Social Media as a Design and Research Site in HCI: Mapping Out Opportunities and Envisioning Future Uses A CHI 2021 Workshop / May 15-16, 2021

Social media is rife with raw instances of people's behaviors, beliefs, actions, and feelings. In this workshop, we will explore the emergent methodological space of social media based HCI design and research. We will gather scholars and practitioners from different areas within HCI to discuss how social media platforms might support their practice. Through a fireside chat with an industry folk from Snap, short presentations, open discussions, and design-led activities, we will examine the affordances of existing social media platforms and speculate future developments in this methodological space. The outcome of the workshop will be an interactive data visualization of existing social media platforms, their main characteristics, and their affordances for HCI design and research. Overall, we will begin to characterize the methodological space of social media based HCI design and research, setting the foundation for future developments in this space.

Mar 2 (update) - Dear potential delegates, please note the workshop organisers are in discussion with the overall workshops chairs (who are discussing with the Accessibility Chairs and the General Chairs) for ACM CHI 2021. Please note the current set of technologies listed should not be a barrier to your participation.

Workshop Activities

The aim of the workshop is to characterize the emerging space of social media based HCI methods and best practices. Through presentations, discussions, and design-led activities we will examine existing social media sites and discuss their affordances when it comes to doing HCI research and design. The end goal will be to create an interactive visual map of the current state of the art of social media platforms, clustered according to different parameters such as: the kinds of design/research practices they afford, the media forms they privilege, the historical context of their launch, the type of content users often post in them, the populations that use them… We will also use this characterization of the space of social media based HCI methods to push its boundaries, discussing future uses and best practices. Overall, our aim will be to discuss how can we make use of the possibilities existing social media present us with, and what new platforms or functionalities we might want to develop to better support our design and research work. To inform the choice of variables we look at during the workshop, we will build our own experience of using social media for design and research purposes in our own work. We will also invite prospective participants to submit a position paper describing their own practices and use that information to feed our list of analysis items for examining social media platforms.

Day 1 (Saturday May 15)

*Starting at 1 pm JST / 6 am CET / 9 pm PDT (a day before)

1 - 1.10 pm JST / Introduction: Presentation of workshop aims and agenda.

1.10 - 2 pm JST / Fireside chat with Andrés Monroy-Hernandez, followed by moderated Q&A.

2 - 3 pm / Participant presentations: We will begin with quick round of presentations by everyone. Then, each participant who submitted a position paper will have 4 minutes to share their work.

3 - 3.15 pm / Break.

3.15 - 3.45 pm / Foraging social media platforms: We will divide participants in breakout rooms of 4 people. We will invite them to look for examples of existing social media platforms of all kinds, and to create digital cards on a Miro board for each platform they find. The aim will be to create an as comprehensive list as possible of social media platforms.

3.45 - 4 pm / Populating the map: Back in the main Zoom room, groups will share the social media platforms they found and post the corresponding cards on a shared Miro board.

*Between the day 1 and day 2 sections, participants will be invited to (voluntarily) continue to find and experiment with social media platforms, and to reflect their explorations on the emergent Miro map.

Day 2 (Sunday May 16)

*Starting at 1 pm JST / 6 am CET / 9 pm PDT (a day before)

1 - 1.15 pm JST / Familiarizing with the map: Participants will be given time to explore the emerging map of social media platforms and informally ask each other questions about the platforms they contributed.

1.15 - 2.45 pm / Experimenting with social media platforms: In breakout rooms of 4 participants, we will experiment with social media platforms to explore in which ways they can support HCI design & research. Participants will be encouraged to use the fact that they are participating remotely to their advantage, e.g. to take time to move around their homes, workplaces, or even neighborhoods if they feel that that will be the best way to explore the potential of a particular social media platform.

2.45 - 3 pm / Break.

3 - 3.30 pm / Presentations: Groups will share their analyses of social media platforms (3-5 minutes per group, depending on the number of groups).

