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Designing for Animals: Defining “Participation” in Animal-Computer Interaction is a one day workshop preceding in ACI2018 on Wednesday 4th of December.

This one-day workshop examines the notion of Participatory Design (PD) methodologies drawing from Human Computer Interaction (HCI) in order to inform Animal Computer Interaction (ACI). Increasingly, work in ACI is being labeled as “participatory” where the animals involved are considered co-designers. This is often done by broadening participation models or drawing directly from existing PD methods well established in HCI. However, what this means for ACI has not formally been discussed other than fragmented researchers point of view. The aim of this workshop is to push forward discussion of what “participation” means in the context of animal users, whatever this may be.

The workshop has four main questions:

  • If an animal user does not possess the cognitive ability to understand their contribution, or we are unable to quantify their ability to understand, does that discount the user-centred design methods that ACI researchers currently use from being classed as Participatory Design?
  • If so, what should the terminology be? If there are tensions over terminology within the broader HCI community and ACI community, how might these be resolved?
  • Similarly, drawing from current ACI literature, does a species have to understand that he/she is being involved to be empowered?
  • How might experimental methods, such as those established in ecology or animal behavior science, be leveraged so as to continue to adapt participatory methods that have been borrowed from HCI directly and/or adapted to ACI?

This workshop will help connect researchers from different fields together. We welcome participants from a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to, ethology, animal biology, veterinary research, farming technology, animal behaviour, animal computer interaction, human computer interaction, social computing and other related fields. 

At the workshop, participants will focus on actuvities designed to create a dialog and foster structured and semi-structured debate around participation. This will be done by allowing, in some respects, researchers to guide the discussion around poignant topics.

The outcomes of this workshop will be a discussion from ACI and non-ACI practitioners to provide potential solutions and methodological definitions moving forward. This will provide a venue for a healthy debate moving the discussion forward and inviting outside opinions.


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