Rajapinta Skrivarstuga – 5 vinkkiä artikkelityöpajan järjestämiseen

Torstaina 16.11. järjestettiin Rajapinnan ensimmäinen artikkelityöpaja, Tukholman-tuliaisina tuodulla skrivarstuga-konseptillaPäivän aikana annoimme palautetta yhteensä viidelle käsikirjoitukselle. Samalla opimme toistemme töistä, tavoitteista ja tutkimusyhteisöistä. Ja joimme vähän liian paljon kahvia.

Jos et päässyt mukaan, ei hätää! Järjestämme vastaavia työpajoja epäilemättä toistekin – ja näiden viiden vinkin avulla voit pistää oman työpajan pystyyn vaikka heti:

2017-11-16 14.59.16

1. Aloita ajoissa: Lähetä kutsu mahdollisille osallistujille ajoissa. Kokoa verkkolomakkeen kautta tieto 1) osallistujista ja 2) käsikirjoituksista. Hyvä ajankohta on usein pari viikkoa ennen yhteistä deadlinea, jos sellaisia on. Varaa työpajalle rauhallinen tila. Jos osallistujia ja käsikirjoituksia on niin paljon, että papereita on tarpeen käsitellä rinnakkaissessioissa, ota tämä huomioon myös tilajärjestelyissä.

2. Ennakkovalmistelut: Skrivarstugassa tarvitaan paperikopiot kaikista käsiteltävistä artikkeleista kaikille osallistujille. Tapahtuman lähestyessä pyydä osallistujia toimittamaan artikkelitiedostot määräaikaan mennessä kopiointia varten – tai määrää, että jokainen hoitaa paikalle riittävän määrän kopioita omasta artikkelistaan. Papereita ei siis lueta etukäteen – ennakkovalmisteluiden minimoimiseksi ja siksi, että päivä sujuu paremmin kun kaikki aloittavat samalta viivalta.

3. Työpajan ohjelma: Valmistele työpajan ohjelma niin, että jokaiselle artikkelille on varattu noin 60 minuuttia. Session aluksi kirjoittaja(t) kertoo lyhyesti, muutamalla lauseella, mistä paperissa on kyse, missä se on tarkoitus julkaista, ja mihin erityisesti toivoo muilta kommentteja & tukea. Sen jälkeen kaikilla on noin 25 minuuttia aikaa lukea paperi, jonka jälkeen on noin 25 minuuttia aikaa yhteiselle keskustelulle. 20 minuutissa ei tietenkään ehdi lukea pitkää tekstiä perusteellisesti, mutta kipukohdat ja kehitysideat yleensä löytyvät tällä menetelmällä sangen tehokkaasti. Koska tekstit luetaan paperilta, läppärit ja puhelimet voi jättää suosiolla syrjään – se tekee tunnelmasta keskittyneemmän ja levollisemman.

4. Palaute ja sen vastaanottaminen: Ohjeista osallistujat antamaan rakentavaa palautetta, miettimään mikä voisi auttaa kirjoittajia, puhumaan myös käsikirjoitusten vahvuuksista ja siitä, mikä erityisesti inspiroi tai vakuutti. Hyvä palaute voi olla myös kirjallisuusvinkki, idea artikkelin rakenteen sujuvoittamiseksi, tai vaikeaselkoisen kappaleen merkitseminen korjauslistalle. Vielä olennaisemmin, ohjeista osallistujat ottamaan palaute vastaan kuunnellen: Kun saat palautetta, sinun ei tarvitse eikä pidä vastata heti. Kuuntele ja tee muistiinpanoja. Vastaa palautteeseen muokkaamalla artikkeliasi.

5. Lounas, fika, ehkä myös afterwork: Varaa tarpeeksi aikaa tauoille – vauhdilla lukemisen ja intensiivisten palautekeskustelujen vastapainoksi tarvitaan lepohetkiä ja liikettä! Menkää yhdessä lounaalle. Ottakaa ruotsalaisista oppia ja kahvitelkaa rauhassa. Ja jos osallistujilla on intoa, päivän päätteeksi voi tietenkin jatkaa keskustelua afterworkin merkeissä.

