Themes & Agenda

The CSCW community along with Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Science and Technology Studies (STS) have long been invested in understanding values inherent in technology. Scholars across the fields widely recognize that CSCW artifacts do in fact have politics. The politics are not only shaped by artifacts, but by power relations between researchers and communities as well as wider public understandings of technology design. In this workshop, we will build upon prior work, and further seek to generate dialogue and strategies for how to examine the grassroots politics of collaboration in our artifacts.

Our single day workshop is scheduled for Sunday, November 10. It will have four sessions—themes and activities for each session is described in what follows. For more details, see our conference submission.

Session I: Community-Building Exercise (9:00AM-10:15AM)

We will begin with a community-building exercise inspired by grassroots traditions. This will also serve as our mutual introductions. This exercise will be focused on situating participants as individuals beyond the academy—what is a community that we belong to in life? What communities do participants feel accountable to, and how does that inform their CSCW work? As recent work in HCI also show us that sometimes we ourselves are affected by technologies we design—we are not always designing for an “other”. Therefore, in this phase, participants will be also encouraged to share their lived experiences with technological artifacts and practices they have designed and/or have been personally affected by. Situating ourselves in our personal/political histories, workshop participants will collectively develop some community agreements that will form the grounds for the remaining conversation. Toward this, we will discuss: what would make us feel safe sharing vulnerabilities, challenging understandings, and intimate histories? Participants can describe concerns, fears, and hopes to generate agreements on how the workshop can be made safer.

(30 minutes break, coffee and snacks available)

Session II: Presentation of Examples (10:45AM-12PM)

Following the grounding exercise, three to five individuals will be invited to give short (no more than ten minutes) presentations about their work, drawn from their workshop papers. Through this, we aim to gather some real-world examples of grassroots politics of collaboration and understand the role CSCW technologies play in practicing such politics.

(Lunch break)

Session III: Discussion on Current and Future Strategies (1:30PM-3:30PM)

Next, we will break into small groups each with a facilitator charged with summarizing and reporting back to the larger group. The group discussion will address key topics of value-sensitive design practices and design justice with a grassroots lens. Each group will talk about three broad categories: ‘users’, values, and community accountability.

  • Users: With a critical lens on design processes we ask: Who are the “imagined ideal users” of CSCW technologies (both artifacts and practices) we use/design? Who are the people using these tools in reality, and what values do they embody? What is the nature of involvement of these actual users in the design process? How do these choices (of who we design for/with) support/hinder grassroots politics of collaboration?
  • Values: Toward unpacking the value question of technology, we ask: what are some sociopolitical values CSCW technologies (that we use/design) embody, and what values do they stand against? What are our methods of understanding these values we design for/with? How do these choices (of designing for/with/against certain values) support/hinder the grassroots politics of collaboration? How do grass- roots movement values challenge us to reimagine our methods, infrastructures, and institutions for design- ing, building, and maintaining CSCW technologies?
  • Community accountability: A key element of grassroots movement culture is community accountability— holding each other accountable for our actions. CSCW and its culture of technology-building can benefit from concrete strategies of community accountability—one that encourages the people we design for/with to hold us accountable for the artifacts and practices we create. The discussions in this session will be in light of the community building exercise we do in the beginning. Toward this, we shall discuss: beyond CSCW, what is a community that is holding the technologies we create accountable to the values they promote? Are there concrete strategies for staying accountable to these communities for how values may reproduce from the CSCW technologies we use/design?

(30 minutes break, coffee and snacks available)

Session IV: Synthesis and Commitment to Action (4:00PM-5PM)

In the final session, the larger group will re-convene to reflect on the entire day. Following grassroots tradition, our last step is to ask each attendee for a commitment to action. We will plan future steps for advancing these commitments in the CSCW field, which may include envisioning possible future events, working toward internal policy changes (e.g. changes to the ACM ethics code), submitting a reflection on the workshop in venues such as ACM Interactions, and more personal commitments to carry these values through our future work.