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To predict the uses of new technology, we present an approach grounded in science and technology studies (STS) that examines the social uses of current technology. As part of ongoing research on next-generation mobile imaging applications, we conducted an empirical study of the social uses of personal photography. We identify three: memory, creating and maintaining relationships, and self-expression. The roles of orality and materiality in these uses help us explain the observed resistances to intangible digital images and to assigning metadata and annotations. We conclude that this approach is useful for understanding the potential uses of technology and for design.
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From “What?” to “Why?”:
The Social Uses of Personal Photos
Nancy Van House, Marc Davis, Yuri Takhteyev, Nathan Good, Anita Wilhelm, and Megan Finn
School of Information Management and Systems
University of California at Berkeley
102 South Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600
+1 (510) 642-1464
{vanhouse, marc, yuri, ngood, awilhelm, megfinn}
To predict the uses of new technology, we present an approach
grounded in science and technology studies (STS) that examines
the social uses of current technology. As part of ongoing research
on next-generation mobile imaging applications, we conducted an
empirical study of the social uses of personal photography. We
identify three: memory, creating and maintaining relationships,
and self-expression. The roles of orality and materiality in these
uses help us explain the observed resistances to intangible digital
images and to assigning metadata and annotations. We conclude
that this approach is useful for understanding the potential uses of
technology and for design.
Categories and Subject Descriptors
H.5.1 [Information interfaces and presentation (e.g., HCI)]:
Multimedia; H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and Presentation
(e.g., HCI)] User Interfaces - User Centered Design; H.4.3 [In-
formation systems applications]: Communications Applications;
H.3. [Information storage and retrieval]: Information Search
and Retrieval
General Terms
Design, Human Factors.
Mobile camera phones, social uses, photography, social construc-
tion of technology, science and technology studies, multimedia,
orality, storytelling, digital imaging, metadata
Current trends in design focus on users' needs, activities, and
contexts. However, user-centered design is most feasible when
there are current uses and users for whom to design. An important
problem for technology design is predicting users and uses for
emerging technologies—doing user-centered design for users and
uses that don't yet exist. In this paper, we present an analytical
perspective that is useful for theoretically-informed research on
the emergent uses of new technology.
This paper presents findings from an ongoing study of the social
uses of personal photos and how these relate to current and future
uses of imaging technology. We demonstrate how the approach
described here has shaped the interpretation of our findings. The
primary contribution of this work is in: (1) presenting a method
for anticipating future uses of new technology by looking at the
social uses of present technology, in this case, personal photos;
and (2) identifying a robust set of social uses of personal photos.
Among the surprising findings are that the materiality of printed
personal photos is important to many of their social uses and that
the social functions of face-to-face oral interaction help explain
consumer resistance to photo annotation.
The work reported here is part of our research and development of
next-generation mobile imaging applications. We wish to under-
stand how better to design applications for future programmable,
networked, mobile imaging devices (especially cameraphones).
Cameraphones outsold digital cameras worldwide in the first half
of 2003 and are predicted to offer five megapixel resolution by
2008 [26]. From their technical features (accessible operating
system, application APIs, and wireless networking) and economic
advantages in the US market (subsidy by wireless service provid-
ers), cameraphones may likely emerge as the primary imaging
device for consumers in the next decade. However, we assert that
without understanding and designing for the social uses of per-
sonal imaging technology—not just what people do with current
imaging technology, but why—the future promise of mobile
imaging may not be realized.
The current study seeks to uncover underlying social uses of im-
aging technology that will enable us to understand what factors
will condition the migration of existing behaviors from cameras to
future cameraphones, the adoption of emerging uses of camera-
phones by current camera users, the emergence of new uses of
cameraphones, and the resistance to these migrations, adoptions,
and future uses. We have built and tested a cameraphone photo
annotation prototype that leverages spatio-temporal context, so-
cial community, and user interaction at the point of capture to
describe media content [11, 35, 40]. The current study grows out
of that research and our desire to develop a methodology and
growing body of knowledge that can interpret current social uses
of imaging technology to better inform the design of next genera-
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CSCW’04, November 6–10, 2004, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
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tion mobile imaging devices and applications.
A common theme in the HCI and CSCW literatures has been a
call for more socially-informed research (e.g., Dourish [12]).
While CSCW in particular has tried to incorporate an understand-
ing of the social in design (e.g., [2, 12, 13]), many practitioners
still find themselves without guidance in understanding users. Our
approach is an effort to remedy this. Our work is inspired by sev-
eral current approaches to knowledge and work in social theory,
but not completely identified with any one approach. Our argu-
ment is that our approach is useful, which we illustrate with the
example of our work on the social uses of personal photos. The
analytical perspectives that inspire our approach stress the inter-
pretive flexibility of technology, the variety of motives for human
action, and the importance of the material and cultural contexts
for action. Our premise is that to understand whether and how
people will use—or resist—new imaging technology, we need to
understand how they might interpret the new technology and use
it to accomplish their activities. We investigate not just what they
do with current technology, but why.
In the rest of the paper we discuss related work in personal imag-
ing technology studies and systems (Section 2), methodologies for
understanding social uses of technology (Section 3), our study
and its findings (Section 4), the underlying social factors we have
discerned that condition the use of imaging technology (Section
5), and their implications for the design of future imaging tech-
nology (Section 6).
In the HCI literature, much of the work related to photography
has focused on designing systems to manage personal photo col-
lections through assigning keywords or innovations in clustering
and visualization [5, 16, 23, 32] or facilitating sharing [4]. Unfor-
tunately, much of this design work was not connected to in-depth
research into how people use photos and was only validated by
assessing users’ performance on narrow tasks.
Attempts to understand photo use have been made in other fields.
Greenhill [17] investigated the role of photography in supporting
family narratives. She discussed the functions of phototaking and
sharing, in particular photos’ non-communicative functions as
part of childrearing and the enjoyment of holidays. Unfortunately,
Greenhill's findings were based on in-depth interviews with just
one family. Chalfen [10] studied what he called “Kodak culture,”
examining 200 collections of personal photos. By asking inter-
viewees why they think people take photos he identified three
functions of photography: documentation, memory support, and
definition of cultural membership. These early studies, however,
lacked interest in the design of imaging technology and with the
advent of digital photography and mobile imaging in the last five
years new research is warranted.
More recently, Frohlich et al. [14] studied users' needs with the
aim of informing technology design. They studied eleven fami-
lies, using a combination of ethnographic field observations, in-
terviews, and diaries to ask what people do with conventional and
digital photos. People tried to arrange their best photos into al-
bums, but they were unable to keep up with the backlog of pho-
tos. People preferred sharing prints in person to looking at the
computer screen with other people. Frohlich et al. classified what
people did with their photos along two dimensions, here versus
there, and now versus later, creating four categories: “remote
sharing,” “sending,” “archiving,” and “co-present sharing.”