3.30 - 3.50 pm / Discussion: We will cluster the social media platforms on the emerging map by affinity, based on the parameters used in the analysis. Taking the map as a starting point, we will discuss the current state of social media-based design and research. We will also speculate on future directions in this methodological space. We will ask ourselves questions such as: Are we making use of the full potential of current social media for research and design? What might be design/research needs that are not covered by current platforms? What should be the next moves in social media-based methods research?

3.50 - 4 pm / Future work: We will propose our agenda for moving forward with this line of research, and invite participants to join and propose new interventions.

4 pm / Farewell.

Post-Workshop Plans

After the workshop, we will consolidate the mapping of social media platforms and their design/research affordances into an interactive data visualization. The map will feature the available social media platforms clustered by its characteristics, and by ways in which they could support HCI practice. The organizers have prior experience developing these kinds of interactive data visualizations, e.g. the HFI Lit Review app or RecipeScape. We will make this visualization available to the HCI community on a website. We will also write an Interactions article to share the visualization and the associated reflections, to begin to characterize the methodological space of social media based HCI design and research. We will invite all workshop participants to be co-authors of this article.

Potentially, depending on the participants’ interest, we will consider working towards opening a journal special issue call about the methodological space of social media based HCI design and research. The aim of the special issue will be to gather a number of case studies that serve as detailed accounts of the breadth of use cases, and potential uses of social media, to support HCI practice. Workshop participants will be invited to submit a paper describing their social media based practices and/or reflecting on the challenges and opportunities that social media affords in HCI design and research. Finally, since we will also use the workshop as an opportunity to network and bring together researchers interested in a similar methodological space, we are hopeful that we will collectively envision new spaces for extended academic conversations about this topic. We see this workshop as a first attempt at exploring the full breadth of a rather new methodological space, and we hope that it will lead to many follow-up conversations.


Ferran Altarriba Bertran is a PhD candidate in the Social and Emotional Technology Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research explores how future everyday-use technologies could support increasingly playful relationships with one another, and how situated co-design design methods could be leveraged to develop them. ferranaltarriba.com

Soomin Kim is a PhD candidate in the Communication department at Seoul National University, working in the Human-Computer Interaction & Design Lab. Her research on Human–Computer Interaction (HCI) and User Experience (UX) focuses on human–AI interactions, intersecting UX/HCI perspective in AI/ML expanded to meaningful and synergistic results in both communities. k-soomin.github.io

Minsuk Chang is a research scientist at Naver AI Lab. His research explores machine learning and human computation techniques for building interactive representations of naturally crowdsourced knowledge on the internet. He also builds novel interfaces for augmenting people’s ability to access context-rich information using the computational representations building blocks in designing. minsukchang.com

Ella Dagan is a doctoral student in Computational Media at the University of California Santa Cruz, working in the Social Emotional Technology Lab. Ella's research focus is on unpacking social affordances of future technology designs and their potential to impact the social experience. Ella designs and creates interactive artifacts and experiences at the intersection of play, fashion, technology, social psychology, storytelling, remembrance, and wonder. elladagan.com

Jared Duval

Jared Duval is a PhD candidate in the Computational Media department at University of California Santa Cruz. He works in the ASSIST Lab and the Social Emotional Technology Lab. Jared designs and researches playful technology with and for people with disabilities. He has used TikTok to access populations of people with disabilities being playful to inspire novel technology designs. Jareduval.com

Katherine Isbister is a professor of Computational Media at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she directs the Social Emotional Technology Lab and the Center for Computational Experience. Isbister’s research focuses on broadening the social and emotional palette of technology, using a research-through-design process to create and evaluate prototypes of possible future experiences. katherineinterface.com

Laia Turmo Vidal is an Interaction Design PhD Candidate at Uppsala University, Sweden. In her research, she studies and designs technology to support movement teaching and learning, both in physical and online environments. Her research interests include technology design for health and wellbeing, embodied design methods, co-operative social computing, and play. laiaturmovidal.com


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