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Appreciating plei-plei around mobiles: playfulness in Rah island
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID.
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0002-4825
2012 (English)In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems(CHI '12) / [ed] ACM, New York, NY, USA, ACM Press, 2012, 2015-2024 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

We set out to explore and understand the ways in which mobiles made their way into an environment--Rah Island in Vanuatu--for the first time. We were struck by their playful use, especially given the very limited infrastructure and inexpensive devices that were available. Based on our findings, we discuss tensions between playfulness and utility, in particular relating to socio-economic benefits, and conclude that playfulness in these settings needs to be taken as seriously as in any other setting. Additionally, we formulated three challenges when designing for play in similar settings: (1) engage intimately with the materials of inexpensive ICT; (2) revisit design recommendations for playfulness to ensure that they can travel/translate into other cultures; and (3) alleviate existing tensions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ACM Press, 2012. 2015-2024 p.
Keyword [en]
Playfulness, third wave HCI, ICT4D
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-113294DOI: 10.1145/2207676.2208348ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84862070512ISBN: 978-1-4503-1015-4OAI: diva2:587586
SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Mobile LifeSRA TNG
VinnovaICT - The Next Generation

QC 20130522

Available from: 2013-01-14 Created: 2013-01-14 Last updated: 2015-05-25Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Play as Freedom: Implications for ICT4D
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Play as Freedom: Implications for ICT4D
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Information and Communication Tech nologies for Development (ICT4D) deals with understanding the relationship between modern technology use and social and economic development. While play may not appear as an immediate concern to the field, a recent body of work has emerged questioning the role of play in ICT4D and the reasons behind its apparent dismissal. Some have even argued that aspects of pleasure and enjoyment get only marginal treatment within academic studies of technology more generally. In ICT4D however, concerns over lack of resources and a sense of urgency in addressing more pressing needs, creates in itself an added set of boundaries which may further restrict both the playful activities themselves, as well as their recognition in academic work. In this work I will revisit the work done in ICT4D with regards to play in order to frame the contributions that lie herein.

I will revisit in this work two distinct projects I have worked in during my PhD: the first an ethnographic fieldwork in Rah Island, Vanuatu, where I documented the first weeks of mobile phone usage; the second project took place during an internship at Microsoft Research India, where I participated in the design, development and deployment of KrishiPustak, a social networking system for low-literate users in rural areas around Hunsur district. To understand and unpack my reflections around play in both these projects, I propose a framing of play as a freedom, inspired by Amartya Sen’s work, discussing three of its roles: its instrumental role, in that play serves as a vehicle for achieving secondary outcomes, such as with educational games; its constructive role, in that play in itself unleashes an attitude of deliberation over the boundaries that surround play, questioning and re shaping those boundaries. I draw on Christena Nippert-Eng’s notion of boundary play and boundary work to explore the contributions that play has in constructively determining and reshaping values, goals and priorities in ICT4D work.

But most importantly, this thesis emphasizes play’s third role, its intrinsic role to be the starting point of any understanding: i.e. play is important because people have reasons to value play. This urges us to consider the intrinsic importance, not only to observe play as it unfolds, but to actively design for, and open up opportunities for play to occur.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. 97 p.
TRITA-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2015:11
National Category
Computer Systems
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-167978 (URN)978-91-7595-599-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-06-11, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)

QC 20150525

Available from: 2015-05-25 Created: 2015-05-24 Last updated: 2015-06-12Bibliographically approved

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