Rodden and Wood [34] gave thirteen subjects digital cameras and
software for organizing digital photos and analyzed their use of
both prints and digital images over a six month period. Again,
participants attempted to organize prints into albums, but often
fell behind. Some wrote captions on the back of the photos, but
most only labeled the envelopes. People tended to keep digital
photos organized by a “roll” of photos taken around the same
time. Some organized digital photos into albums, and assigned
captions to individual photos, but many just labeled the “rolls.”
Rodden and Wood observed that photos tended to be of special
events, such as holidays or weddings, and were taken to remem-
ber the events and were often discussed with friends and family.
While the latter two papers contribute greatly to our understand-
ing of how people use photos, they focus predominately on low-
level actions (what people do) rather than on high-level activities
(why they do it).
A more activity-centered analysis is presented by Okabe and Ito
[30] who have been studying the uses of mobile devices including
cameraphones among young people in Japan. They conclude that
the ubiquity of cameraphones is creating a “new kind of personal
awareness” and changing the nature of the images that get cap-
tured—they are more likely to be casual, immediate moments of
beauty or interest. We borrow some of their methodology, but
apply it to the social uses of personal photos in general with the
aim of informing the design of digital imaging technology.
Photos are not the only kinds of information artifacts that people
share for social reasons. Marshall and Bly [24] looked at how
people share “clippings,” physical or electronic—e.g., posting
articles on bulletin boards, emailing news items to people, cutting
out published pieces for later use. They concluded that much of
the sharing served social functions beyond simply informing,
including: establishing mutual awareness; educating or raising
consciousness; using common interests to develop rapport; or
demonstrating knowledge of the recipient’s unique interests.
These studies have described actual use of existing technologies.
To try to understand future uses of imaging technology, recent
studies have used projective and performance-based methods.
Iacucci et al. [21] had participants carry a “magic thing” (a non-
interactive low-fidelity prototype) through their day in a variety
of contexts. Participants were told the magic thing had the func-
tionality of future devices and were asked to note down uses that
occurred to them in real world contexts. While this approach is
helpful in eliciting potential user actions, it is not focused on un-
covering the larger social uses in which these actions are situated.
Others have looked at social goals as a way of understanding
emergent uses of new technologies. Mynatt et al. [28], comparing
physical and virtual communities, note that actions in one didn't
“translate transparently” to other, and so one should “focus on the
social goals of the activity in relation to the affordances of the
online environment” (p. 136).
In sum, much of the work in HCI on imaging technology is con-
cerned with technology for managing photos. Imaging behavior
has also been studied in the social sciences. To project the future
uses of new technology, however, describing people’s current
actions is insufficient. The approach represented by Mynatt et al.
and Marshall and Bly stresses looking at the social uses of a cur-
rent technology to anticipate the existing social uses that a new
technology may fit.
We draw on a number of socially-informed approaches to under-
standing human activity We will first describe briefly three such
approaches, and then discuss common elements in these and re-
lated analytical perspectives that inform our approach. Finally, we
describe the approach taken in this study.
Activity Theory has been used in HCI to help understand context,
situation, and practice [1, 19, 33]. Nardi [29] describes activity
theory as having three main concerns: consciousness, the asym-
metrical relationship between people and things, and the role of
artifacts in everyday life. The stress on consciousness means that
behavior cannot be understood without reference to the user’s
intentions which are related to current material and social condi-
tions. Artifacts are mediators of human thought and behavior.
They carry a history of social practices, of how people do things
as well as how they understand, and therefore have a large role in
shaping users’ behavior and understandings. The specific material
form of artifacts is significant for, among other things, how they
carry culture and history, and interact with embodied action.
Activity theory has a precise framework and terminology for de-
scribing the relationships among “object” (that which is being
transformed, which may be material or immaterial, e.g., a plan),
subject, activity, action, operations, and tools. Since our goal is
not to use activity theory as our governing framework but as a
generative approach, we can simply say that specific actions or
tasks can only be understood in terms of higher-order motives,
intentions, or activities. A variety of actions are possible for any
higher-order activity, and a variety of activities may motivate any
action. A person taking a picture (an action) may be engaged in
any number of activities. It’s impossible to understand the user’s
activities or goals by observing her actions, and we cannot under-
stand actions without understanding the user’s intentions or activi-
ties. Because the emphasis is on users’ own understandings, the
methodology of activity theory is largely ethnographic.
Distributed cognition (DCog) [19, 20] has also been used in HCI.
While activity theory is largely concerned with the individual,
distributed cognition is largely concerned with the distribution of
cognitive activity across individuals. Both approaches are con-
cerned with the distribution of activity between the human and
non-human, people and their tools. DCog addresses how artifacts
shape as well as are shaped by how people think, see, and under-
stand; and, like activity theory, how the study of (cognitive) activ-
ity cannot be separated from the history of material artifacts and
social practices. Halverson [19] describes both DCog and activity
theory as seeing “the world of artifacts, personal history, culture,
social, and organizational structure through a filter that labels
them as the residue of collaborative cognition, analyzed along
numerous time scales” (p. 246).
The field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) [38] shares
with HCI a concern for the relationship between the social and the
technical. With a few exceptions [2, 37, 39], however, there has
been little crossover between STS and CSCW. One analytical
perspective within STS is Social Construction of Technology
(SCOT) [6, 7]. SCOT has been used to explain after the fact how
a given technology eventually gets stabilized. A key element of
SCOT is interpretive flexibility: a given artifact may have differ-
ent meanings (including uses) for different groups. This meaning
is constrained but not determined by the design and is created by
users as they match the possibilities of the technology to their
problems or desires. A successful design is used by multiple rele-
vant social groups for varied uses. In a classic SCOT study, Bijker
[6] showed how the design of the bicycle varied over 50 years
before it stabilized into what we would recognize today. The
“young men of nerve and means” who wanted racing machines
and the people who wanted bicycles for transportation both ac-
cepted rubber tires, for example, which proved to be both com-
fortable and fast.
Resistance occurs when the design—or the policies and practices
of the designers or operators of the technology—does not fit the
intentions and activities of its users. Kline [22] reports that when
phones were introduced in rural America, the telephone compa-
nies tried to define eavesdropping and joining into others’ conver-
sations as rude, because n-way conversations drained the compa-
nies’ batteries faster. However, these practices fit the commu-
nity’s prior practices of casual group socializing and helped re-
lieve the isolation of farm residents. They key explanatory move
in SCOT is to show how a technology gets adopted and its design
stabilized (however briefly) when multiple groups find it a work-
able solution to one or more of their (often differing) problems.
SCOT and related approaches have provided effective post hoc
explanations for why some technologies have succeeded and oth-
ers failed. Our approach is a kind of reverse SCOT. We argue that
to conjecture about whether and how people will use emerging
technology and to optimize the design accordingly, we need to
understand people’s prior social activities, goals, and problems,
and then hypothesize about how the technology in question may
fit these conditions and be adopted, or fail to fit and be resisted.