Happy workshopping! Ha det bra!

Algorithmic Systems, Strategic Interaction, and Bureaucracy

What do algorithmic systems and bureaucracy have in common?

I gave on algorithmic systems, strategic interaction, and bureaucracy in the Making Sense of Algorithmic Systems symposium at the Annual Social Psychology Conference in Helsinki on November 18, 2017. The talk lays out early ideas in a domain that is (relatively) new for me. These have been developed in collaboration with Matti Nelimarkka, Jesse Haapoja, Juho Pääkkönen & others – but all mistakes are mine.

To accompany the slides above, here are the key ideas from the talk:

What might post-interaction HCI (Human–Computer Interaction) look like? This is a conceptual shift we are grappling with and trying to make sense of – focusing on direct and observable interaction between one individual and one device feels less and less sufficient (although those interactions, too, remain important). Inspired by Alex Taylor’s thoughts, I like to think of city bike systems as one example that pushes us to think about socio-technical systems and data in new ways.

The more we talk about algorithmic systems, the more we need to ask ourselves to be precise about how exactly they are different from socio-technical systems more broadly. Algorithms, data, artificial intelligence and machine learning are words I’ve heard awfully often this year — and there are problems with how they are used in public (and academic) conversations. There is lots of fear-mongering as well as moments when systems are narrated to hold more power and capabilities than they actually have etc.

One things that seems to be clear is that all things digital and the datafication of everything is attracting a lot of attention in a variety of fields – and critical researchers are already on it, too! There has been a proliferation of critical studies of algorithms and data over the past years. This reading list, collected by Nick Seaver and Tarleton Gillespie is one fantastic place to start from if you’d like to get a glimpse of what is going on. Moreover, we need to keep asking questions about what algorithms are and in what way(s) they are interesting. One important observation underlying the shift to talk about algorithmic systems rather than algorithms on their own is the fact that algorithms don’t exist in isolation. On this account, I recommend Algorithms and their Others, written by Paul Dourish.

Another source of inspiration for me has been this popular piece on the similarities between bureaucracy and algorithmic systems: Rule by Nobody. The analogy does not work 1:1, of course, but there is something to it. And this points to where I think social psychology has an opening to step in and speak up: our field has a lot of expertise on social interactions (also strategic ones) and organizations. These are needed in conversations about algorithmic systems.

For theoretical bases to work on algorithmic systems and strategic interaction, I recommend as a less known book by Erving Goffman, Strategic Interaction. It is a microsociological take of game theory! As I see it, there are (at least) two levels worth thinking about here: First, computer-mediated communication, including questions about how does social interaction play out in the context of algorithmic systems and how do individuals and groups use these systems in strategic ways in interacting with others? Second, human–computer interaction, with questions about how individuals and groups ”game the algorithm” and work around systems that are making it hard for them to accomplish their goals. Here, one might think about Uber drivers strategizing with one another (and against the company and its app) to make more money, but also about the kinds of workarounds that have long been observed as part of the ”normal” repertoire of how people make socio-technical systems work. Goffman’s work gives us tools to consider how individuals can interact with algorithmic systems (and with one another in the presence of these systems) in active, purposeful ways, rather than the dopes fooled by black boxes that popular accounts sometimes make us to be! But we need to be careful in considering what we can take from this work, focused on rich interactional settings (face-to-face).

When it comes to algorithmic systems and bureaucracy, Max Weber’s scholarship is one obvious candidate to work with. I, however, am intrigued to revisit Michel Crozier’s work, especially the book The Bureaucractic Phenomenon, as a resource for thinking about interactions with algorithmic systems. Crozier’s work challenges perspectives that overemphasize the rational organizational structure of bureaucracy, and places emphasis on the strategic efforts of different stakeholders within these organizational systems. Looking at algorithmic systems from this point of view allows for analysing strategic interactions on the system level in a manner that does not do away with the impact of networked systems but also keeps us focused on the possible tensions between the different human actors. Here, too, we need to be careful in applying old tricks to a new show, since as Minna Ruckenstein pointed out in the symposium, the rules in bureaucracies are typically public knowledge whereas this tends not to be the case with proprietary algorithms.

