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Crafting and Tasting Issues in Everyday Human-Food Interactions

Authors:

Abstract

From cooking and growing to shopping and dining, digital technology has become a frequent companion in our everyday food practices. Smart food technologies such as online diet personalization services and AI-based kitchenware offer promises of better data-driven food futures. Yet, human-food automation presents certain risks, both to end consumers and food cultures at large. This one-day workshop aims to question emerging food-tech trends and explore issues through creative food-tech crafting and performative dining activities. We will craft, taste, and debate edible prototypes reflecting on diverse socio-political issues in contemporary food-tech innovation. We posit everyday human-food practices as a relatable context to discuss broader societal issues underlying the growing role of technology and data in commonplace human activities. The workshop aims to gather an interdisciplinary group of researchers and practitioners keen on exploring the diverse roles and potential futures of technology design in everyday life.
Crafting and Tasting Issues in
Everyday Human-Food Interactions
Abstract
From cooking and growing to shopping and dining,
digital technology has become a frequent companion in
our everyday food practices. Smart food technologies
such as online diet personalization services and AI-
based kitchenware offer promises of better data-driven
food futures. Yet, human-food automation presents
certain risks, both to end consumers and food cultures
at large. This one-day workshop aims to question
emerging food-tech trends and explore issues through
creative food-tech crafting and performative dining
activities. We will craft, taste, and debate edible
prototypes reflecting on diverse socio-political issues in
contemporary food-tech innovation. We posit everyday
human-food practices as a relatable context to discuss
broader societal issues underlying the growing role of
technology and data in commonplace human activities.
The workshop aims to gather an interdisciplinary group
of researchers and practitioners keen on exploring the
diverse roles and potential futures of technology design
in everyday life.
Author Keywords
Human-food interactions; food technology design,
everyday design; food crafting
CSS Concepts
• Human-centered computing~HCI theory, concepts
and models
Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for
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not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies
bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for third-
party components of this work must be honored. For all other uses, contact
the Owner/Author.
DIS '19 Companion, June 2328, 2019, San Diego, CA, USA
© 2019 Copyright is held by the owner/author(s).
ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-6270-2/19/06.
https://doi.org/10.1145/3301019.3319994
Markéta Dolejšová
University of Jan Evangelista
Purkyne
Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic
marketa.dolejsova@gmail.com
Ferran Altarriba Bertran
Social and Emotional Techology
Lab - UC Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA, USA
ferranaltarriba@gmail.com
Hilary Davis
Swinburne University of
Technology & La Trobe University,
Melbourne, Australia
hdavis@swin.edu.au
Danielle Wilde
University of Southern Denmark
Kolding, DK
wilde@sdu.dk
Introduction
Recent years have seen an increase in digital
technologies directed at various aspects of human-food
interaction [1]. Mobile applications enabling users to
share food and redirect food waste; online platforms for
quantified diet personalization; smart kitchenware
replacing mundane kitchen tasks and decision-making
with AI. These are just a few examples of technology
products designed to automate and quantify everyday
food practices. Wrapped in techno-optimism, such
technologies are often presented as solutions for
diverse food problems: from everyday hassles with
cooking, shopping, and dieting to systemic issues of
malnutrition and unsustainable food production.
Despite the promises of better data-driven food
practices, such techno-solutionism may cause negative
changes to social food traditions as well as to individual
human-food relationships [6]. Although these issues
have been identified, they received only peripheral
attention in human-food interaction literature. Except
for a handful of critical works, the majority of existing
research is solution-oriented and highlights the
innovative potential of the human-food-tech interplay
[1][5]. We propose that there is a need to go beyond
such food techno-solutionism and embrace reflective
approaches to human-food interaction research.
Motivation and Goals
This one-day workshop will explore issues surrounding
food-tech optimism and the predominance of solutionist
approaches, through creative food crafting and
performative dining activities. Using various food and
technology ingredients, we will craft, cook, and taste
edible prototypes as a materially engaged way to
reflect on socio-political issues in contemporary food-
tech innovation. Throughout, we will focus not only on
what food-tech design is but also on what food-tech
design does in the everyday-life context. The main
objective of the workshop is to engage in down-to-
earth human-food interactions, to nurture critical
debate addressing food-tech design issues. While
addressing food-tech as a primary theme, the
workshop also aims to explore the potential of
performative food crafting as a relatable context to
discuss broader societal issues underlying everyday-life
automation and datafication. We understand food
practices as familiar events that provide an ideal
background to discuss technology design for everyday
use. The workshop will bring together an
interdisciplinary group of designers, artists,
practitioners, and thinkers keen on exploring the
diverse roles of technology design in everyday food
practices. Participants need not be food-tech experts
given the commonplace everyday presence of food, we
hope the workshop themes are widely relatable. The
organizers have diverse theoretical and experiential
backgrounds in food-tech design and research, which
will help guide the workshop activities.