4.1 Conceptual Framework
For our approach, we draw on several elements common to social
constructivist approaches to human action. First, these approaches
posit a “seamless web” of technology and the social, politics, and
economics. Second, they stress ethnographically-informed meth-
ods that seek to understand participants’ own interpretations [8].
Social constructivist and ethnomethodological approaches assume
that social institutions are actively constructed by ordinary mem-
bers of society in their moment-to-moment, improvisational solu-
tions to practical problems. These situated approaches give an
important place to practice, people’s actual, daily, embodied ac-
tions, including their interactions with others and with resources,
including tools, which carry a history of prior social uses and
understandings. Artifacts both shape and are shaped by users’
understandings. They are not just extensions of human action;
they are intimately involved in the construction of action and
meaning and its persistence across time and place.
Our contention is that to understand how people will use new
technology, we need to look, not just at what they do with current
technology, but why. Then we can ask how new technology may
fit those motives, goals, and practices, the entire interdependent
matrix of action, artifacts, meanings, practices, and social rela-
tions, and how it might be designed to better exist within and
support them. Other research has asked what people do in captur-
ing, storing, retrieving, and using images. Our concern is why. It
is possible, even likely, that with changes in technology people
will use personal photos for purposes other than the current ones,
but to begin with it is useful to look at the current purposes or
intentions of use.
Asking people “why” is sometimes useful but not sufficient. Their
answers are likely to be at the action level rather than the activity
level. And, as ethnographic research posits, people are often un-
able to articulate exactly what they do and why. At the same time,
we cannot ascribe our reasons to their actions. Our approach,
therefore, is ethnographically-informed, consisting of interviews
with people, observations of their photos and photo use, and pro-
jective questions about possible use scenarios freed from current
technological constraints in order to uncover social uses.
4.2 Goals of This Study
Our primary concern is the social uses of personal photography:
the reasons people take photos, the kinds of photos they take,
what they do with them afterward (including which photos and
how many photos they keep, whether and how they assign meta-
data, including captions and annotations), and where and how
they store photos. We were also especially interested in their
photo sharing practices: with whom, how, when, and what kinds
of photos they share with others. From this we derived a set of the
social uses of personal photos. The purpose of this study was both
to identify these uses and to test the approach of seeking social
uses to explain observed and reported actions.
4.3 Methods
The data reported in this paper come primarily from a series of
interviews with casual photographers about their personal photog-
raphy, including analog camera users, digital camera users, and
cameraphone users. In addition, we have collected data from sev-
eral other sources, which we draw on in this paper. We conducted
two focus groups of seven and eight graduate students in informa-
tion management and systems to discuss their image capture,
storage, sharing, and retrieval habits. We examined a total of 20
publicly accessible photo collections, ranging from 10 to 5000
photos. The collections included personal photo albums focusing
on friends, family, and events, a genealogical album with photos
of ancestors, portfolios of serious photographers, and individual
and collective photoblogs with and without themes.
Through informal channels, we identified willing study partici-
pants who had been taking pictures for at least a year; had used
their present camera for at least six months; and took a minimum
of about 50 pictures a year. We did not require that they used
digital imaging technology; all but three did, though many were
far from avid digital users. We interviewed a total of 13 people
about their practices of taking, sharing, annotating and retrieving,
and using photos. Since much personal photography revolves
around family and especially children, we sought a mix of people
with and without children, but we found that some of our “sin-
gles” still took many pictures of the children of friends and fam-
ily. We interviewed: five individuals without children; two indi-
viduals (one single, one married interviewed alone) and one cou-
ple with children living at home; one couple without children; and
one pair of a grandmother and great-grandmother. Four of these
interviewees (one couple, one pair of roommates) were camera-
phone users. [Note to reviewers: we are continuing these inter-
views and will update the final paper, if accepted, to incorporate
later interviews.]
Interviews were conducted in the participants’ homes, and lasted
about two hours. We asked them to show us their cameras and
their photos. We videotaped the interviews, and took both video
and still photos of their cameras, photos and photo storage, and
the photos displayed around their home.
A subset of these interviews was specific to cameraphone users.
Our goal in the cameraphone interviews was to interview dyads,
at least one of which was a camera phone user. We were inter-
ested in what sorts of photos people take with cameraphones and
how they share them. At this point, we have interviewed two such
pairs. Our focus groups with graduate students were also all re-
cent cameraphones users. Our findings support those of [30] that
people tend to take different kinds of pictures with cameraphones:
random things to make friends laugh, things they find interesting
or beautiful, and photos of friends
We asked questions all participants about the following:
(1) Their camera equipment and photography habits: what kind of
camera they own and how they decided to purchase it, what they
do and don’t like about their camera, and, finally, to get at possi-
ble future uses we asked, “If we had magic technology that could
do anything you wanted, what do you wish your camera could do
that it doesn’t now?” [21].
(2) Their phototaking patterns: when and under what conditions
they take photos, of what, how often. We asked whether the pho-
tographer gets to be in the photos, and what makes some photos
(3) Their photo storage and retrieval, including which photos they
keep and why, how long, where, how organized and labeled, and
how they find older photos. We asked them what would make this
process easier.
(4) Their photo sharing, including under what circumstances and
how they show or send photos to others, what kind of photos, with
whom, why, how, and whether and how they annotated or cap-
tioned photos. We asked the same about the photos others share
with them. And again, we asked what they would like to be able
to do differently, what would make photo sharing easier.
4.4 Findings
In this section we report what people did: what photos they took,
and what they did with them. In the following section we discuss
the social uses of personal photos.
4.4.1 Cameras
Most of our participants owned or had access to a digital camera.
While some were avid digital users, others were still getting ac-
quainted with digital photography. Most had multiple cameras,
often both analog and digital. Those who actively used multiple
cameras tended to have particular uses or reasons for each. For
example, one person found the shutter lag on her digital camera
too slow for candid shots of children, so she used both a digital
camera and an analog point-and-shoot camera. Several people
used analog cameras because they had interchangeable (especially
zoom) lenses. Most of the digital cameras were smaller and
lighter than analog cameras and so people tended to carry digital
cameras around more, reserving analog cameras for photo expedi-
tions. Most participants believed that analog cameras created
better quality images (though few had tested this for themselves).
Participants who carried both analog and digital cameras reported
capturing more “important” images on the analog cameras (i.e.,
pictures they think they will cherish for a long time).
4.4.2 Phototaking Patterns
Our findings about the kinds of pictures that people take are con-
sistent with those of earlier research. Among our participants,
pictures tended to be of family and friends, vacations, and special
events. Pets were also popular. We identified two other distinctive
types of photos: “art” (taken for aesthetic reasons) and “fun”
(funny in and of themselves, or in the context in which they were
to be used). For example, one participant takes daily pictures
containing a gnome that a friend posts on the web (See Figure 1).