(Finally, while this talk deals with another domain, most of my recent research deals with the so-called sharing economy. If you’d like to hear more, I’d be happy to hear from you. For my academic papers, take a look at my Scholar profile.)

 

Juhlavuoden kunniaksi, #WikiSuomi100

Suomi täyttää tänä vuonna 100. Juhlavuodesta ja hyvistä tavoista viettää sitä voi olla montaa mieltä. Suomessa maksuttoman koulutuksen saaneena, tätä nykyä ulkomailla työskentelevänä, ja voittopuolisesti englanniksi kirjoittavana tutkijana minusta joka tapauksessa tuntuu, että jonkinlainen huomionosoitus olisi paikallaan.

Tästä lähtökohdasta syntyi idea #WikiSuomi100-kampanjasta. Kyse on uudenvuodenlupauksesta, jolla sitoutan itseni tekemään tämän vuoden aikana (vähintään) sata lisäystä ja/tai muokkausta suomenkieliseen Wikipediaan. Se ei ole paljon, mutta toivonkin tämän olevan ennen muuta yllyke toisillekin tehdä samoin – sekä lähtölaukaus meille kaikille kirjoittaa Wikipediaan enemmän ja useammin, (myös) suomeksi.

Tule mukaan! Jos olet jo aktiivinen wikipedisti, nostan hattua ja kannustan muokkaamaan haasteen sopivaksi. Voit vaikkapa keksittyä juhlavuoden kunniaksi tiettyihin teemoihin, laajentaa kotiseutujuttuja sukulaisten avustuksella, tai auttaa jonkun sellaisen haasteen kanssa alkuun, jolle Wikipedian editoiminen tuntuu vieraalta ajatukselta.

Ja jos oikein innostutaan, ehkä voitaisiin kutsua koolle Rajapinnan omat #WikiSuomi100-talkoot myöhemmin tänä vuonna!

Tule mukaan: ECSCW 2017 Workshop on Nomadic Culture Beyond Work Practices

Tule mukaan loppukesästä ECSCW-konferenssin yhteydessä, osin rajapintalaisin voimin, järjestettävään työryhmään:

ECSCW 2017 Workshop on Nomadic Culture Beyond Work Practices
August 29th, 2017, Sheffield, UK

************ IMPORTANT DATES ************
* Submission deadline: May 26th, 2017
* Notification of acceptance: June 16th, 2017
* Camera ready: June 30th, 2017
* Workshop day: August 29th, 2017

Workshop themes
*********************
Ten years after a successful workshop at ECSCW 2007 on a related theme, we set out to revisit the notion of nomadicity in light of recent research and empirical changes, such as the spread of wireless connectivity, the rise of the so-called ‘gig economy’ and the development of a nomadic culture entangling economic, social, cultural and technological practices enabling and constituting nomadicity.

We seek contributions that will deepen the current understanding of “nomadic culture”, as well as highlight opportunities and challenges for design. Contributors may wish to address a range of issues, including, but not restricted to:

* The transition from micro to macro aspects of nomadicity and from place-making practices to trajectories of nomadic lives;
* The transition from a work-centred to a practice-centred research entailing the work and non-work dimensions of people’s lives, and the negotiation and reconfiguration of work-life boundaries;
* Accounts of nomadic practices as emerging from novel spatial and organisational contexts;
* The range of organisational aspects, motivational factors, personal values and expectations underling the flexibility stemming from this way of working;
* The adoption of methodologies and frameworks to investigate trajectories of nomadic lives in changing organisational, technological and personal circumstances.
* The role of the constellations of technologies and digital platforms in enabling nomadic cultures, but also in creating a potential range of problems/issues to be dealt with;
* An examination of how we might identify those forces, contexts and dynamics that hinder, resist or work against the momentum of ‘nomadic culture’
* The technological, cultural, political and economic rationalities that underpin and legitimise contemporary enactments of nomadic work and the reproduction of nomadic culture;
* Methodological innovations in the study of nomadic culture;
* Analysis of the relationship between greater merging of human and machine and formations of nomadic culture;
* The role of technology as discourse in socially, culturally and ideologically shaping nomadic culture and nomadic worker subjectivity;
* Analysis of how a nomadic culture that emphasises constant technological innovation constitutes the relationships between capitalist goals of competition and profit and individual life aims;
* Explorations of what present and future “Nomadic Culture(s)” might look like, and of the challenges and issues we will be addressing by 2027.

