Archive for November 2006

[Previous message][Next message][Back to index]

[ecrea] The Good, The Bad And The Unexpected - The user and the future of information and communication technologies

Thu Nov 09 19:25:07 GMT 2006

The user and the future of information and communication technologies

A transdisciplinary conference organised by COST Action 298

Institute of the Information Society, Moscow, Russian Federation
23rd-25th May 2007


The main objective of the conference is to create 
new knowledge about users' creativity and 
facilitate their empowerment in a broadband 
information society. This knowledge is crucial in 
order to strengthen the European Research Area. 
Moreover, this requires an examination of the 
factors that can both constrain and enhance 
users' abilities to shape and use ICTs.

 From our perspective, the 'broadband society' 
refers to a possible, but not inevitable, 
substantial transformation of our experience of 
telecommunications based on these technologies 
allowing information and communication 
technologies to be used everywhere, all the time 
and by everybody. Given the widespread 
aspirations of Governments and companies to 
achieve this goal, the extent to which any such 
transformation has occurred needs, of course, to 
be evaluated in a balanced manner.

Broadband technologies have resulted mainly from 
technological and institutional imperatives. To 
what extent have potential users managed to find 
ways in which such technologies can be useful, 
worthwhile and attractive? We certainly know from 
previous research this can require those users to 
be creative in terms of fitting ICTs into their 
activities or using them to find solutions to the 
everyday problems that they already encounter. 
But how much is being demanded of those users, 
what considerations have a bearing upon whether 
these technologies actually find a place in their 
lives and what new issues, of indeed problems, 
can these ICTs themselves create, especially if 
they really are 'disruptive technologies'? 
Ultimately, we also need to acknowledge that 
users may well decide that their existing 
solutions suffice, in which case these new 
technological options may find only a modest 
place in their lives. Indeed, they may even be 
resisted or ignored.  Whatever strategies users 
employ for assessing and dealing with such 
innovations, we need to learn more about these 
social processes, including strategies for 
dealing with the up and coming generation of new 
information and communication products and 
services. Only by so doing can we hope to empower 
them further in their relationships to technology 
and through this hope to increase the quality of their lives.

In this conference, the organisers - COST Action 
298 - invite technology and product developers, 
designers, social scientists, policy makers, 
community representatives and others who are 
interested in the conference topics, to join our 
attempt to develop this discussion on a common, 
shared and transdisciplinary ground. We ask participants to

1) strive to present their topic from a 
human-centric point of view as opposed to a 
technology-, product- or business-centric one, and to

2) present their topic in a language that 
attempts to transcend disciplinary boundaries, a 
language that non-experts can also understand, and to

3) not only report on their work, but also to 
engage in the conference debate which aims to 
develop ways to understand the interests of 
people and society, to evaluate developments 
against such an evolving understanding, and to 
chart interesting and desirable future directions.

The emphasis of this event will be on networking 
and promoting a dialogue with colleagues from 
around Europe and the rest of the world.

We look forward to seeing you in Moscow for a 
conference designed to be exciting, thought-provoking and challenging.


This conference is organised by the COST 298 
network 'Participation in the Broadband Society', 
the successor to COST actions 269 and 248.  The 
conference is a follow up to the conference The 
Good, the Bad and the Irrelevant held in Helsinki 
in September 2003. COST 298 is an action in the 
domain 'Information and Communication 
Technologies' of COST, an intergovernmental 
framework for European Co-operation in the field 
of Scientific and Technical Research. In COST 298 
European scientists from telecommunication 
research departments, universities and operators 
together with independent consultants collaborate 
in cross-disciplinary groups to analyse the 
social dimensions of people's relationships to 
information and communication technologies.  More 
information is available on our website at


A number of communities have an interest in and 
perspectives on the relationship between people 
and ICTs. These include industry, academia, 
designers, policy makers and other institutions. 
The goal of this conference is to encourage and 
facilitate a dialogue between these communities 
in order to promote transdisciplinary insights 
that can enhance the process by which these technologies are shaped.