Figure 1. “Gnome at Grand Canyon” from
Participants who had taken other kinds of photos earlier, but then
had children come into their lives, reported a sharp drop in non-
family photos [10]
Both print and digital photos were subject to what we called a
“funnel effect” in which many photos taken, while only a few get
added to albums. Ratios varied from 10-to-1 to one participant
displaying all but a few “indescribable” photos. Most commonly,
between 10% and 25% of photos taken were put on display in
photo albums, frames, bulletin boards, refrigerators, and the like.
Our preliminary review of photos online, including photoblogs,
showed that people use online sites for many of the same pur-
poses (friends and family, vacations, events), but with a prepon-
derance of fun or art pictures which are more likely to be mean-
ingful to strangers on public photo sites.
4.4.3 Storage and Retrieval
Consistent with other studies [16], we found that time is a major
organizing principle for most photo users, both digital and analog.
Photos taken over time are automatically ordered by both tech-
nologies: all prints from a roll of film come back from developing
sequenced in an envelope; the photos downloaded from a camera
to a computer are given sequential identifiers based on when the
photos were taken or downloaded. Many users reported being
“too lazy” to annotate and impose their own organization on pho-
tos. And, for the most part, time is a useful organizing principle.
Photos taken at or near the same time are often of the same con-
tent. A favored few images get added organization by person,
place, or event. Most digital camera users had no more than one
layer of folders, with folders given a descriptive name about
place, event, or person: e.g., “Mexico,” “vacation,” “family.” Archiving
Everyone who had prints had what we came to refer to as “the
box,” often multiple boxes, drawers, and sometimes bags: the
place(s) where most prints ended up, not in albums but in the
envelopes from which they came back from processing. While
participants differed in their propensity to throw away photos—
which seemed to correlate with their overall habits of collecting
versus discarding—many found it much harder to throw away
prints than to delete digital images. Some talked about preserving
the integrity of a “roll” as a record of an event, throwing away
only the greatest failures. Many surprisingly saw prints as more
appropriate than digital media for archiving images. Some spoke
of computer failures and losing image files. (Although one re-
ported having her house burn down with all her prints and another
participant lost a prized envelope of selected photos of her family
on an international flight.) Since some had old family photos that
had been handed down in paper form (none reported having old
negatives), their sense of paper as an appropriate archival medium
is based in part on experience. Some of the digital users worried
about the obsolescence of digital storage media. Some of the digi-
tal users stored digital images on CDs, not on their hard drives. Annotation and Metadata
Most participants reported minimal annotation, most commonly a
scribble on the outside of an envelope of prints noting date, loca-
tion, or event, and maybe people: e.g., “Yosemite, Summer 2002,
with Jeff.” Digital photos are sometimes given descriptive names
if and when users edit and save a photo: e.g., “girls&santa.jpg.” A
few participants—working with paper prints—do extensive anno-
tation about the photo and its circumstances, in essence telling a
story about the photo, in the margins of photo albums or on the
pages of a scrapbook.
Most participants tended to rely on their own memories concern-
ing the content of photos. They generally wanted the photos dated
and appreciated prints with the dates on the back, while they uni-
versally hated digital images with dates embedded in the image.
They were less concerned with recording other metadata, gener-
ally saying that they knew the people and places. This reliance on
memory instead of metadata had several possible reasons. First,
participants complained about the time and effort required to an-
notate photos (and organize them in albums or folders). Second,
as we discuss below, the act of face-to-face oral storytelling with
photos was important. We asked people if they would like a way
to record audio clips with pictures—annotations and stories, simi-
lar to the current “talking frames.” Reactions were mixed. In es-
sence, people did not want to do the recording. But another reason
that seemed to be more potent was the preference for face-to-face
storytelling outweighed any perceived benefits of recorded audio.
4.4.4 Sharing Photos
When we asked with whom they shared photos, the answer was,
understandably enough, mostly family and friends. When we
asked which photos they shared, the prevailing answer was im-
ages of people or events of significance to the recipient. One per-
son said that the grandparents wanted photos of the grandchildren,
not of the family’s vacation; they were interested in the people,
not the place A few participants maintained photoblogs and had
the added dimension of sharing photos with “fans” of their blogs
who included known and unknown people.
People often shared photos by simply passing around envelopes
of prints. Some left prints lying around in high-traffic areas of the
house for people to look at as they wished. A recurring artifact in
our visits to people's homes was a wall, shelf, or mantlepiece
covered with photos of family and friends (See Figure 2). These
photos are always on view, and act as a continual, passive re-
minder of persons and events.
The most striking finding was the connection between prints and
sharing. Everyone we talked with had images displayed around
the house—the mantlepiece or shelf of family photos (See Figure
2), or the accretion of pictures on the refrigerator. Photo albums
have a particular place in photo sharing. The act of looking at
(and, more rarely, making) an album is a social act, two or three
people sitting together to look at the pictures and tell stories (See
Figure 3). While many albums are chronological, some represent
special events (vacations, anniversaries) and some are of people—
one respondent is making an album for each of the children in her
life, with photos showing them over time. Interestingly, while all
participants enjoyed sharing prints with other outside of the home,
people didn’t take their photo albums to other people’s houses,
but would show them to visitors.
4.4.5 What features do they want?
When we asked people what features they would want on a cam-
era, the most commonly named was zoom. Many didn't explain
why—we gathered three major reasons. First, zoom gives people
more control over the image itself, the ability to, in essence, crop
an image in the camera. Second, zoom gives some control over
place or location: the photographer can move closer without mov-
ing, for example, when taking a picture across water. Third, zoom
allows a difference between social and physical space. One per-
son commented on wanting to take a picture of someone sitting at
a sidewalk café in a gorilla suit, but was reluctant to pull out her
zoomless camera so close to the subject. Interestingly, most cur-
rent cameraphones (which lack zoom and have fairly wide angle
lenses) require that their users enter a subject’s intimate space of
physical proximity (2 feet away or less [18]) in order to get a
close-up shot of a person’s face. Another highly valued feature
was flash, which gave people more independence from lighting
constraints and enabled night photography. Digital camera users
often wished for better resolution—most had moderately-priced
cameras with similarly moderate resolution. Several people
wanted a digital camera for children: inexpensive and rugged.
Several told us that their children did take pictures, even fairly
young children. Digital cameras would provide the instant gratifi-
cation of seeing their image, and avoid the cost of printing.
Figure 2. Home Display of Family Photos
Some participants used digital cameras or cameraphones to trans-
port, display, and share digital images. Sometimes they simply
looked at images on the camera, in other cases, they plugged the
camera into the TV. Most participants were not opposed to view-
ing images on computers, and some even commented on the qual-
ity of the image (larger and crisper than a print). Some did view
images on their computer with family and friends. Those whose
images were mainly digital used the computer for their own view-
ing and others’. But the sociality of viewing images together
seemed to be associated in most participants’ experience with the
act of viewing prints, especially in photo albums.