Interdisciplinary participation from designers, developers, sociologists, psychologists, ethnographers, etc. is appreciated. In this way, the workshop will provide an important opportunity for researchers from both academia and industry to share ideas and possibly coordinate their efforts.

Submission format
*********************
Participants interested in contributing with a position paper have to send in a submission (max. 4 pages) containing a brief overview over the key ideas of the presentation and some information on their occupational background. Submissions must adhere to the IRSI series Format

Submission process
***********************
Papers must be submitted directly to the workshop organisers through the e-mail: nomadic-culture-ws@googlegroups.com

Review process
******************
Contributions will be reviewed by the workshop organisers and selected on the basis of their quality, compliance with the workshop theme, and the extent (and diversity) of their backgrounds in terms of fieldwork, design, and technology.

Publication
*************
Position papers accepted and presented in the workshop will be published in the workshop proceedings, which will be edited by the workshop organisers. The proceedings will include the final versions of all accepted contributions, adjusted to satisfy reviewers’ recommendations. It will be published as an issue of the International Reports of Social-Informatics (IIRSI) series from the International Institute of Socio-Informatics (IISI) in Bonn, Germany.

Organisers
*************
Chiara Rossitto, Stockholm University
Aparecido Fabiano Pinatti De Carvalho, University of Siegen
Luigina Ciolfi, Sheffield Hallam University
Airi Lampinen, Stockholm University
Breda Gray, University of Limerick

Contact
*********
E-Mail: nomadic-culture-ws@googlegroups.com

More information can be found at https://nomadicculturews.wordpress.com/

How big is the platform economy? Four key takeaways from Pew Research’s new report on gig work, online selling and home sharing

One question I get asked a lot and always find difficult to answer is how big is the platform economy.

The question is tricky to address, since there is no simple and agreed-upon definition of what even constitutes the platform economy. Pew Research Centre’s new report on gig work, online selling and home sharing does, however, provide us with some useful insight into the prevalence of earning money from digital ‘gig work’ platforms among adults in the US. While the report doesn’t speak to the situation in Finland or Europe, having a baseline is a helpful starting point.

Here are four key takeaways summarized from the report – and a short remark on what the report does not address.

1. Almost a quarter of American adults have earned money in the “platform economy” over the last year: First, nearly one-in-ten Americans (8%) have earned money in the last year using digital platforms to take on a job or task: 5% of Americans indicate that they have earned money from a job platform in the last year by doing online tasks (including but not limited to IT work, taking surveys, and doing data entry). Some 2% of Americans have earned money by driving for ride-hailing services, while 1% each have used these platforms to perform shopping or delivery tasks, as well as cleaning or laundry tasks. Second, nearly one-in-five Americans (18%) have earned money in the last year by selling something online. The largest share of online sellers are using digital platforms to sell their own used or second-hand goods, but others use these sites to sell a wide range of handmade items and consumer goods. Third, 1% have rented out their properties on a home-sharing site. To sum across these three types of activities, some 24% of adults in the US have earned money in the platform economy over the last year.

2. There are significant differences between those earning money from labor platforms (where value is created primarily through investing time and effort) vs capital platforms (where value is created primarily by making goods or possessions available): First, participation in labor platforms is more common among blacks and Latinos than among whites, more common among those with relatively low household incomes than those with relatively high household incomes, and more common among young adults than any other age group. Second, when it comes to capital platforms such as online selling, the reverse is true: Online selling is more prevalent among whites than blacks, more common among the well-off and well-educated than those with lower levels of income and educational attainment, and is engaged in by a relatively broad range of age groups.

