Speaker: Myriam Lewkowicz, Université de Technologie de Troyes, France
Title: Promoting the diversity of digital technologies
Digital technologies have invaded all aspects of our daily work and life and are essential to sustain economic and social life. However, these technologies are far from diverse; we end up using monolithic technologies not necessarily adapted to our needs, or not aligned with our values. How can we achieve a digital transformation of a society that values social interactions as a common good rather than as a source of income and accumulation? And thus how can we promote a diversity of digital technologies adapted to various situations and aligned with European values (human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, and human rights) – that go beyond the geographical borders of the continent. In order to meet this challenge, we must adopt a practice-centered approach to the design of digital technologies.
This design approach has existed for more than 30 years and was conceptualized by CSCW researchers. A bit more than ten years ago, a group of researchers and companies based in Europe decided to make this approach more visible to students, researchers, companies, and European institutions by creating the international (but European-based) association EUSSET. In the socio-technical approach we promote, traditional design criteria in computer science such as performance, correctness, robustness, or usability must be complemented by methods and perspectives that illuminate how technology and practice develop each other. The particular emphasis that is put on social practices requires understanding the social characteristics of the context in which the tools are going to be used and integrating the understanding of individual and social activities in the innovative design and development of digital technologies. Getting this rich understanding of the diversity of the world is the only way to take advantage of human and social capacities and to increase them with diverse digital technologies that people find useful, usable, consistent with their values, and respectful of their rights.
Myriam Lewkowicz is Professor at Troyes University of Technology where she heads the pluridisciplinary research group Tech-CICO and the master program. She is interested in defining digital technologies to support existing collective practices or to design new collective activities. This interdisciplinary research proposes reflections and approaches for the analysis and the design of new products and services to support cooperative work. The main application domains for this research for the last fifteen years have been healthcare (social support, coordination, telemedicine) and the industry (digital transformation, maintenance). She is a member of the program committees of the main conferences in Cooperative Work, Social Software, and Human-Machine Interaction, chairs the European scientific association EUSSET, and is deputy editor-in-chief of the CSCW journal, « The Journal of Collaborative Computing and Work Practices ».