Some talked about emailing photos, especially to distant family,
and some used or wanted to use photo sharing websites. Many
received images as attachments or URLs. People were much more
inclined to delete email attachments than to throw away photos
received in the mail. Several said that when they share photos
they prefer giving (and receiving) photos hand-to-hand rather than
mailing them. One person wanted to be able to “squirt” photos
from her PDA to another’s using infrared, because she spoke of
the other as being in the same room, not distant. Particularly good
photos may be framed as gifts. Photos, ranging from loose snap-
shots to framed portraits, have a clear connotation of gift [25].
5.1 The Social Uses of Personal Photos
Our findings provide a catalog of what our participants said and
demonstrated about their personal photography practices. Under-
lying these various actions are social uses that these actions sat-
isfy. We identified a set of social uses which seem to motivate
and shape the imaging practices we observed and documented:
memory (both personal and collective), relationships (both creat-
ing and maintaining), and self-expression. These social uses
interact with material aspects of the imaging technology,
embodied social communication, and narrative activity employed
by our participants. Specifically, these uses help to explain the
high value placed on the materiality of photographic artifacts, the
surprising centrality of unmediated oral communication in our
subjects’ use of photos, and the recurrent use of photos in story-
telling, which calls upon and serves all of these factors: memory,
relationships, self expression, materiality, and orality.
5.1.1 Memory
A major theme in the interviews was the role of photographs in
memory, personal and collective. Images have an ability to evoke
Figure 3. Photo Sharing with a Photo Album
memories, including sensual memories. One respondent who is
now seriously ill spoke of viewing pictures from earlier parts of
her life, especially travel, and remembering not just the sights but
the tastes and smells of other places. An active photoblogger real-
ized, after a year of photoblogging, that she had a record of her
life during that period for herself and her as-yet unborn children.
Photos are not only about one's own memories but others’. Our ill
participant is preparing albums for each of the children in her life
consisting of photos and written stories about times she spent with
them. She says that this is not only so that they will remember
her, but to help them see what they themselves were like. We
conjecture that people's attitudes toward photo annotation are
associated with issues of memory and mortality. The person de-
scribed above spoke frankly about wanting the children to re-
member that she had been a part of their lives. On the other hand,
we interviewed a 98½ year old great-grandmother and her daugh-
ter, neither of whom was especially worried that the older woman
was the only person who knew the identities of many people in
her extensive collection of family photos.
The memory function of photo use has informational components,
but is strongly emotional. Favored images were usually spoken of
not in terms of the quality of the image but of the memories and
emotions evoked. In this context, “the box” has a particular bene-
fit: rummaging through a box of photos creates unexpected en-
counters with images and thus with memories, an unplanned,
undirected revisiting of events, people, and emotions. A couple
looking through their images with us exclaimed with pleasure
when the found an image of an event they had forgotten.
5.1.2 Relationships
The strong presence of family and friends in people's photos high-
lights the importance of interpersonal relationships and photos.
Photos are used, not just to remember people and events, but to
maintain existing relationships and even create new ones. Photos
were valuable not only for themselves but for the connections
among them and among the people represented, and for the active
role they played in relationships.
People were often identified (by themselves or others) as the fam-
ily/group photographer or the family archivist. These people
tended to see the task of maintaining the photographic record as
critically important, especially within families. One interesting
issue is how the photos of earlier generations migrate forward.
The informal family archivists keep track of who has which old
family photos and try to acquire and consolidate the collection. A
student whose family is now spread across at least two continents
brought back old family pictures from a recent trip to his family’s
homeland and is now trying to identify the subjects and their fam-
ily relationships. He is scanning the images to create CDs for
family members. These photos were not simply informative, but
were material traces of the continuity of the family over time and
place. Other participants are the photographers for a family or
social group who count on them to take pictures. Unfortunately,
the photographer is rarely in the picture: the person who cares the
most about documenting events and keeping track of friends and
family is often the least visible.
Many people spoke of sharing photos to keep people up on what's
going on in one's life, as a form of reporting or journaling, but
also as a way of connecting to loved ones. We spoke with a cou-
ple who had spent a year living on separate continents, during
which they used photoblogging extensively and would send pho-
tos to their private photoblog in near real-time “like a kiss or a
hug.” Cameraphone users talked of sending photos sporadically
throughout the day just to make the other laugh. The sense of real
time capture and sharing (i.e., the “Power of Now” we identified
in our focus group studies [40]) was important to the senders. One
way that online images help maintain relationships is when a
viewer finds that a photographer has posted an image of the
viewer—an indication that one is important to the other. A young
person’s photoblog had a section labeled “friends” with the nota-
tion, “If you’re here you know you’re loved.”
While traditional photo sharing served largely to maintain exist-
ing relationships, the photobloggers also used their blogs to create
new social relationships. One person discovered that her blog
helped her to make connections in a city where she knew few
people: her blog had readers, some of whom she connected with
via the blog, some of whom she met, including one who recog-
nized from her images that they lived in the same neighborhood.
Photos—especially photoblogs—are also a form of self-
presentation [15], which is about managing others' impressions of
oneself. Like personal webpages [27], photoblogs are a way of
creating an online identity. Photobloggers did not want to incor-
porate other people’s photos in their blogs since their blogs were
about “their own point of view on the world.”
5.1.3 Self-Expression
Photos are also used as self-expression, including art and fun
images. Although self-presentation and self-expression are re-
lated, self-presentation is about influencing others' views of one-
self (which may include deception), while self-expression is about
giving expression to our “authentic” self. Several participants
clearly distinguished their picturetaking that was for recording
family events from their photos for self-expression. Two of our
participants worked in black and white at least part of the time for
their art photography, and color for other photography. One nota-
ble finding from our review of online personal photos was how
many seemed to be intended to be artistic or beautiful images.
5.2 Media and Resistance
Understanding image-related activity helps to explain two surpris-
ing findings from our empirical work: participants’ attachment to
printed images, and their resistance to recording metadata. These
two areas of resistance, which might have been seen as unreason-
able or ill-informed, are understandable when we consider the
social uses to which people put images.
5.2.1 Materiality
A major theme in our interviews was the ways in which people
used the affordances of the materiality of printed images. Many
participants relied heavily on prints, even of digital images. The
exception seemed to be users who had access to web-based tools
for sharing photos, or photoblogs, who printed less.
The social theoretical approaches to activity and distributed action
that we described in Section 3 stress the importance of artifacts
and their particularity as shaping behavior and carrying prior
understandings and practices. They also stress the interpretive
flexibility of technology and how people find ways to align arti-
facts and practices to accomplish their goals.
The materiality of prints interacts with the social uses of images
and the practices of creating, using, and sharing them in striking
ways. Displayed and casually scattered prints enabled unplanned
and repeated encounters with images. Participants generally
treated prints as more precious and less easily discarded than
electronic images. The sharing of prints also had clear connota-
tions of gift. People generally preferred sharing them face to face
if possible. Even when the image wasn’t of interest, the fact of the
gift of a photo was considered to be a significant part of relation-
ship maintenance and an expression of caring and connection.