3. Earnings from the platform economy mean different things to different people. The meaning of these earnings varies both between and within particular platforms: First, users of labor platforms and capital platforms express different levels of reliance on the income they earn from these sites. More than half of labor platform users say that the money they earn from these sites is “essential” or “important” to their overall financial situations. The same is true of just one-in-five online sellers (20%). Second, in the case of gig work, workers who describe the income they earn from these platforms as “essential” or “important” are more likely to come from low-income households, to be non-white and to have not attended college. They are less likely to perform online tasks for pay, but more likely to gravitate towards physical tasks such as ride-hailing or cleaning and laundry. They are also significantly more likely to say that they are motivated to do this sort of work because they need to be able to control their own schedule or because there are not many other jobs available to them where they live.

4. The broader public has decidedly mixed views about jobs in the emerging gig economy. A majority of Americans feel that these jobs are good options for people who want a flexible work schedule (68%) or for older adults who don’t want to work full time any more (54%). Yet, around one-in-five feel that these jobs place too much financial burden on workers (21%) and let companies take advantage of workers (23%), while just 16% feel that this type of work offers jobs that people can build careers out of.

+1 What does this report not talk about? Pew’s new report is a useful starting point to quantifying the prevalence of earning money from digital ‘gig work’ platforms, even if it focuses only on adults in the US. Taken my particular interests in peer-to-peer exchange and home sharing (aka network hospitality), what I was most missing in this report were insights into participation in initiatives that promote non-monetary co-use of resources (e.g. tool libraries or not-for-profit borrowing and lending of physical goods) instead of just online selling, and the non-monetary exchanges that go on in the scope of home sharing (such as network hospitality arranged via the Couchsurfing platform but also the social exchanges that are sometimes facilitated by the initial financial exchanges that structure home sharing via services like Airbnb). This report did not set out to investigate such questions, but hopefully a future one will. To fully appreciate the difference platform economies make in people’s lives, it is important to include the non-monetary activities in the equation, too.

For further reading:
Gig Work, Online Selling and Home Sharing (pdf, full version of the Pew Research report discussed in this blogpost)
The Online Labour Index (the first economic indicator that provides an online gig economy equivalent of conventional labour market statistics, developed at the Oxford Internet Institute)

Our prior research on network hospitality:
Lampinen, A. & Cheshire, C. (2016) Hosting via Airbnb: Motivations and Financial Assurances in Monetized Network Hospitality. CHI’16 Proceedings of the annual conference on Human factors in computing systems. ACM New York, NY, USA.

Lampinen, A. (2016) Hosting Together via Couchsurfing: Privacy Management in the Context of Network Hospitality. International Journal of Communication, 10(2016), 1581–1600.

Ikkala, T., & Lampinen, A. (2015) Monetizing Network Hospitality: Hospitality and Sociability in the Context of Airbnb. CSCW’15 Proceedings of the ACM 2015 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM New York, NY, USA.

Lampinen, A. (2014) Account Sharing in the Context of Networked Hospitality Exchange. CSCW’14 Proceedings of the ACM 2014 conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM New York, NY, USA.

Työryhmäkutsu: Digitalisaation sosiaalipsykologiaa [also in English]

Sosiaalipsykologian päivät 2016 järjestetään 25.-26.11.2016 Tampereella teemalla Toiseus, vieraus, kohtaamisia. (Tapahtuman voi ilmoittautua tämän lomakkeen kautta jo nyt, maksutta!) Kutsu Digitalisaation sosiaalipsykologiaa -käsittelevään, osin rajapintalaisten järjestämään työryhmään löytyy alta. Abstraktit toimitetaan päivien verkkosivuilta löytyvällä lomakkeella viimeistään 25.10.2016. Tervetuloa!

The Annual Days of Social Psychology 2016 will take place on November 25-26 in Tampere with the theme Encountering Otherness. (Registration for the main event is already open – and free of charge!) The call for abstracts for our workshop on Social psychology and Digitalisation can be found below. Abstracts are to be submitted via this web form on the event web site by October 25, 2016. Welcome!