The conference aims:
1.      To instigate and support dialogues:
·       Between social scientists, designers, 
engineers, policy-makers and technology and service providers.
·       Between the different disciplinary 
approaches analysing the social and cultural 
dimensions of ICTs (covering telecommunications, computing and mass media).
2.      To explore the state of the art of our 
knowledge and the results of current research, at 
the same time indicating the implications of this 
for those who are planning and shaping technologies and services.
3.      To confront the reality of today with the 
possibilities of the future, and to debate the 
meaning of reported and anticipated developments 
for the everyday life in an increasingly globalised society.

The conference will be organised around the following four themes or strands:

1. Users as innovators

Within the changing techno-economic paradigm, the 
user is increasingly seen as the origin of 
innovation. This refers to strategic roles like 
'lead users' or 'pro-am' in technology design. At 
the same time powerful Web 2.0 tools (vlogging, 
social software, folksonomies, etc) enable an 
affluence of 'user generated content' (UGC) based 
on the 'networked individualism' of people. 
However the user as innovator also refers to more 
tactical roles. Users of ICTs have often used 
technologies in very creative, sometimes 
unanticipated, ways. This refers to ways in which 
ICTs either enable or constrain users' ability to 
develop innovatory social practices, linked to 
technology design and content creation. What 
factors lead to creativity in the use of ICTs? In 
addition, how people make choices is a key issue. 
While choice behaviour asks for active informed 
decision-making, people in practice are often not 
interested in making such active choices. 
Therefore, what enablers and constraints play a 
role in this process? How useful are theoretical 
frameworks in explaining such choices?

This strand will look at patterns of behaviour 
during diffusion, users' innovation, technology 
design, the ways users make choices to use or not 
use broadband technology, taking note of the fact 
that at a certain moment in time any innovation 
is simply less 'innovative'. When, if ever, will 
broadband become the 'norm' and does it really 
matter for users? How long does it take before an 
innovation is regarded as being domesticated and 
what does this mean in practice? Finally we also 
welcome contributions on methodological 
innovation for investigating users as strategic 
and tactical innovators. This includes methods 
that enable understanding and interpretation of 
users' creativity in everyday life, like 
ethnography, persona development or research in living lab settings.

2. Humans as eActors

This strand welcomes theoretical, methodological 
and empirical contributions to the following areas:

The electronic portrait of individuals as human actors
What type of electronic information do people 
deal with and how? Given that humans use, 
produce, store, disseminate and retrieve 
information, these particular processes have to 
be studied in order to understand the production 
of the electronic self and its social 
consequences. This portrait should also address 
the evolution of human self-determination, 
autonomy and reflexivity regarding more pervasive 
(or invasive) information and communication systems.

The convergence of social and technological processes around the human body
This area involves analysis and studies of the 
convergence of several social and technological 
processes around the human body. What are the 
relevant debates about this development and what 
are the social representations of the human body in a broadband society?

An anthropocentric perspective in developing 
interfaces that are user pulled rather than technology pushed
Any anthropocentric perspective requires us to 
reflect upon the end user as being main target, 
beneficiary and 'raison d'être' of ICTs, 
including the ones mentioned in visions of the broadband society.

Migrants and their social integration and 
cohesion in the European broadband space.
During the last few years there has been a lot of 
turbulance in the European scene. The European 
union was confronted with a great number of new 
members, discussions take place of how large the 
EU may or cannot be, what does 'European' mean 
when thinking about spacial and cultural 
boundaries. The French and Dutch 'no' to the 
European constitution were  for a large part the 
result of this discussion.  In the public opinion 
migrants are often looked upon as at least 
'problematic'.  ICT's could play an important 
role in the integration both politically and 
socially of migrants in their new surroundings. 
On the other hand ICTs are means to keep in touch 
with the native country or region from which they emigrated.
This area involves any theoretical and empirical 
discourses on the social and political 
integration of diasporas in their new country 
involving the use of ICTs. It also addresses the 
question of the ways in which the use of ICTs 
supports  cultural and social relations within diaspora communities.

