social interaction and mundane technologies IN-PRESS

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Future publications

Updated 23-Nov-2009

Special Issue of Visual Studies: New Visual Technologies – Shifting Boundaries, Shared Moments

Connor Graham, Mark Rouncefield, Vincent O'Brien and Eric Laurier

Key dates
15th February '10 Submissions due
31st March '10 Notification
31st May '10 Revisions due
31st July '10 Final notification
15th September '10 Final papers due
late '10/early '11 Planned publication

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Call for Papers

This special issue of Visual Studies explores the implications of the wide range of contemporary and emerging visual technologies for social groups, professions and institutions. Visual technology has been and is being transformed in a number of areas: carriers (e.g. cellular networks, the Internet), production technologies (e.g. digital camcorders and cameras, mobile phones), display technologies (e.g. public displays, mobile phone projectors) and services (e.g. Flickr, MMS, blogs), Of particular interest for this special issue is the dissolving boundaries of exchange and media mobilities (Urry, 2000) that these transformations entail. New visual technologies (e.g. the Internet) now support sharing of visual media across geographical regions, temporal zones and cultural conventions. This not only has implications for how boundaries between individual (e.g. friends) and groups (e.g. different households) are defined but also for how these boundaries are managed through the use of different forms of media. Some examples of this are the visual narratives portrayed in digital photographs on Flickr and snippets of video on YouTube. Such visual technologies can be used to maintain family through the remote, asynchronous sharing of digital photos or to bring home the experience and impact of a particular event.

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The ongoing transformation and exchange of visual media is our concern: for example video taken opportunistically when on holiday, taken up by an organization in a different time zone for later examination, that then is acquired for posterity or is taken up by the a family for remembering an event. This issue also targets how ordinary personal visual media play a role in people’s lives and the many forms of looking they afford, one being the well known "gaze" (Urry, 2002; Foucault, 1976). Our concern is not only with the journalistic process of how these media capturing moments are compiled and placed on display (e.g. via digital sharing) but also with the role of particular visual media in and through time in particular settings and how they participate in and construct people’s personal and collective material lives. The global reach of new distributive technologies also raises questions about cross and intercultural interpretations of visual materials and how visual materials are used to construct, reconstruct and deconstruct cultural identities. Thus our concern is both individual and intimate, regarding these media in the trajectory of people’s biographies (Strauss, 1993) and social and community-driven, regarding these media as part of the fabric of particular "social worlds" (Becker, 1982; Strauss, 1978) and (virtual) communities (Mynatt et al., 1998; Rheingold, 2000). We are also concerned with the “reciprocal impact” (Strauss, 1993) of capturing and working with these media, the role they perform in constructing the ways of seeing (Berger, 1982) and for whom. In this focus we are interested in how new visual media are woven together with more traditional written forms i.e. how people use different media, the emotions involved with their use and their temporal qualities. Thus we are not concerned with (new) visual media alone but how these media can interlock and interface with text for example. Our concerns also include the transformations which these media support and undergo as time passes – e.g. through the explicit use of digital media as visual activism (e.g. and, – the importance of these media’s different levels of materiality as well as their content (Shove et al., 2007) and the practical ethics inherent in sharing, exchanging and viewing photographs, video and other images.

This special issue represents an exploration of both new visual technologies material form and their content-carrying capabilities across different settings as well as how these technologies interlock and interweave with more traditional visual (e.g. pawritten technologies (e.g. text on paper) to achieve particular purposes.

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We wish to gather articles on new visual technologies which represent forays into visual research, explorations of the visual aspects of culture, as well as new or adaptations to existing methods and methodologies for investigating particular social worlds. Submissions can include uses of digital photography and video and other new visual media in domestic, community and leisure settings.

Appropriate longer submissions include:

  • Extended reports from the field studies using visual and other technologies;
  • Critical literature reviews of uses of visual technologies in other studies;
  • Discursive pieces exploring themes in visual technology use and/or their potential in particular settings;
  • Developments of existing/proposal of new methods/methodologies.

Shorter submissions can include:

  • Reflections on approaches and methods;
  • Opinion pieces;
  • Early reports on studies of technologies in situ;
  • Design proposals addressing particular themes.

Given the topic of the special issue and the nature of the journal, visual materials (e.g photographs, screen shots, figures) are encouraged as an integral part of submissions.

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Submitting authors should conform with the journal’s guidelines including copyright guidelines available from: Papers can either be long submissions of between 7,000 and 8,000 words or shorter papers of between to 2,000 and 3,000 words. Papers should be submitted via email to Connor Graham at

Information on the Visual Studies journal is available from: Please contact Connor Graham ( if you have any questions.