 

 

 

Työryhmäkutsu: Digitalisaation sosiaalipsykologiaa

Erilaisten informaatio- ja viestintäteknologioiden arkipäiväistyminen muokkaa tapojamme toimia niin yksilöinä kuin ryhminä. Digitalisaatioon liittyy runsaasti kysymyksiä yhteyden ja eronteon dynamiikasta: Millaisia ovat informaatio- ja viestintäteknologiaan perustuvat yhteisöt? Miten vieraus ja toiseus ilmenevät verkottuneissa ympäristöissä? Miten informaatio- ja viestintäteknologiat yhtäältä mahdollistavat uusia kohtaamisia, ja toisaalta uusintavat syrjiviä rakenteita ja luovat uudenlaisia verkkovuorovaikutukseen liittyviä riskejä? Mitä sanottavaa sosiaalipsykologialla on algoritmeista, alustataloudesta tai sosiaalisesta mediasta? Toivomme tähän työryhmään empiiristä tutkimusta esitteleviä ja/tai teoreettisesti orientoituneita alustuksia, joiden pohjalta työryhmä keskustelee, miten sosiaalipsykologia tieteenalana voi hedelmällisesti tarkastella digitalisaatiota osana tutkimuskohteitaan ja tukea osaltaan digitalisaation mahdollisuuksia reiluutta ja syrjinnänvastaisuutta edistävänä voimana. Toivotamme tervetulleeksi abstrakteja joko suomeksi tai englanniksi. Abstraktit toimitetaan päivien verkkosivuilta löytyvällä lomakkeella viimeistään 25.10.2016. Tervetuloa!

 

 

Call for Abstracts: Social psychology and digitalisation

The ubiquitous presence of varied information and communication technologies services shapes our behavior both as individuals and as groups. Digitalisation is related to a rich set of questions about the social dynamics of otherness and encounters: What communities relying on information and communication technologies are like? What does otherness look like in networked settings? How may information and communication technologies on the one hand enable novel encounters, and on the other renew discriminatory structures and practices, and also create new risks related to computer mediated communication? What does social psychology have to say about algorithms, platform economies, or social media? This workshop welcomes presentations entailing empirical studies and/or non­-empirical theory building. Based on the presentations, the workshop will discuss how social psychology as a field can productively approach digitalisation as a part of its objects of study and how the field might, for its part, support digitalisation’s potential to be a force for fairness and anti-discrimination. We welcome abstracts either in Finnish or English. Abstracts are to be submitted via this web form on the event web site by October 25, 2016. Welcome!

Työryhmän järjestäjät/Workshop coordinators:

  • Jesse Haapoja, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT
  • Airi Lampinen, Mobile Life Centre, Stockholm University
  • Mikael Wahlström, Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT
  • Markus Kaakinen; University of Tampere
  • Jenni Raitanen, University of Tampere
  • Anu Siroja, University of Tampere

 

CSCW 2016 panel recap: Does the Sharing Economy do Any Good?

This blogpost is a recap of a panel organized at the CSCW 2016 conference.

A summary of Does the Sharing Economy do Any Good? (pdf) is archived in the ACM Digital Library. In it, we describe the topic and aims of the panel in this way: Despite the benefits offered by sharing economy, researchers have identified several challenges preventing disadvantaged groups (e.g. low socioeconomic status, un(der)employed and/or users from emerging regions) from receiving the same level of benefits as those from advantaged populations. This panel brings researchers from the sharing economy and mobile crowdsourcing space whose research has identified unique challenges for underserved populations. We consider the opportunities offered by these platforms to disadvantaged communities and examine to what extent these platforms instead may recreate disadvantage, as well as the workarounds communities employ to make these platforms work for them. We examine the opportunities for the CSCW community to address these challenges going forward.

The goal of this post is to document some of what we discussed during the session. (I want to acknowledge Tawanna for coordinating and chairing the panel as well as thank all the panelists for sharing their slides with me to help make this blogpost happen.)