3. The multiple cultures of the Information Society

Although there are now a limited number of 
cross-cultural comparisons of the experiences of 
ICT use, it is quite clear that there are complex 
issues involved in making sense of international 
differences, as well as differences within 
national cultures.  While we welcome papers at 
the conference that focus specifically on 
cross-cultural issues we want to encourage a 
wider engagement in this issue.  This strand 
invites people conducting national research on 
ICT adoption and use to report on that work. But 
we would like them to add what they think might 
be cultural or national influences shaping these 
developments in their country. For example, if 
studies focus on gender or age groups (such as 
youth, the elderly) we would ask researchers to 
consider how people's experiences are influenced 
by national or regional circumstances 
(educational, legal, employment, financial, time 
structures, domestic division of labour etc.) or 
particular meanings and values in that culture. 
There is a workgroup within COST 298 that is 
looking at this whole area of cross-cultural 
comparisons. We hope to build on the reflections 
from the papers in this strand and develop our 
thinking with a view to producing a coherent 
publication based on these contributions.

4. Future directions

Both the technological environment and wider 
society are evolving through a process of mutual 
interaction. Even if we accept that the results 
and acceptance of technological developments in 
society cannot be reliably predicted, it is also 
clear that vast investments are being made in the 
intentional development of technologies, 
including broadband technologies, with certain 
aims and strategies. These are inevitably based 
on certain sets of assumptions about the future. 
In fact, all such future-oriented action is based 
on some kind of a vision about the future, 
whether it is explicitly articulated or not. 
These intentions and assumptions have a great 
influence upon the whole development agenda, the 
specific development processes, and the results of these endeavours.

This strand will explore the process of this kind 
of vision-creation and aims to intentionally, and 
indeed proactively, contribute to this 
envisioning process in society. This is important 
for the way in which any information society 
develops, as well as for achieving better efficiency in technology investment


In the spirit of the conference we would 
encourage those considering submitting papers to 
reflect on three aspects. These are
(a) the basis for making evaluations of ICTs,
(b) the implications for the future design of ICTs and
(c) directions for future research.
At the stage of reviewing abstracts, reviewers 
will make suggestions towards this end. More 
information will be available later on the 
conference website at


Deadline for submission: 10th January 2007. All 
abstracts should be prepared in electronic form. 
Detailed submission directions will be available 
at Abstracts 
must be written in English and typed with single 
line spacing. No formulas, symbols, mathematical 
notation or sub/superscripts are allowed. 
Abstracts should be 300-600 words. No abstract 
fee is required. Both academics and practitioners 
are invited to submit presentations. Given the 
interdisciplinary nature of the conference, 
abstracts will be reviewed by a combination of 
members of the Steering Committee, the 
International Programme Committee and others with 
relevant expertise.  Notification of acceptance 
will be given by 28th February 2007. All 
withdrawals should be sent to the Conference Chair.


The registration fee of 250 Euro will cover 
lunches, coffee and the proceedings.
There will be a reduced fee for students coming 
from the following countries: Russian Federation, 
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, 
Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Poland, Romania, 
Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan. Student fee is 
applicable only if the student presents the paper 
herself /himself and will be 25 Euros for 
students as first authors and 50 Euros for 
students as co-authors. A prize for the best 
young researcher (under 35) will be set up. For 
faculty members or researchers from the countries 
listed above the fee will be 100 Euros.
All attendees, including speakers and session 
chairs, must register and pay the registration fee.


Visas are required to enter the Russian 
Federation for people who are not Russian 
citizens. Support to obtain these will be provided by the local organisers.


Deadline for abstract submission: 10th January 2007
Notification of the acceptance of abstracts: 28th February 2007
After this we will start the process of sending 
out official letters of invitation in order for 
participants to get visas to go to the Russian Federation
Authors' delivery of paper deadline in order to 
be included in the printed programme and the proceedings: 15th April 2007
Conference: 23rd-25th May 2007


The official language of the conference will be English.


Papers presented at the conference will be made 
available as a book of proceedings and will be posted to the COST 298 website.


The conference will be hosted by the Institute of 
the Information Society, Moscow, Russian Federation.


A comprehensive social programme is being planned.


Information about hotels and prices will be 
available soon at


Moscow plays a special role in Russia's move 
toward the Information Society. This is a city 
with the highest rate of educated people and the 
best information and communication infrastructure 
in the country. It is a major node of national 
and international telecommunication networks, and 
a center of mass communication. The broadband 
society is not a dream here but a part of 
Muscovites' everyday life. Moscow is a city where 
the overwhelming majority of national scientific, 
research and education institutions, libraries 
and information centers are concentrated, which 
could be helpful in terms of developing 
professional contacts for conference participants.

