ICTs themselves create, especially if they really are ‘disruptive technologies’? Ultimately, we also need to acknowledge that users may well decide that their existing solutions suffice, in which case these new technological options may find only a modest place in their lives. Indeed, they may even be resisted or ignored.  Whatever strategies users employ for assessing and dealing with such innovations, we need to learn more about these social processes, including strategies for dealing with the up and coming generation of new information and communication products and services. Only by so doing can we hope to empower them further in their relationships to technology and through this hope to increase the quality of their lives.

In this conference, the organisers - COST Action 298 - invite technology and product developers, designers, social scientists, policy makers, community representatives and others who are interested in the conference topics, to join our attempt to develop this discussion on a common, shared and transdisciplinary ground. We ask participants to

1) strive to present their topic from a human-centric point of view as opposed to a technology-, product- or business-centric one, and to

2) present their topic in a language that attempts to transcend disciplinary boundaries, a language that non-experts can also understand, and to

3) not only report on their work, but also to engage in the conference debate which aims to develop ways to understand the interests of people and society, to evaluate developments against such an evolving understanding, and to chart interesting and desirable future directions.

The emphasis of this event will be on networking and promoting a dialogue with colleagues from around Europe and the rest of the world.

We look forward to seeing you in Moscow for a conference designed to be exciting, thought-provoking and challenging.


This conference is organised by the COST 298 network ‘Participation in the Broadband Society’, the successor to COST actions 269 and 248.  The conference is a follow up to the conference The Good, the Bad and the Irrelevant held in Helsinki in September 2003. COST 298 is an action in the domain ‘Information and Communication Technologies’ of COST, an intergovernmental framework for European Co-operation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research. In COST 298 European scientists from telecommunication research departments, universities and operators together with independent consultants collaborate in cross-disciplinary groups to analyse the social dimensions of people’s relationships to information and communication technologies.  More information is available on our website at


A number of communities have an interest in and perspectives on the relationship between people and ICTs. These include industry, academia, designers, policy makers and other institutions. The goal of this conference is to encourage and facilitate a dialogue between these communities in order to promote transdisciplinary insights that can enhance the process by which these technologies are shaped.

The conference aims:

1.     To instigate and support dialogues:

·      Between social scientists, designers, engineers, policy-makers and technology and service providers.

·      Between the different disciplinary approaches analysing the social and cultural dimensions of ICTs (covering telecommunications, computing and mass media).

  1. To explore the state of the art of our knowledge and the results of current research, at the same time indicating the implications of this for those who are planning and shaping technologies and services.
  2. To confront the reality of today with the possibilities of the future, and to debate the meaning of reported and anticipated developments for the everyday life in an increasingly globalised society.

The conference will be organised around the following four themes or strands:

1. Users as innovators

Within the changing techno-economic paradigm, the user is increasingly seen as the origin of innovation. This refers to strategic roles like ‘lead users’ or ‘pro-am’ in technology design. At the same time powerful Web 2.0 tools (vlogging, social software, folksonomies, etc) enable an affluence of ‘user generated content’ (UGC) based on the ‘networked individualism’ of people. However the user as innovator also refers to more tactical roles. Users of ICTs have often used technologies in very creative, sometimes unanticipated, ways. This refers to ways in which ICTs either enable or constrain users’ ability to develop innovatory social practices, linked to technology design and content creation. What factors lead to creativity in the use of ICTs? In addition, how people make choices is a key issue. While choice behaviour asks for active informed decision-making, people in practice are often not interested in making such active choices. Therefore, what enablers and constraints play a role in this process? How useful are theoretical frameworks in explaining such choices?

This strand will look at patterns of behaviour during diffusion, users’ innovation, technology design, the ways users make choices to use or not use broadband technology, taking note of the fact that at a certain moment in time any innovation is simply less ‘innovative’. When, if ever, will broadband become the ‘norm’ and does it really matter for users? How long does it take before an innovation is regarded as being domesticated and what does this mean in practice? Finally we also welcome contributions on methodological innovation for investigating users as strategic and tactical innovators. This includes methods that enable understanding and interpretation of users’ creativity in everyday life, like ethnography, persona development or research in living lab settings.

2. Humans as eActor

This strand welcomes theoretical, methodological and empirical contributions to the following areas:

The electronic portrait of individuals as human actors

What type of electronic information do people deal with and how? Given that humans use, produce, store, disseminate and retrieve information, these particular processes have to be studied in order to understand the production of the electronic self and its social consequences. This portrait should also address the evolution of human self-determination, autonomy and reflexivity regarding more pervasive (or invasive) information and communication systems.

The convergence of social and technological processes around the human body

This area involves analysis and studies of the convergence of several social and technological processes around the human body. What are the relevant debates about this development and what are the social representations of the human body in a broadband society?