In her introductory comments, Tawanna Dillahunt (University of Michigan) described the aims of the panels around presenting different perspectives and research findings about the sharing economy as they relate to populations who may be underserved (e.g., low SES, un(der)employed and/or users from emerging regions). We were invited to focus on 1) the challenges uncovered in prior work (e.g., discrimination, perceived safety concerns, limited trust, technical and methodological challenges); 2) opportunities for CSCW to address these challenges and barriers to doing so; and 3) next steps for CSCW researchers and practitioners. In other words, the panel

  • What are the opportunities for the sharing economy to benefit populations who may have limited education, limited access to resources or be un(der)employed?
  • Why are individuals from low-SES areas less able to benefit from these applications, and what are the unique challenges they face?
  • What are some of the methodological challenges studying these applications among underserved populations?

Tawanna, then, shared recent research about active job seekers from disadvantaged communities. The goal of this project was to explore whether the sharing economy was feasible for unemployed and underemployed individuals from economically distressed areas. Instead of repeating Tawanna’s remarks in detail, I’m happy to point you to this paper: The Promise of the Sharing Economy among Disadvantaged Communities (published at CHI’15). In brief, the key findings from this research suggest that some participants felt that the sharing economy would fail in communities that had low collective efficacy among its members. Collective efficacy refers to the feeling that your community has some control over the environment, and these participants felt that they lived in unproductive neighborhoods. Another barrier was that participants distrusted aspects of the sharing economy related to monetary transactions and to sharing their personal data. For example, participants were hesitant to pay using cell phones, provide their location, provide a link from sharing economy applications to other accounts, such as Facebook, and display photos. Moreover, the reputation systems built into applications (such as Lyft and Airbnb) were misconceived by the participants. Finally, the participants stated that item exchanges required a safe place (like a police or fire station) for conducting the exchange. [You should also check out these publications from Tawanna and colleagues: Fostering Social Capital in Economically Distressed Communities (published at CHI’14) and Designing for Disadvantaged Job Seekers: Insights from Early Investigations (forthcoming at DIS’16).]

Next, it was my turn to take the stage and share insights from recent research. I started by voicing the question on many people’s minds – “what are we talking about when we talk about the ‘sharing economy'”? My goal here was not to settle the dispute but to nudge the community to work toward developing a set of terms that can cover in a nuanced and more precise way the diversity within what gets referred to as the “sharing economy”, ranging from paid on-demand labor to community-oriented models, such as time banks. I also suggested that asking “How common is it for those involved to take part on both sides of the market?” (or more personally “Would you be happy to act in both/all roles that are relevant for a given marketplace?”) could serve as something of a litmus test for assessing the flavour of different systems in the domain. From these general remarks, I shifted into a discussion of the lessons learned from our efforts of setting up local online peer-to-peer exchange in a single parents’ network. For details, you should check out the paper I co-authored with Kai Huotari and Coye Cheshire: Challenges to Participation in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Local Online Peer-to-Peer Exchange in a Single Parents’ Network (published in Interaction Design and Architecture(s), special issue on peer-to-peer exchange and the sharing economy). One key insight from this work was that (1) the perceived risks of participation are very contextual and (2) pressures related to a specific situation (such as a being a single parent in a particular geographical and societal setting) can impede participation even when social & material benefits of participation are considered desirable (or even necessary) and even when no direct monetary investment is required. For the participants in this study, the initial social commitment and time investment to build trusted relationships and embrace a new online peer sharing system were significant barriers to participation. So, in designing peer-to-peer exchange systems, it is important to think about for whom is it easy to take part, what type of exchanges are facilitated and what kinds of requirements for trust do they involve. Moreover, while there is a lot to be gained from peer support, sometimes it could be more effective to match participants with differing, complimentary needs/interests, with one another. Finally, it is worthwhile to seek clarity on whether the aim is to design for a particular group vs for the inclusion of a particular group in a broader exchange system.