Workshop Themes
The workshop will reflect on three primary themes:
automation of human-food relationships; social food
practices and traditions; and food as a medium for
critical engagement. The first two address food-tech
issues directly, the third uses food-tech as a context:
1) Automation of Human-Food Relationships
The automation of food practices extends everyday
food experiences with new forms of convenience. Such
automation implies a growing reliance on technology
over culinary common sense. For example, smart
kitchenware designed to facilitate mundane kitchen
practices on the users’ behalf, only allowing
participation remotely via an app, expects users to sit
back and relax while the technology does the job. This
diminution of consumers’ active involvement in food
preparation contributes to a “human-food
disembodiment” [7] and a loss of responsibility for
personal food choices.
2) Social Food Practices and Traditions
Some authors suggest that technology can support
enjoyable commensality experiences [3], whereas
others highlight its negative impact on socialisation
around food [7]. For example, Bodega is an AI-driven
pantry designed to replace traditional bodega stores
and remove the hassle of grocery shopping. The pantry
can be fully operated by an app, removing the need to
engage with other people while shopping. The idea of
‘unmanned bodegas’ has been widely criticized for
ignoring the traditional function of bodega stores as
neighbourhood joints for everyday social interactions
[8]. Systems such as Bodega also limit opportunities
for teaching children about the social norms of
selecting, shopping for, and purchasing groceries.
3) Food as a Medium for Critical Engagement with
Everyday-Life Automation
Many issues related to human-food-technology
interaction transcend the scope of food realms, to
impact the larger space of everyday technology design.
Food has a tendency to transform itself into politically
and ethically charged situations in our everyday life.
We do not cook and eat in isolation; rather, we nurture
social relationships, express our personal worldviews,
even define certain politics through the food choices we
make. When we look at food practices and new
technology rituals around that, food present an ideal
medium to address socio-political implications of
‘everyday’ technology design in general. We claim, for
instance, that a critical inquiry into the social impacts of
AI-driven kitchenware can yield important insights into
the social aspects of AI-driven automation in general.
Workshop Activities: Crafting and Tasting
Food-Tech Prototypes
The workshop will involve a hands-on food crafting
session where participants and organizers (up to 14
people) collectively and individually craft food-tech
prototypes as a way to reflect on our three themes. The
prototypes will take the form of cooked and raw dishes,
fermented jars, planted seeds, conceptual recipes, and
other reflective food artifacts feasible. We will work in
small groups of 2-3 people and use a range of food and
technology materials provided by the organizers (raw
edibles, ferments and microbial starter cultures, spices,
seeds, soil samples, digital diet trackers, 3D food
printers, food apps, etc.). The collective hands-on
practices of chopping, boiling, pickling, and planting, as
well as measuring, tracking, quantifying, and uploading
will provide occasion to discuss timely food-tech issues.
Each participant will be asked to bring a food-related
item as a boundary object, embodying a food-tech
issue that is of personal concern. These boundary
objects can be anything from a ‘controversial’ food
product purchased in a supermarket to a text/photo
documentation of a personal food-tech experience.
Organizers will also bring boundary food-tech objects,
including a dish prepared in the smart oven June1
contrasted with a homemade fermented pickle jar,
personal logs from the food sharing app Share Food2,
personalized diet plans obtained via the DNA
sequencing service Habit3, and the algorithmic recipe
recommender OpenSauce4. We will also use the HFI Lit
Workshop Schedule
9-10am: Introductions
10-10:30am: Coffee break
10:30am-12pm: Food-tech
prototyping starts
12-1:30pm: HFI at
lunchtime
1:30-4pm: Food-tech
prototyping continues
4-5pm: Food-tech
degustation
5-5:30pm: Conclusions &
plans for the future
5:30pm-late: Conventional
dinner & drinks
Review App5 [1] to diffractively read human-food
interaction literature according to issues that arise at
the workshop, such as the multiplicity of roles of
technology in human life and the balance between
automation and individual empowerment. During the
hands-on activities, each group documents their
prototype through a short hand-drawn / written poster.
The hands-on session will culminate with a degustation
where we present and taste prototypes as a prompt for
a discussion about everyday food and life automation.
The aim is to unpack the impact of the growing
presence of digital food technology on everyday food
practices; how to understand agency for responsible
food interactions in the age of human-food automation;
how to leverage traditional food knowledge to develop
culturally robust food-tech design; how to harness
everyday food-tech knowledge to inform sensitive,
socially just design for everyday life. We will conclude
the workshop with a proposal for future collaborative
events and publications in the food-tech area. We have
organized similar participatory food events before
[4][5][6][9] and are confident of the feasibility of the
proposed workshop schedule and activities.