Participants expressed the greatest sense of obligation and of
dereliction around the creation of photo albums. Those who regu-
larly put prints in albums spoke of being “behind,” and some
could even tell us how far behind they were (“four months;”
“those envelopes on the shelf”). People repeatedly used the self-
judging word “lazy” to describe their lack of annotation and al-
buming. People who didn’t create albums said that they “ought
to” and “definitely planned to.” Albums appear to be sociotechni-
cal artifacts for which people feel a responsibility toward others.
There are norms of behavior associated with pictures, especially
albums, such that people felt a responsibility to be maintaining
5.2.2 Orality
A surprising and significant finding in our study was the central
role of face-to-face oral communication in our participants’ use of
photos, and their overall lack of interest in assigning metadata and
making annotations. The act of sharing photos in a photo album
was as much (if not more so) about talking with family and
friends as it was about looking at the photographs. Oral
communication seemed to serve first and foremost the function of
maintaining social relationships, but also was often the primary
mode of intergenerational transmission of memory and identity.
The vast majority of contextual and content metadata (i.e., who,
what, where, when, why, etc.) of photos was stored in human
memory and transmitted through intimate speech.
To better understand the function of oral communication in our
participants' use of photos, we refer to the work of Walter Ong
[31]. Ong’s classic study of orality identified three main phases in
the evolution of communication and media: “orality” (or “primary
orality”) is the phase of oral culture prior to the advent of writing;
“literacy” is the phase from the invention of writing through the
invention of the printing press up to before the advent of the first
electronic communications technology; “secondary orality” is the
phase from the invention of the telegraph to the present day and
recovers some aspects of orality by connecting people across
space through mediated interaction (e.g., the telephone). In the
modern day, aspects of primary orality, literacy and secondary
orality all intertwine in our social uses of communication and
communications technologies.
According to Ong, orality has seven main aspects, six of which
speak directly to our findings as to how and why people talked
about their photos to one another: orality is (1) “evanescent” (i.e.,
it produces sounds which have no record); (2) “additive rather
than subordinative, aggregative rather than analytic” (i.e., it has
different organizing principles than written communication); (3)
“close to the human lifeworld,” rather than about abstract con-
cepts); (4) “agonistically toned” (this aspect of orality was absent
from the intimate social structures we studied); (5) “empathetic
and participatory rather than objectively distanced” (6) socially
cohesive and knits people together into community; and (7) “ho-
meostatic” (oral cultures change slowly and yet are continually
renewed in each generation).
The centrality of orality in our subjects’ use of photos appears in
interesting contradistinction to the emphasis on the materiality of
prints. The combination of orality and materiality makes sense in
terms of the social theoretic emphasis on objects as organizing
activity. The photo needed to be an object; the photo’s detailed
metadata existed (with few exceptions) primarily as interpersonal
and intergenerational conversations that were evanescent, additive
and aggregative, close to the human lifeworld, empathetic and
participatory rather than objectively distanced, functioned to bring
about social cohesion and community maintenance, and aspired to
homeostasis by trying to both renew and preserve the memories
and experiences of individuals and groups. While participants
acknowledged that relying on oral transmission of personal and
family knowledge often resulted in tragic loss of information, in
their daily lives the affordances of text or recorded audio for cap-
turing photo metadata did not seem to satisfy their deep needs for
intimacy, immediacy, and connection that face-to-face oral com-
munication offers. This resistance presents an intriguing and im-
portant challenge to digital imaging application designers.
Seeing our participants' social uses of photos as an admixture of
orality and literacy, we can understand the process of photo al-
buming within the context of a similar practice born in early oral
culture, that of the rhetorical memory palace. Frances Yates de-
scribes the memory palace of classical rhetoric [41], a cognitive
device used in oral culture to remember and deliver long
speeches. The rhetor would visualize a familiar architectural
structure like a palace and to remember parts of a speech would
imagine a series of highly evocative images placed in the alcoves
of the palace. To deliver a speech the rhetor would in the mind’s
eye stroll through the memory palace stopping at alcoves to
unpack the discourse that had been condensed in the highly
evocative, often allegorical ima
In the oral process of storytelling with photos we see striking
similarities to the rhetorical memory palace: images and image
sequences that are evocative and condensed, i.e., that can elicit
narrative discourse, are selected for inclusion in the photo album
and the arrangement of images in the album is designed to facili-
tate the oral production of a narrative. It is in the narrative func-
tion of photos and photo sharing that we see all of the preceding
social uses of memory, relationships, self-expression, materiality,
and orality come together.
5.2.3 Storytelling
Personal photos are used as an occasion for storytelling: “this is
when we went here and did this and so-and-so was with us.” Sto-
ries are for both the people who were there (“remember when
we…”) and those who weren't (“this is your Aunt Mary who…”).
Personal photos support the oral transmission of family stories
and intergenerational experience and knowledge. Storytelling is a
recurring use of photos deeply connected to the social use of
memory as well as a fundamental cognitive process for organizing
and remembering experience. As Endel Tulving points out, “epi-
sodic” memory is a fundamental way we remember events in our
own and other’s lives [36]. Jerome Bruner describes narrative as a
basic mode of cognition that enables us to organize our experi-
ence as narrative events in order to be able to better understand
and remember them [9]. “Narrative Intelligence” researchers see
narrative as a fundamental form of human intelligence which
many seek to represent, manage, and produce computationally
[3]. The narrative use of photos among our participants serves to
structure and transmit personal, interpersonal, and especially int-
ergenerational memory, to replay, share, and deepen social ex-
perience and relationship, to express personal and group identity,
relies on the materiality of the photographic artifact as a conden-
sation and elicitor of story, and functions through, and enables to
function, intimate oral discourse.
5.3 Conclusions
Social theoretical perspectives, especially the SCOT approach,
caution us to ask what culturally and historically conditioned
motives, intentions, and practices—in our terminology, social
uses—shape both the content and the form of people’s actions.
Artifacts (like photos) carry a prior history of practice and under-
standings and shape people’s actions. Photos—specifically
prints—are deeply implicated in memory, relationships, and self-
expression. The tangible photo and associated material artifacts
like photo albums are almost inextricably part of the practices of
orality and storytelling. Digital images can of course be printed.
Beyond that, digital images also support new practices aimed at
prior and emerging social uses, as shown by the popularity of the
photoblog—a technology situated within the social uses of mem-
ory, creating and maintaining relationships, and self-expression.
Our point is not to be pessimistic about digital imaging—which is
overtaking film—nor to insist that digital technology will simply
replace film as a capture medium for producing printed photos.
Rather, our point is that examining the social uses and associated
long-established practices, the deep, mutual constitution of social
uses, practices, technology, and artifacts, we get a much more
complex, complete, and nuanced understanding of the domain for
which we are designing, which can only improve our designs
(while nonetheless complicating our task).
This study aims to provide a new approach to the design of digital
imaging, especially cameraphone, technology by arguing for the
investigation of the social uses of personal photography as a
foundation for design. By uncovering the underlying social uses
that digital imaging technologies can address, we can design tech-
nologies that people actually want and use.
