Technology on the Trail 2017 Workshop

Thursday March 2nd – Friday March 3rd

Agenda | Talk Details | Work Sessions | Register

Invited Guests: Allison Druin, Alan Dix, Ellie Harmon, Norman Su

About the Workshop

The second in the Center for HCI’s “What Comes After CHI” workshop series focuses on “Technology on the Trail”, an examination of ways that technology is (and isn’t) used when on hiking and outdoor adventures. These include both intentional ways–such as undertaking scientific studies, supporting the environment, and blogging about experiences–as well as more unintentional ways–such as automatically recording location, and tracking steps, altitude, and health data. The workshop will examine the challenges of bringing technology onto the trail and reflect on ways to understand, design, and deploy appropriate technological solutions moving forward.

An evolving list of topics of the 2017 workshop include:

  • Preparation for a hiking experience is always important, with increasing need to determine how to include or detach from technologies that are important to one’s life off the trail. In addition to concerns about power and connectivity, there is a need to consider one’s planned and expected relationship with technology outside of one’s typical environment.
  • Experience crafting, both with and without technology, deserves consideration as it is important to consider how people want their experiences to be influenced by the technology that they bring with them. Few people would want the regular interruptions experienced in the home or workplace when surrounded by computers, mobile phones, and smartwatches–but it is worth considering how much people want to stay aware and connected through their technologies when hiking.
  • Communities that evolve on the trail, and connections to people outside the trail, are important to hikers. Many people hike with groups like scouting and 4-H, and many have a specific scientific or environmental mission. Yet others hike largely on their own, occasionally connecting with others along the trail and touching base with friends back home.
  • Science has led the way in bringing technology into the wild, and it is important to consider the successes and failures that have occurred, as well as opportunities for hikers on the trail to advance science.
  • Reflection on trail experiences is important for any hiker, and technology plays an increasing role in collecting, aggregating, and presenting both intentional and unintentional data.  The data can include pictures, blog entries, maps, step counts, health and wellness data, EEG data, and much more. We will reflect on experiences from hikers who have sought to meld with technology, and we will speculate on how emerging technologies can integrate with the hiking experience.

The workshop will be heavily hands-on, with lots of opportunities to contribute and interact among colleagues. A small number of invited speakers will present forward-looking visions on these themes based on their own experiences, but the primary focus of the workshop will be on moving forward ideas, making plans for the future, and assigning names to post-workshop tasks that are identified. Don’t plan to attend if you don’t want to work!

The goal of the “What Comes After CHI” workshops is to understand what we are doing, what we could do differently, and when we should not make decisions and exert influence by ourselves. The ambitious objective of these workshops is to shift our fields’ thinking about design and research in order to encourage the creation of technologies that promote values and practices that respond to the challenges of the next ten years and beyond–with this site serving as a repository for the 2017 ideas.