Post-Capitalist HCI

The design, development and deployment of new technology is a form of intervention on the social, psychological and physical world. Whether explicitly intended or not, all digital technology is designed to support some vision of how work, leisure, education, healthcare, and so on, is organised in the future. For example, most efforts to make commercial systems more usable, efficient and pleasurable, are ultimately about the vision of increased profits as part of a capitalist society.

This workshop will bring together researchers, designers and practitioners to explore an alternative, post-capitalist, “grand vision” for HCI, asking what kind of futures the community sees itself as working towards. Are the futures we are building towards any different from those envisioned by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, which are typically neoliberal, absent of strict labour laws, licensing fees, tax declarations and the necessity to deal with government bureaucracy?

Grand Visions

Recently, Reeves et al. identify two types of future envisioning; 1) those based on extrapolation or “projection” from the current state, where our vision of the future is based on detailed knowledge of the past, and 2) grand visions that serve as waypoints for us to work towards. Reeves et al., conclude that envisioning in Ubicomp and HCI research is almost entirely of the “projection” variety, and there are few grand visions presented.

With this workshop, “by announcing one or more grand visions of the future, we seek to direct present actions in such a way as to make it come to pass”. We are specifically interested in exploring grand visions of post-capitalist computing, in explicit contrast to what we see as a prevailing implicit vision of neoliberalism in HCI. This workshop will:

  • Explore the above assertion that the mainstream HCI community is oriented around neoliberal capitalist visions of a hi-tech future.

  • Serve as an opportunity to present alternative world visions, towards which HCI researchers can orient their work.

  • Facilitate the establishment of a supportive community of researchers, whose work is already (explicitly or implicitly) anti- or post-capitalist.

  • Support new and existing scholars in considering the implicit values of research in HCI.

Workshop Proposal

The full version of the workshop proposal is available here: [PDF]