This paper is intended to demonstrate the value of this approach
for anticipating future uses and users of a new technology. Sci-
ence and technology studies (STS) and the SCOT approach gen-
erally deal with explaining technology success after the fact as an
interaction of technology and the social, with an emphasis on the
problems, goals, and activities of potential technology users. This
paper demonstrates that the analysis can also go the opposite di-
rection, asking whether and how an emerging technology may be
aligned with pre-existing activities, goals, and needs. It also dem-
onstrates the value of social science approaches concerned with
understanding human action, not just in relation to technology.
More specifically, this paper shows that social uses are an essen-
tial construct for user-centered inquiry. To design technology to
be useful and used, we need to understand not only what users are
doing but also why. Like Activity Theory, our approach employs
a level of abstraction above the specifics of actions to understand
the larger situated goals and intentions behind them. We also need
to understand how artifacts of all kinds carry history and culture,
and shape as well as reflect understanding and action. We cannot
understand how users will respond to new or redesigned artifacts
without understanding the meaning that they have for the users.
Several implications seem clear: the resistances that users express
in relation to technology may not simply be matters of “ease-of-
use” but of more profound resistances to the mismatch between
the technological medium and existing social uses. The social
uses of memory and relationships rely on the importance of the
materiality of photographic artifacts and the orality of narrative
discourse around these artifacts. These findings mean that the
immateriality of the digital medium itself on the one hand and the
mediation of digital recordings (whether textual or verbal) on the
other face resistance in relation to the primary modes in which
people currently address basic social concerns.
We do not yet have answers about what to design in light of these
findings, but argue that they are significant in their influence on
the resistances and affordances of current and future digital imag-
ing technology. Moreover, if we can serve multiple social uses of
multiple social groups simultaneously, we can design technolo-
gies that may achieve easier and more widespread adoption.
This social use framework can also help explain why some
emerging technologies are encountering resistance or gaining
acceptance. Photoblogging is increasing in popularity we believe
due in large part to its ability to serve the social uses of memory,
creating and maintaining relationships, and self-expression. Anno-
tation software (such as Adobe PhotoShop Album or our own
Mobile Media Metadata prototype for photo annotation on cam-
eraphones [11, 35, 40]) face consumer resistance not merely due
to the complexity or difficulty of annotation, but because of the
primarily social function of photo sharing. Possible solutions to
this resistance include greater automation, incorporating metadata
into the flow of social uses surrounding personal photos, and
seamlessly creating metadata as a byproduct of these uses.
6.1 Future Work
The social uses of personal photography outlined in our study
lead us to think about new ways to design digital imaging applica-
tions. We plan further interviews with photo users, particularly
more discussions with current cameraphone users. We will ad-
dress a more diverse group, including more non-family photo
users. We will also continue our examination of public photo
sites. We intend to ground our future technological design process
in the continued study of social uses. We will use our studies of
social uses to inform our design methods and technology devel-
opment of our next-generation Mobile Media Metadata prototypes
and use our technology prototyping to help us uncover and better
understand the underlying social uses for imaging technology.
Finally, we will continue work on the theoretical framework,
investigating the uses of social theoretical work, especially from
STS, for the design of technology.
Our thanks to the many people who invited us into their homes,
showed us their photo collections, and admitted how far behind
they are in putting their prints into albums.
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... In light of emerging new technologies, he later developed and refined the concept of the "tourist gaze". For instance, while in The Tourist Gaze 2.0 he referred the role of mass media in shaping tourists' gaze before their travel to the destination (Urry, 2002), in the latest version he argued that the role of mass media is decreased by blurring boundaries between tourism and everyday life (Urry & Larsen, 2011). Larsen (2006) understood the tourist gaze and tourist photography as intertwined practices. ...
... Sharing activities during travel offers tourists the opportunity to create meaningful travel experiences ( Wang et al., 2012). The camera is also turned into a useful tool for presenting the "self" (Van House et al., 2004). Tourists spend a lot of time presenting an ideal image of the self that represents their achievements and dreams, which they wish to be seen through the photos they capture in the course of their travels (Stylianou-Lambert, 2012). ...
... It seems that many tourists take the photos that they 'must take' (Albers & James, 1988;Bourdieu, 2003) because they have seen those monuments in travel adverts and this was a reason to choose the destination. Due to the role of social media, mental clichés force them to take those photos as soon as they see them (Urry & Larsen, 2011). While many of these photos are mere conventional images that can found in most media, even in the same perspective, some have personal meaning for tourists. ...
... More recently, this inquiry has grown to include casual photographers, as well as people who regularly post photos to online communities. Within this context, people report that photography serves several functions, which can be conceptually grouped into those related to memory, social, self-expressive, and self-representative functions (Van House, 2011;Van House et al., 2004). A similar pattern was also observed in survey responses when participants were asked to freely report the reasons they take photos, with the majority of responses including themes about memory, as well as social, aesthetic, and work or hobby-related functions (Finley et al., 2018). ...
Digital technologies have changed the everyday use of human memory. When information is saved or made readily available online, there is less need to encode or maintain access to that information within the biological structures of memory. People increasingly depend on the Internet and various digital devices to learn and remember, but the implications and consequences of this dependence remain largely unknown. The present chapter provides an overview of research to date on memory in the digital age. It focuses in particular on issues related to transactive memory, cognitive offloading, photo taking, social media use, and learning in the classroom.
... Others have examined the role of the family photo album in sending forward an often idealized history for future family members (Hirsch, 2012;Langford, 2001;Spence and Holland, 1991). Van House et al. (2004) interviewed casual photographers about why they took photos, and responses fell generally into three categories: memory, creating and maintaining social relationships, and artistic expression. Some years later, similar themes emerged from interviews with Flickr users, along with an additional category: self-representation (online and in other social settings)-the addition of which was perhaps due to the growth of social media networking (Van House, 2011). ...
People often report taking photos to aid memory. Two mixed-method surveys were used to investigate participants' reasons for taking photos, focusing specifically on memory-related reasons, which were split into two sub-types: photos taken as mementos, and photos taken as a means of offloading information. Participants reported their motivations for taking a sample of photos and then rated their recollective experience of each photographed event. Across both studies, participants reported recollecting events associated with a memento goal more vividly, more positively, and with more emotional intensity than events associated with an offloading goal. As expected, events photographed with a memento goal were also rated by participants to be more reflective of a shared memory system between the participants and the camera than were events photographed with an offloading goal. These findings suggest that people's motivations when taking photos tend to be associated with different types of recollective experiences, as well as different judgments about where personal information is located in a blended human-camera memory system.
... More recently, this inquiry has grown to include casual photographers, as well as people who regularly post photos to online communities. Within this context, people report that photography serves several functions, which can be conceptually grouped into those related to memory, social, self-expressive, and self-representative functions (Van House, 2011;Van House et al., 2004). A similar pattern was also observed in survey responses when participants were asked to freely report the reasons they take photos, with the majority of responses including themes about memory, as well as social, aesthetic, and work or hobby-related functions (Finley et al., 2018). ...
