Critical Computing Research Group (CRITIC)
The CRITIC group Is one of the 5 thematic research groups at IDEAL. This group is interested in issues of civic participation, sustainability and education. Our work draws on sociocultural theory and critical approaches in computing as they have been introduced and elaborated into the fields of Human-Computer Interaction and Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. Our goal is to contribute a critical perspective to the field of HCI.
Current research projects
Ground Truth – Sustainable citizen observatories for smart resources management funded by Horizon 2020 -EU. 2016-2018.
The main coordinator is professor Uta Wehn at UNESCO-IHE Delft- The Netherlands- Prof. Uta Wehn. From Stockholm University the researchers are: Somya Joshi (main), Tessy Cerratto Pargman and Love Ekenberg.
Citizen observatories enable citizens (and not just scientists and professionals) to collect and share data about the environment. Ground Truth 2.0 will strengthen the feedback-loop in the information chain: from citizen-based data collection to knowledge sharing for joint decision-making and cooperative planning. The overall objectives of Ground Truth 2.0 are to implement sustainable citizen observatories for the demonstration of their societal and economic benefits, and the global market uptake of the Ground Truth 2.0 concept and enabling technologies. The project uses a trans-disciplinary approach which consists of a multi-actor innovation process to combine the social dimensions of citizen observatories with enabling technologies so that their customisation and deployment is tailored to the envisaged societal and economic impacts of the respective observatories.
It focuses on environmental indicators in urban and rural areas related to spatial planning issues, with a specific focus on flora and fauna as well as water availability and water quality for land and natural resources management. This is supported by an innovative web-based service for worldwide mapping and updating of land use.
Here a presentation of the Swedish case
Participatory Design: crossing PD methods and practices in academia and industry
This project is about bringing together researchers and practitioners from academia and the industry sector to exchange about their current PD practices. The goal is to produce a repertoire of practices and methods that can serve, on the one hand to update courses’ curricula in relation to the realities of PD as applied in industry and, on the other hand, to provide companies and organisations with a set of conceptual tools that facilitate them to identify and analyse critical aspects of PD as unfold in different contexts.
Digital Civic Participation – 2015-2018
This project is about discourses on participation, democracy and politics that are nowadays profoundly questioned and challenged. Internet and the entrance of open source software into the governmental sphere have much contributed toward the shift in understandings of citizen participation, their rights and representation. In the field of participatory design such an inquiry is reflected in a shift of focus regarding the study of the use of technologies within government. From being concerned by issues on transparency and equity researchers are nowadays more prone to explore issues regarding the transformative power or/and performativity of open source software in contexts such as government. This paper project scrutinises two cases, the case of the political “Net Party” which in 2013 introduced the platform “Democracy OS” into the legislature of the Ciudad de Buenos Aires in Argentina, and the case of Democracy Earth Foundation. The question at the core of the project is: Do open source tools redefine the political space and reconfigure citizen civic participation? And if so, how?
Past research projects
Critical Alternatives to the development of sustainable and fair high-tech. 2015-2017
This is a project that deals with issues in the field of sustainable HCI. Specifically, the project is interesting in contributing to analyse alternative ways to develop, design and use mobile communication technology. We look at a particular case that is both a high-tech company in the area of telecommunication and a social movement toward the development of sustainable and fair technology. We are committed to the study of alternative ways to consume and develop digital technology for the following reasons: As we move towards exhausting our finite natural resources, generating more waste than we can absorb, and as we stare at a future with knock-on climate change within a precariously interconnected ecosystem, the question that guides our work is “what role can technology design play in sustaining meaningful change?” The argument we advance in this investigation is twofold. The first relates to the temporality of sustainability, as seen a process. The second relates to the interconnectedness of the endeavour, where we, who are seeking change are part and parcel of the problem.
Funded by The Swedish Research Council. The project collaborates with 4 Swedish elementary schools, Kista grundskolan and Husby skolan in Stockholm and 2 schools in Växjö, Sweden. 2013-2016
The project aims at understanding the intricacies and complexities of introducing mobile technologies into schools’ curriculum and established teaching practices; and analysing actual transformations that the use of mobile technologies in schools brings to contemporary forms of learning in the 21st century. The purpose is to develop a solid body of research on collaborative learning across formal and informal contexts, a better theoretical understanding of aspects related to new media literacies and their implications for curriculum design and everyday educational practice.
SOLA deals with the challenge of introducing social tools into university students’ everyday peer-review practices. The purpose is thus to devise whether a social approach to peer-review would be beneficial -or not- for students’ development of critical thinking. This project is also interested in identifying epistemic implications of introducing social tools into the students’ co-construction of knowledge in specific domains as well as providing educational institutions with tools designed for the promotion of participatory and reflective literacy practices among young people.
Project: Digital Cultural Consumption and Education
Principal researchers: Mónica Pini (UNSAM) and Tessy Cerratto Pargman (SU). Funded by Linnaeus-Palme international programme. The project collaborates with UNSAM, University of San Martin, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 2013-2015
The project aims to construct and describe students’ cultural consumption profile upon the assumption that media and technological devices function as socializing agents during children’s leisure and entertainment time. Through a qualitative study, we explore the representations and socio-technical practices of public school students of a predominately working-class neighbourhood situated in the periphery of Buenos Aires city. The outcomes allow us to portray children´s and teenagers’ interests and what they value outside the school with the ultimate purpose of making those characteristics visible for teachers. The research is conducted from a critical perspective drawing from a socio-educational approach grounded in the theory of cultural consumption.
Project: Sociotechnical practices in ecological communities
Tessy Cerratto Pargman (main), Daniel Pargman (KTH) and Bonnie Nardi (UCI). Funded by Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences. The project collaborates with the University of California Irvine in USA and KTH, The Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. 2014-2015.
This project looks at ecological communities, that as part of social innovative initiatives, have voluntarily opted for alternative ways of living (e.g. ”simply living”). The goal of the project is to understand the sociocultural context, everyday practices and values embedded in such communities with the purpose to gain knowledge about how people enact sustainable behaviours and change on a daily basis. A design-oriented goal with the project is to contribute to the design of technologies that are less inclined toward instrumental purposes of efficiency and corporate profit and more prone to design for political mobilization (cf. Dourish, 2010). The project is inspired by Nardi’s ideas about the future role of human computation “Human computation should include using human cognitive capacity to understand how to deploy technical resources wisely with compassion and foresight” [Nardi, 2013, page 2,]