Being a capital, Moscow hosts managing structures 
of almost all major domestic and many 
international business structures, it also leads 
the list of Russian regions in terms of budget 
income and direct foreign investments - this 
makes the city the most attractive place for 
living and making business in Russia. Besides, 
Moscow is very attractive for tourists due to its 
historic (the city is 859 years old) and cultural 
heritage  incarnated in great number and variety 
of monuments, museums, theaters, etc. Old and 
modern combine here in a good way so that 
everyone can feel in the right epoch. May is the 
right time to visit Moscow thanks to the most 
pleasant weather, much blossom, a lot 
of  exhibitions and festivals. The Moscow Kremlin 
opens a magnificent view at this time, which 
makes it one of the world's wonders worth seeng for anyone.


Conference Chair: Bartolomeo Sapio, Fondazione Ugo Bordoni (Italy)

Steering Committee:
Leslie Haddon, London School of Economics (United Kingdom)
Enid Mante-Meijer, University of Utrecht (The Netherlands)
Leopoldina Fortunati, University of Udine (Italy)
Kari-Hans Kommonen, University of Art and Design Helsinki UIAH (Finland)
Tomaz Turk, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Local Organisers: Tatiana Ershova and Olga 
Vershinskaya, Institute of the Information Society (Russian Federation)


Agnes Urban, Corvinus University of Budapest (Hungary)
Boldur Barbat, Lucian Blaga University Sibiu (Romania)
Gustavo Cardoso, ISCTE (Portugal)
Vesna Dolnicar, University of Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Rita Espanha, ISCTE (Portugal)
Rosemarie Gilligan, University College Dublin (Ireland)
Pedro Gomez, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain)
Chantal de Gournay, Orange (France)
Maren Hartmann, University of Bremen (Germany)
Peter Heinzmann, Cnlab AG (Switzerland)
Jeroen Heres, TNO Delft (The Netherlands)
Lajla Klamer, TDC (Denmark)
Sander Limonard, TNO Delft (The Netherlands)
Claire Lobet Maris, University of Namur (Belgium)
Eugene Loos, University of Utrecht (The Netherlands)
Soulla Louca, Intercollege (Cyprus)
Veljko Malbasa, University of Novi Sad (Serbia and Montenegro)
Sanna Marttila, University of Art and Design Helsinki (Finland)
Ioana Moisil, Lucian Blaga University Sibiu (Romania)
Carina Pettersson, Linköping University (Sweden)
Jo Pierson, Free University of Brussels (Belgium)
Emil Popa, Lucian Blaga University Sibiu (Romania)
Marco Rossitti, University of Udine (Italy)
Knud Erik Skouby, Technical University (Denmark)
Bojan Srdjevic, University of Novi Sad (Serbia and Montenegro)
Frank Thomas, FTR (France)
Jane Vincent, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)
Constantin Bala Zamfirescu, Lucian Blaga University Sibiu (Romania)


Carpentier Nico (Phd)
Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Free University of Brussels
Centre for Studies on Media and Culture (CeMeSO)
Pleinlaan 2 - B-1050 Brussels - Belgium
T: ++ 32 (0)2-629.18.56
F: ++ 32 (0)2-629.28.61
Office: 5B.401a
Katholieke Universiteit Brussel - Catholic University of Brussels
Vrijheidslaan 17 - B-1081 Brussel - Belgium
T: ++ 32 (0)2-412.42.78
F: ++ 32 (0)2/412.42.00
Office: 4/0/18
European Communication Research and Education Association
E-mail: (Nico.Carpentier /at/

ECREA-Mailing list
ECREA Communication Doctoral Summer School information at: &
This mailing list is a free service from ECREA.
To unsubscribe, send an email message to (majordomo /at/
with in the body of the message (NOT in the subject): unsubscribe ecrea
ECREA - European Communication Research and Education Association
Postal address: ECREA - P.O. Box 106, B-1210 Brussels 21, Belgium
Email: (ecrea /at/

[Previous message][Next message][Back to index]