Third, Jacki O’Neill (Microsoft Research India) took the stage to share findings of an ethnographic study of auto-rickshaw drivers in Bangalore who were using a peer-to-peer app (Ola Auto) for getting rides. The project was driven by Jacki’s interest in understanding how this app impacted the practices of auto driving and, specifically, whether the app improves the auto-drivers’ lot. I encourage you to read more about the research Jacki and her team have done from their CSCW’16 extended abstract Design Illustrations to Make Adoption of Ola Technology More Beneficial for Indian Auto-Rickshaw Drivers and the forthcoming CHI’16 paper Peer to peer in the workplace: A view from the roadIn brief, the promise of Ola is to reduce uncertainty by connecting drivers to customers and making it easier for drivers to get fares. In reality, Ola currently does little to reduce the uncertainty of an auto-drivers day and, rather, acts as a digital middleman, intervening in the marketplace by setting fares and incentives, and controlling the platform, network and algorithms. Furthermore, the app controls what information is hidden from and revealed to the drivers. Despite this state of affairs that is far from ideal, Jacki emphasized that peer-to-peer apps offer opportunities for creating new types of more direct working relationships between drivers and passengers. Yet, she pointed out that to avoid recreating existing hierarchies, we must be less technology-driven and acknowledge that we are redesigning work – if we want to create sustainable markets for work, we need to understand and balance the priorities and needs of all the actors involved. Jacki concluded on the hopeful note that more equitable re-design could produce more sustainable, long term marketplaces which can also make a profit.

Loren Terveen (University of Minnesota) joined the discussion with a focus on the US, taking as his starting point a recent paper he co-authored with Jacob Thebault-Spieker and Brent Hecht: Avoiding the South Side and the Suburbs: The Geography of Mobile Crowdsourcing Markets (published at CSCW’15). The paper takes on questions about where participants in mobile crowdsourcing markets will be willing to go to complete tasks and how geography affects how much participants in mobile crowdsourcing markets request in payment. Most people participating in mobile crowdsourcing markets do not live in lowest income areas or in suburbs, and crowdworkers are less willing to go over to areas further away from their homes. Participants were found to assess acceptable distance in light of the payoff and perceived safety. Moving to a more general discussion, Loren challenged us to think about what can we do in the face of the inequalities that research reveals and, second – who’s we? Finally, he brought up Lawrence Lessig’s Code, suggesting that the four ways to regulate behavior that are identified in the book (social norms, law, incentives, code) could be helpful in thinking about this domain, too, opening up space to think about what different people might want to take on, on the one hand as researchers and, on the other, as citizens (and how these two may align to a different degree and in different ways depending on the person and the setting).

Our last speaker was Cory Kendrick (Uber) addressed the topic of the panel based on her work at Uber. She approached the perspective from the point of view of passengers, arguing that Uber’s service can extend the research of public transit and help connect the first and last mile, providing mobility options for density-starved areas. Cory also pointed to this report from 2010 by the Brookings InstitutionJob Sprawl and the Suburbanization of Poverty.

Finally, there were plenty of good questions from the audience. We did not have the time to address all of them (not even close) so here’s a slightly edited, selected collection to prompt further reflections:

  • Should companies like Uber and Task Rabbit build more empathy and awareness of workers to their consumers in their app? Is that realistic?
  • What’s the point of asking what we can do outside of the system? Why are we talking as if existing systems have no room for change?
  • What happens when/if all the VC money propping the sharing economy up dries up and the people who make a living off of this can no longer do so because the subsidies dry up?
  • What are ways we can ensure that people take part on both sides of the market?
  • What CSCW applications can we start working on that help foster collective bargaining?
  • How can algorithms used by these platforms be made more transparent to drivers?
  • How do we stop the unintended consequence of the sharing economy on the rights of workers to collective action?
  • It seems that sharing economy systems are more buyer’s markets. What can be done to balance this out?
  • How does homophily and discrimination vary among the type of service/economy in question?
  • What are alternatives to the current reputation systems?
  • How might cooperatives work as a model for sharing economies? What about roles that the public sector, especially cities, could take?
  • Are there examples of local communities adapting applications of the sharing economy to address their own community’s needs?