An anthropocentric perspective in developing interfaces that are user pulled rather than technology pushed

Any anthropocentric perspective requires us to reflect upon the end user as being main target, beneficiary and ‘raison d’être’ of ICTs, including the ones mentioned in visions of the broadband society.

Migrants and their social integration and cohesion in the European broadband space.

During the last few years there has been a lot of turbulance in the European scene. The European union was confronted with a great number of new members, discussions take place of how large the EU may or cannot be, what does 'European' mean when thinking about spacial and cultural boundaries. The French and Dutch 'no' to the European constitution were  for a large part the result of this discussion.  In the public opinion migrants are often looked upon as at least 'problematic'.  ICT's could play an important role in the integration both politically and socially of migrants in their new surroundings. On the other hand ICTs are means to keep in touch with the native country or region from which they emigrated. 

This area involves any theoretical and empirical discourses on the social and political integration of diasporas in their new country involving the use of ICTs. It also addresses the question of the ways in which the use of ICTs supports  cultural and social relations within diaspora communities.

3. The multiple cultures of the Information Society

Although there are now a limited number of cross-cultural comparisons of the experiences of ICT use, it is quite clear that there are complex issues involved in making sense of international differences, as well as differences within national cultures.  While we welcome papers at the conference that focus specifically on cross-cultural issues we want to encourage a wider engagement in this issue.  This strand invites people conducting national research on ICT adoption and use to report on that work. But we would like them to add what they think might be cultural or national influences shaping these developments in their country. For example, if studies focus on gender or age groups (such as youth, the elderly) we would ask researchers to consider how people’s experiences are influenced by national or regional circumstances (educational, legal, employment, financial, time structures, domestic division of labour etc.) or particular meanings and values in that culture. There is a workgroup within COST 298 that is looking at this whole area of cross-cultural comparisons. We hope to build on the reflections from the papers in this strand and develop our thinking with a view to producing a coherent publication based on these contributions.

4. Future directions

Both the technological environment and wider society are evolving through a process of mutual interaction. Even if we accept that the results and acceptance of technological developments in society cannot be reliably predicted, it is also clear that vast investments are being made in the intentional development of technologies, including broadband technologies, with certain aims and strategies. These are inevitably based on certain sets of assumptions about the future. In fact, all such future-oriented action is based on some kind of a vision about the future, whether it is explicitly articulated or not. These intentions and assumptions have a great influence upon the whole development agenda, the specific development processes, and the results of these endeavours.

This strand will explore the process of this kind of vision-creation and aims to intentionally, and indeed proactively, contribute to this envisioning process in society. This is important for the way in which any information society develops, as well as for achieving better efficiency in technology investment


In the spirit of the conference we would encourage those considering submitting papers to reflect on three aspects. These are

(a) the basis for making evaluations of ICTs,
(b) the implications for the future design of ICTs and
(c) directions for future research.

At the stage of reviewing abstracts, reviewers will make suggestions towards this end. More information will be available later on the conference website at


Deadline for submission: 10th January 2007. All abstracts should be prepared in electronic form. Detailed submission directions will be available at Abstracts must be written in English and typed with single line spacing. No formulas, symbols, mathematical notation or sub/superscripts are allowed. Abstracts should be 300-600 words. No abstract fee is required. Both academics and practitioners are invited to submit presentations. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the conference, abstracts will be reviewed by a combination of members of the Steering Committee, the International Programme Committee and others with relevant expertise.  Notification of acceptance will be given by 28th February 2007. All withdrawals should be sent to the Conference Chair.


The registration fee of 250 Euro will cover lunches, coffee and the proceedings.

There will be a reduced fee for students coming from the following countries: Russian Federation, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan. Student fee is applicable only if the student presents the paper herself /himself and will be 25 Euros for students as first authors and 50 Euros for students as co-authors. A prize for the best young researcher (under 35) will be set up. For faculty members or researchers from the countries listed above the fee will be 150 Euros.

All attendees, including speakers and session chairs, must register and pay the registration fee.


Visas are required to enter the Russian Federation for people who are not Russian citizens. Support to obtain these will be provided by the local organisers.


Deadline for abstract submission: 10th January 2007

Notification of the acceptance of abstracts: 28th February 2007

After this we will start the process of sending out official letters of invitation in order for participants to get visas to go to the Russian Federation

Authors’ delivery of paper deadline in order to be included in the printed programme and the proceedings: 15th April 2007

Conference: 23rd-25th May 2007


The official language of the conference will be English.


Papers presented at the conference will be made available as a book of proceedings and will be posted to the COST 298 website.


The conference will be hosted by the Institute of the Information Society, Moscow, Russian Federation.


A comprehensive social programme is being planned.


Information about hotels and prices will be available soon at



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