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Digital technologies have changed the everyday use of human memory. When information is saved or made readily available online, there is less need to encode or maintain access to that information within the biological structures of memory. People increasingly depend on the Internet and various digital devices to learn and remember, but the implications and consequences of this dependence remain largely unknown. The present chapter provides an overview of research to date on memory in the digital age. It focuses in particular on issues related to transactive memory, cognitive offloading, photo taking, social media use, and learning in the classroom.
Digital Participatory Planning outlines developments in the field of digital planning and designs and trials a range of technologies, from the use of apps and digital gaming through to social media, to examine how accessible and effective these new methods are. It critically discusses urban planning, democracy, and computing technology literature, and sets out case studies on design and deployment. It assesses whether digital technology offers an opportunity for the public to engage with urban change, to enhance public understanding and the quality of citizen participation, and to improve the proactive possibilities of urban planning more generally. The authors present an exciting alternative story of citizen engagement in urban planning through the reimagination of participation that will be of interest to students, researchers, and professionals engaged with a digital future for people and planning.
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A decade ago, scholars of international relations articulated a research agenda for the study of popular culture and world politics (PCWP), and since then a burgeoning literature has grown in this area. This article critically reflects on the research agenda put forward by Grayson, Davies, and Philpott and explores how recent scholarship has furthered the study of PCWP. In doing so, this article identifies four limitations of current research and suggests that if PCWP scholarship is to remain committed to understanding how power, identities, ideologies, and actions are made commonsense and legitimate, while also problematizing global inequalities and injustices, then it needs to pay greater attention to the analysis of four areas. These are (1) race, colonialism, and intersectionality in PCWP; (2) the impact of digital technology on PCWP; (3) the audience interpretation of PCWP; and (4) practices of making and producing PCWP.
There is a significant lack of diversity within the teaching population nationwide that reflects historical, political, and institutional racialized inequality. In the context of physical education, ethnic minority teachers often report feeling ‘different,’ marginalized, and struggle to negotiate the dominant school culture they feel they do not belong to. Purpose: To explore how race and gender intersect in the lived experiences of ethnic minority female PE teachers in predominantly white schools in the United States. Methods: This study used narrative and visual research methods. Results: Participants often felt isolated and uncomfortable in their educational contexts, actively seeking out other ethnic minorities to make meaningful connections and validate their lived experiences. Discussion: The intersection of race and gender in participants’ embodied identities reflects sexist and racist systems in which white privilege is positioned as normal or universal. PE and PE teacher education programs must actively work to disrupt and destabilize these norms.
Where Chap. 4 provided a generic ‘how-to’ for the PED methodology, this chapter details the first four steps of the methodology as it was applied in the case study for this book, a system for co-located digital photo sharing called Collect Yourselves! This is not meant to be a rigid or exclusive picture of what PED must do, but rather gives the reader a story to follow. Step 1 charts they way the germ of my motivations developed into an established line of enquiry through a search of the HCI literature informed by insights into performativity and performance described in Chaps. 2 and 3. Step 2 describes the process of deciding a long list of performances that I believed could contribute to the line of enquiry and how that list was shortened and refined to the four that would be subjected to analysis. Step 3 is represented by a single, full performance analysis of one of those four performances: Third Angel’s Cape Wrath, which took place in three different versions in 2011, 2012, and 2013. The performance analyses resulted in the identification of properties of performance to be considered in the design process: self-making, heightened attention, situatedness, and the aesthetics of the event. Step 4 describes the design exploration that resulted in a map of the design space for intermedial autobiographical performance and a prototype to be performed. Steps 5 and 6 are covered in Chap. 6.
Conference Paper
Full participation in online social spaces requires the contri-bution of content in the form of text, activity, or multimedia. Decisions about whether to share a particular item and with whom can easily become complex, as users consider the potential risks or benefits of reaching various parts of their audience. As systems begin to support the sharing of large collections such as bulk-uploaded photos, these difficulties compound, and users often respond by adopting simple, sub-optimal sharing strategies. My proposed dissertation aims to model sharing decisions in order to inform systems which support nuanced decision-making at large scale.
CmyView is a research project that investigates how mobile technologies have the potential to facilitate new ways to share, experience and understand the connections that people have with places. The aim of the project is to theorise and develop a tool and a methodology that addresses the reception of architecture and the built environment using mobile digital technologies that harness ubiquitous everyday practices, such as photography and walking. While CmyView is primarily focused on evidencing the reception of places, this chapter argues that these activities can also make a contribution to the core pedagogy of architectural education, the design studio. This chapter presents findings of an initial pilot study with four students at an Australian university that demonstrates how CmyView offers a valuable contribution to the educational experience in the design studio.
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Goffman (1956,1973) has described how people negotiate and validate identities in face-to-face encounters and how people establish 'frames' within which to evaluate the meaning of encounters. These ideas have been influential in how sociologists and psychologists see person-to-person encounters. Kendon (1988) gives a useful summary of Goffman's views on social interaction. Electronic communication (EC) has established a new range of frames of interaction with a developing etiquette. Although apparently more limited and less rich than interactions in which the participants are physically present, it also provides new problems and new opportunities in the presentation of self. There have been exciting discussions about the possible nature of 'electronic selves' (for instance Stone, 1991). This paper is a basic exploration of how the presentation of self is actually taking place in a technically limited, but rapidly spreading, aspect of EC: personal homepages on the World Wide Web. Between the 50s and the early 80s, Erving Goffman worked to describe the structure of face-to-face interaction and to account for how that structure was involved in the interactive tasks of everyday life. He developed a series of concepts which are useful in describing and understanding interaction, and also showed how the physical nature of interaction settings is involved in people's interactions.
Collaboration has long been of considerable interest to both designers and researchers in the CHI and CSCW communities. This paper contributes to this discussion by proposing the concept of network communities as a new genre of collaboration for this discussion. Network communities are robust and persistent communities based on a sense of locality that spans both the virtual and physical worlds of their users. They are a technosocial construct that requires understanding of both the technology and the sociality embodying them. We consider several familiar systems as well as historical antecedents to describe the affordances these systems offer their community of users. Based on our own experience as designers, users and researchers of a variety of network communities, we extend this initial design space along three dimensions: the boundary negotiations between real and virtual worlds, support for social rhythms and the emergence and development of community. Finally we offer implications for designers, researchers and community members based on our findings.
This chapter attempts to understand some of the social and organization problems that confront online environmental communication in two areas: credibility of content, and the design and management of multidisciplinary systems. The approach is to see both these areas as knowledge work, where trust and credibility are critical. Using the perspective of science studies, emphasizing the situated nature of knowledge, the importance of practice, and differences across epistemic cultures, we suggest that it is useful to see some of the stresses faced in online environmental systems as resulting from the opening of black boxes and questioning of practices and assumptions that come from crossing boundaries. In the end, crossing boundaries requires a willingness to endure and work through the discomfort of meeting different knowledges, and not knowing.