Rethinking the Culture of Busyness and IT

“Slow Down, You Move Too Fast”: Rethinking the Culture of Busyness and IT
NSF-Sponsored Symposium Seattle, WA May 6-7, 2011

We live in a culture of busyness: in developed countries, many of us feel rushed, overloaded and overworked, yet we value the idea of doing more in less time. In this culture, information technologies (IT) are intended to free us from hard labor and save us time: e-mail is sent immediately, e-shopping saves us from trudging through malls, status updates and microblogging give us quick glimpses into friends’ lives, and smartphones make it all instantly accessible on the go. At the same time, our use of IT may affect experiences of time in other ways:

Facilitating fragmentation and micro-coordination of work, inadvertently or insidiously redistributing labor and responsibility, making accessible an overabundance of information, products and services among which we feel obligated to choose properly, and increasing our availability to anyone, anytime and anywhere. What role does technology actually play in promoting a culture of busyness? Can technology be designed purposely against a cultural mainstream of productivity, encouraging slowing down, reflection, and pause? To what extent could such technology be relevant to task-centric workplaces or busy homes with multiple family members coordinating their activities?

The goal of this NSF-funded symposium is to foster an interdisciplinary research community that draws from the social sciences, science & technology studies, organization and management science, and technology design to address the following questions:

(1) What are the roles of IT in coping with and/or promoting a culture of busyness? We aim to identify theoretical and empirical gaps in understanding sociotechnical aspects of busyness at the individual, organizational, and societal level.

(2) To what extent is it possible to intervene in the culture of busyness by altering the design of IT or its use practices? We will identify both technical and social opportunities and challenges in the design and application of IT interventions for this purpose.

We invite researchers, designers, and practitioners interested in addressing the relationship between technology and the intensification of life in the workplace, at home, and elsewhere. Sample topics include but are not limited to:
– Interruption management and the increasing demand on cognitive resources
– Information overload in web, internet, and communication technologies, including social media and social networking sites: causes, experiences, coping strategies, and social and cultural responses
– Rhetoric and costs of anytime, anywhere access and availability with mobile and awareness technologies
– Sociological analysis of uses of technologies for time management, activity and task management, and personal information management
– Technology saving whose time, at whose expense and other political questions
– Analysis of ties between technologies in domestic environments and the acceleration of home life and leisure
– Designing for slowness, reflection, and pause
– Analysis of ways technology design redistributes workload either surreptitiously, intentionally, or accidentally, fairly or unfairly, sometimes in the name of “efficiency”
– Design and use of technology in cultures embracing other values of time and work
– Possibilities for and limitations of interventions based on technology design or changing use practices in any of these topics

To participate, please submit a position paper that briefly addresses each of the following questions:
1. What work have you done in this area? How is it related to the theme of this symposium?
2. Identify one or two key issues, challenges, or opportunities you are interested in discussing in this symposium. Why are they important? How do you envision making progress in addressing them?
3. What one piece of research or writing have you found most inspirational for your work in the area? 

Submissions should be 2-4 pages, using the ACM paper format available at: Please send your submission or questions about the symposium to

February 1, 2011: Deadline for position papers March 1, 2011: Notification of acceptance May 6-7, 2011: Symposium

The symposium will take place near the University of Washington campus, Seattle, WA.

Travel funding and accommodation at the Waterfront Hotel in Seattle will be offered to one person for each accepted symposium submission.

Gilly Leshed, Department of Communication, Cornell University Phoebe Sengers, Information Science and Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University Helen Nissenbaum, Media, Culture, and Communication & Computer Science, New York University Batya Friedman, The Information School, University of Washington Carman Neustaedter, School of Interactive Arts + Technology, Simon Fraser University

Sponsored by NSF grant number IIS-1049359: Workshop: Rethinking the Value of Busyness in IT

About UUID

UUID (Universal Usability and Interaction Design) SIG at Faculty of Creative Multimedia, Multimedia University, Malaysia.
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