Social aspects of communication technologies

Sharon Porterfield sent along this call for participation in a workshop on the social aspects of communication technologies that appeared in Cybresociology, an interesting listserv on Yahoo.

Workshop on the Social Aspects of Communication Technologies – Northumbria University, 8th November 2004

Contributions in the form of 4 page position papers are invited for a one-day workshop at Northumbria University

See for more information

Access to communication technologies is increasing at a tremendous rate as
devices become both affordable and more diverse. In recent years designers
have paid attention to enhanced functionality and the way in which we
interact with communication technologies for task-based purposes. Much
progress has been made in area of the user interface and implications for
usability measures such as learning and satisfaction are now better
understood. However, these communication technologies are increasingly being
used in a social context to support and extend relationships between
individuals and between groups of people and organisations. Yet the social
aspects of these communication technologies have often been overlooked by
researchers and designers keen to create task based products. Many current
communication technologies have been noted for their social properties and
we now recognise that devices designed for task-based interactions are soon
given a more social purpose by their users. With this in mind we feel that
attention should now focus on the social aspects of communication
technologies if we are to better understand how and why people are using and
adapting communication technologies to suit their social lives. Issues of
interest include but are not limited to trust, privacy and community. We
want to focus on issues of context, purpose and benefit to see if we can
build up a richer, more detailed account of real technology usage across a
variety of settings and technologies.


1) The need to understand how current communication
technologies shape the social lives of their users
2) An examination of current technology use; what kinds of
communication technologies are people using and why?
3) What factors influence take-up and continued use of
communication technologies?
4) Environmental factors; are people using different
communication technologies in the home and in the workplace? What is the
interplay between environment and context and the device itself?
5) Evidence and examples of the benefits of communication
technologies in supporting social interactions

The following are the goals of the workshop:
1) to explore in more depth the social aspects of communication
2) to bring together people with different disciplinary
backgrounds to discuss and address the social aspects of communication
3) to generate ideas with a view to informing research and
practice into the social aspects of communication technologies

The workshop will provide a forum for those interested in the social aspects
of communication technologies to interact and discuss relevant issues and
will be undertaken through the following structure. The day will be divided
into a morning and an afternoon session. Each session will open with a
keynote speaker. This will be followed by a series of short presentations.
The rest of each session will be given over to group discussion.

The workshop will provide a forum for researchers and practitioners
interested in the social aspects of communication technologies to present
their work and ideas. Participants will be selected on the basis of their
interest and familiarity with the topic. Contributions will be circulated
beforehand and posted on the workshop website.

The workshop is designed as a one-day mix of presentations and group
discussions. Please send your contributions by 24th September 2004 to

Acceptance notifications will be sent on or before 4th October 2004. Linda
Little is also the point of contact for further information and informal
expressions of interest.

24th September 2004 Position paper submission
4th October 2004 Paper acceptance notification
8th October 2004 Accepted paper distribution
8th November 2004 Date of workshop

Linda Little, Northumbria University
Liz Sillence, Northumbria University
Pam Briggs, Northumbria University
Cath Kenny, Northumbria University

The cost of the one day workshop is #50 this includes attendance at the
workshop sessions, buffet lunch and tea and coffee breaks.

A publisher has already been approached with a view to having the workshop
proceedings published as either a special issue journal or as a book.
Publication issues will also be discussed by the workshop group at the end
of the final session.

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