Call for Papers (PDF)

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EXTENDED CALL: Theme Issue of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing - Social Interaction and Mundane Technologies in Everyday Life

Paul Dourish, Connor Graham, Dave Randall, Mark Rouncefield

Key dates
22nd August '08 Submissions due
24th October '08 First notification
15th December '08 Revisions due
15th February '09 Final notification
30th March '09 Final revisions
late '09/early '10 Planned publication

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Extended Call for Papers

This theme issue is responding to the proliferation and developing constellations of 'social' and 'mundane' technologies in people's everyday lives. We define 'mundane technologies' (Graham and Rouncefield, 2007) as those quite unremarkable technologies that, given the context in which they operate, have been 'made at home', have become 'ordinary' and, indeed, part of the organisation already in place (Sacks, 1992). These technologies are often simple, minimalist and 'loose' and yet support richly layered social interactions which are sustained and develop across time, place, and culture in particular 'social worlds' (Strauss, 1978). Our assumption is that these 'mundane technologies' are at a mature level of adoption, with seemingly well worked-out affordances so that their use has become so tightly entwined with activity and social interaction as to be almost invisible (Weiser, 1991) and thus, difficult to study and to be surprised by.

In this theme issue we are interested in three main classes of 'mundane technologies' and the social interaction surrounding them – mobile technologies, domestic technologies and office technologies. We do not regard these as mutually exclusive categories and, indeed, an additional interest for us is how particular technologies can blur category boundaries and, indeed, operate across different situations as people experience increased mobility (Larsen et al., 2006). Our particular interest is around the use of digital media (e.g. mobile phone cameras, home videos) at play and in the home and the use of 'office' technologies (e.g. wordprocessors, email, calendar applications) by leaders and managers and, more generally, in everyday life. For instance, a spreadsheet application can both be used to 'put a brave face on' a balance sheet in a conversation between an employee and a manager and equally to support the discussion of household spending in the home. Put simply, we are interested in exploring 'real' studies of quite ordinary technologies that have already been appropriated, domesticated (Silverstone et al., 1997) and subsumed into the fabric of family, social and organisational life and do particular work: maintaining a sense of community; assisting with everyday decision-making; maintaining "social translucence" (Erikson and Kellogg, 2000); providing channels for emotional labour (Hoschchild, 1983); and so on.

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Primary interests

Our primary interests concern:

  • how technology both provides an account and makes us account for our actions to ourselves as well as to others;
  • the transformation of (constellations of) mundane technologies that occurs in people's lives to support particular routines;
  • the kinds of social action and interaction mundane technologies facilitate such as emotion work, keeping in touch and awareness work;
  • the visibility that technology enforces despite its 'embeddedness' and 'invisibility';
  • the importance of the relationship between ordinary technologies and notions of space and place.

We are interested in understanding how these interests really play out in different people's lives, if at all. Given our interest in 'the ordinary' we prefer submissions that report of actual studies (field or ethnographic) of technology use and/or methodological concerns.

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Secondary interests

One of our secondary interests, which is often inseparable from the above concerns, is how mundane technologies can be useful methodological instruments in the ethnographic enterprise and how they can be fused with other, more 'traditional' approaches in social science research, to inform how technology is used and how practices, rhythms and routines are structured around technology to get work done. We are also convinced that individuals leave digital (audit) trails as they traverse their everyday lived and what people slough and shed via mundane technologies can provide real insights for the ethnographic enterprise: browser histories, mobile phone logs, temporary files generated on-the-fly etc. can all be leveraged in this regard. We are interested in how these 'digital footprints' can be provide insights into people's use of technology, possible design considerations and the ethical issues with the use of such material in examining people's lives.

Types and topics

Types of submissions can include (but are not restricted to):

  • extended reports from the field describing and analysing mundane technologies for 'social' uses in particular contexts (e.g. the home, an organization);
  • studies of newly introduced, 'simple' technologies and how they are transformed and become mundane;
  • methodological accounts across different studies describing how mundane technologies provided insights into a setting.

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Possible topics include:

  • How people maintain a sense of community in particular social networks through mundane technologies (e.g. blogging);
  • The role of mundane technology (e.g. digital media, spreadsheets) use in family life, if any;
  • How managers operate across mundane technologies (e.g. email, mobile phone, Word, Excel) to lead in their organisations and the work that each technology does for them
  • How simple technologies reconfigure space and what the implications of them becoming mundane are.
Submission Details

Submissions should be no more than 6000 words in length. Publications should be emailed to c.graham [at] and/or m.rouncefield [at] In preparing manuscripts, authors should adhere to the instructions for authors for Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. Reviewing will involve at least two reviews and two cycles of reviewing.

Short Call for Papers (PDF)

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Conference calls

Updated: 09-Jan-2008

Papers due Conference Date
24 Mar: Participatory Design Conference Papers 30 Sep to 04 Oct
28 Mar: NordiCHI Workshop Proposals 20 to 22 Oct

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Updated: 21-Feb-2008

News item at InfoLab21 on SIMTech '07 workshop
News item at Lancaster University on initial grant award

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