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CFP for CATaC’12: Beyond the digital/cultural divide: In/visibility and new media

On behalf of the CATaC (Cultural Attitudes towards Technology and Communication) Organizing Committee, I am very pleased to pass on to you the first CFP for CATaC’12: Beyond the digital/cultural divide: in/visibility and new media (June 18-20, 2012, Aarhus, Denmark).

The biennial CATaC conference series, begun in 1998, has become a premier international forum for current research on the complex interactions between culturally-variable norms, practices, and communication preferences, and interaction with the design, implementation and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Our 2012 conference, as the title suggests, begins with the recognition that the ongoing issues and challenges clustering around digital divides – often involving mutually reinforcing cultural divides – extends beyond classic and stubborn problems of access to new media and communication technologies.

For example, matters of representation come into play, issuing in a cluster of questions:
Whose images and words are seen/presented/promoted and whose aren’t? And why?
If activists are using new media to represent realities of, say, oppressed indigenous people in a given country, is this better than no visibility at all, even if the people in question do not have access or skills to present themselves as subjects?

In particular:
Local and indigenous HCI/ID is about making visible the semiotic scripts and political processes of meaning construction that shape the process of technology design and knowledge representation from a sociotechnical perspective. Making visible these scripts enables the assessment of the value of these tools and frameworks from indigenous and/or local perspectives. Key concerns here are (1) to examine the meaning and validity of democratic values that drive participatory design as a discipline, and (2) to question ‘exported’ representations of what constitutes good usability and user experience.

How do new practices of cloaking messages in otherwise public or semi-public media; for example, the strategies of online steganography work to create intentional invisibility in otherwise visible spaces? Are there important culturally-variable elements in these practices that, when brought to the foreground, help illuminate and clarify them in new ways?

What are the role(s) of (culturally) diverse understandings and representations of gender in structuring the frameworks and practices of design and implementation. How do these roles foster the visibility of some vis-à-vis the invisibility of “others” (in Levinas’ sense, in particular)?

Additional submissions are encouraged that address further conference points of emphasis:
Theoretical and practical approaches to analyzing “culture”
New layers of imaging and texting interactions fostering and/or threatening cultural diversity
Impact of mobile technologies on privacy and surveillance
Gender, sexuality and identity issues in social networks
Cultural diversity in e-learning and/or m-learning
Culturally-variable approaches to online identity management/creation, privacy, trust Copyright and intellectual property rights – recent developments, culturally-variable future directions?
Culturally-variable responses to commodification in online environments
Both short (3-5 pages) and long (10-15 pages) original papers are sought for presentation. Panel proposals addressing a specific theme or topic are also encouraged.

Our provisional schedule

Submission of papers (short or full), panel proposals: 17. February 2012
Notification of acceptance: 16. March, 2012
Final formatted papers (for conference proceedings): 19. April 2012
Further details regarding program (including keynote speakers and pre-conference activities), registration fees, travel and accommodations will be available soon on the conference website,.

We look forward to welcoming you to Aarhus next June!