References
[1] Ferran Altarriba Bertran, Samvid Jhaveri, Rosa
Lutz, Katherine Isbister, and Danielle Wilde. 2019.
Making Sense of Human-Food Interaction. In CHI
Conference on Human Factors in Computing
Systems Proceedings (CHI 2019).
[2] Jaz Hee-Jeong Choi, Conor Linehan, Rob Comber,
and John Mccarthy. 2012. Food for thought:
designing for critical reflection on food practices.
In 2012 ACM Conference Companion Publication
on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS '12).
[3] Hilary Davis, Hasan Shahid Ferdous, and Frank
Vetere. 2017. 'Table Manners': Children's Use of
Mobile Technologies in Family-friendly
Restaurants. In Extended Abstracts of the 2017
Conference on Human Factors in Computing
Systems (CHI EA '17).
[4] Hilary Davis, Jeni Paay, Jesper Kjeldskov, and
Markéta Dolejšová. 2018. On and off the table: re-
imagining food and wine interactions. In
Proceedings of the Proceedings of the 30th
Australian Conference on Computer-Human
Interaction (OzCHI’18).
[5] Markéta Dolejšová. 2018. Edible Speculations:
Designing for Human-Food Interaction. Doctoral
dissertation, National University of Singapore.
http://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/1503
71
[6] Markéta Dolejšová, Rohit Ashok Khot, Hilary
Davis, Hasan Shahid Ferdous, and Andrew
Quitmeyer. 2018. Designing Recipes for Digital
Food Futures. In Extended Abstracts of the 2018
Conference on Human Factors in Computing
Systems (CHI EA '18).
[7] Christopher Miles and Nancy Smith. 2015. What
Grows in Silicon Valley. The Ecopolitics of
Consumption: The Food Trade 119.
[8] O'Brien, Sarah A. 2017. Startup Bodega
apologizes for upsetting everyone. In CNN
Business.
[9] Erica Vannucci, Ferran Altarriba, Justin Marshall,
and Danielle Wilde. 2018. Handmaking Food
Ideals: Crafting the Design of Future Food-related
Technologies. In 2018 ACM Conference Companion
Publication on Designing Interactive
Systems (DIS'18)
Food-Tech Props
(Boundary Objects)
1June Oven:
http://juneoven.com
2Share Food:
http://www.sharefood.sg/
3Habit:
http://habit.com
4OpenSauce:
http://opensauce.cz
5HFI Lit Review App:
http://www2.ucsc.edu/hfi
... Issues with malnutrition and environmental unsustainability in food systems motivate a growing sector of food-technology designers and entrepreneurs aiming to solve food problems through technological innovation (CBInsights, 2018). Digital technologies such as AI-based kitchenware, online diet personalization services, or various smart food apps carry a promise of better food futures but they also raise some concerns (Dolejšová et al., 2019;Lupton, 2017;Norton et al., 2017). What are the implications of food-technologies for social rituals and cultural traditions that typically emerge around food? ...
... Food Studies, as the flagship in the area of food-related research, has shown only a peripheral interest in food-tech innovation issues (Lupton, 2017). A relevant discussion has been developing in Human-Food Interaction (HFI), an emerging field gathering food-oriented authors across disciplines that originated in Human-Computer Interaction (Altarriba Bertran et al., 2019). A recent literature review of HFI scholarship (ibid) shows that authors in the field have, to a large extent, embraced techno-centric perspectives oriented to the design of solutions. ...
... This is not to say that we should avoid any attempts to innovate food systems through technology, but that any of such attempts need to be mindful of social food contexts and carefully consider the diverse impacts that innovation may have on food cultures. HFI scholarship, a prime venue to discuss food-tech innovation, has shown only a minor interest in these issues and the ambivalent socio-economic role of technology innovation in food cultures remains largely unexplored (Altarriba Bertran et al., 2019). The Edible Speculations project enters this space and explores the opportunities and limits of food-tech innovation through the critical lens of speculative design. ...
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Startup Bodega apologizes for upsetting everyone
  • A O'brien Sarah
O'Brien, Sarah A. 2017. Startup Bodega apologizes for upsetting everyone. In CNN Business.
What Grows in Silicon Valley. The Ecopolitics of Consumption: The Food Trade 119. Christopher Miles and Nancy Smith. 2015. What Grows in Silicon Valley. The Ecopolitics of Consumption: The Food Trade 119
  • Christopher Miles
  • Nancy Smith
Christopher Miles and Nancy Smith. 2015. What Grows in Silicon Valley. The Ecopolitics of Consumption: The Food Trade 119.