All posts by Leah Macfadyen

CATaC 2014: Call for Papers and Panels

CaTaC’14: Culture, Technology, Communication:
Celebration, Transformation, New Directions

Please note!  June is a busy month for conferences and tourism in Oslo.  We strongly urge potentially interested participants to explore the accommodations page and book as early as possible.  Notifications of acceptance will be issued sufficiently early (March/April, 2014) so as to allow cost-free reservation cancellation if need be.

Conference Co-organizers

Organizing Committee

  • José Abdelnour-Nocera (School of Computing and Technology, University of West London)
  • Herbert Hrachovec (Philosophy Department, University of Vienna)
  • Leah Macfadyen (Evaluation and Learning Analytics, University of British Columbia)
  • Patrizia Schettino (Communication Studies, Università della Svizzera italiana)
  • Ylva Hård af Segerstad (Department of Applied Information Technology at the University of Gothenburg/Chalmers)
  • Andra Siibak (Media Studies, University of Tartu)
  • Michele M. Strano, Program Chair (Communication Studies, Bridgewater College)
  • Satomi Sugiyama (Communication and Media Studies, Franklin College Switzerland)

Background.  Our 1998 conference on “Culture, Technology, and Communication” (CATaC) was among the first devoted to the roles of culturally-variable norms, practices, and communicative preferences in the designs, implementations, and responses to (networked) information and communication technologies. The biennial CATaC series has generated a number of significant publications; the series has also been ranked by the Australian Research Council among the top 20% of conferences in terms of international impact and significance. Equally importantly: our critical but collegial conference culture provides a unique oasis for participants who shared often radically interdisciplinary interests.

Transformation. As the Internet and then the World Wide Web have come to now connect over 2 billion people globally, the questions of culture and communication vis-à-vis (networked) ICTs have become increasingly mainstream and widely explored across the needed range of disciplines, conferences, and publication venues. At the same time, however, there is ongoing need for a conference venue that fosters new explorations at the intersections of culture, technology, and communication – as approached in ways that are:

  • robustly interdisciplinary / cross-disciplinary;
  • cordially but rigorously critical;
  • inclusive of the philosophical, including the ethical and political dimensions of ICT design and diffusion;
  • relational, bringing out the entanglements of culture, communication, and technology;
  • and within a conference environment shaped by our hallmark hospitality and collegiality.

Accordingly, CaTaC’14 will

  • celebrate the people and accomplishments of the past conference series, including the production of a Festschrift; and
  • transform the conference series through development of
  • new research, directions and approaches.

We invite paper and panel submissions that address the intersections between culture, technology, and communication with a focus on either Design/Production or Practice (see descriptions below).

Conference tracks

Broadly, we invite research, reflection, and scholarship that specifically address one or more of our defining elements of culture, technology, and communication – while simultaneously exploring the interrelationship(s) between these.   More particularly, we invite submissions that do so by way of focusing on either Design/Production or Practice.

1  Design/Production

For this track, we invite individual papers and panels that look at how technical, cultural and communication affordances and constraints intersect in the production of technology, messages and theory construction. This track includes:

Designs for Good Lives in a Mediated Age, e.g.

  1. emotions in design and in user experience;
  2. embodiment and the notion of body, memory and emotions both in philosophy and in material culture;
  3. design as “skin of culture” (De Kerckhove, 1991).

Invited panel, “Cross-cultural understandings and designs of social robots as co-agents of good lives” (Satomi Sugiyama, chair).

Trans-mediated and intelligent workplaces: implications for work analysis and interaction design, e.g.,

  1. The sociotechnical challenges for designing technologies for new forms of workers and workplaces
  2. Implications for design of sociotechnical understandings of trans-mediated work
  3. Ethical and cultural implications for interaction design on the light of the transformation of human agency in smart workplaces.
  4. Cultural aspects of human work interaction design

Technology Design: Politics and ethics

The 2013 Report by the Climate Change Panel and the revelations by Edward Snowden added significantly to our environmental, human rights, and privacy concerns. How can – and do – these concerns inspire alternative design thinking and design? Sustainable technology,  ‘slow tech’, different forms of ‘undesigning’ technology or ‘NSA-free’ as design specification are some of the approaches promoting more ethical designs. We invite both theoretical papers as well as discussions of practical examples that bring out the politics and ethics of technology design.

Legal and ethical issues tied to media environments where authorship becomes increasingly invisible

Research Design and Theory Development

Access to “big data” and developments in data science have enhanced our ability to use computation and modeling both in place of and in conjunction with interpretive qualitative methods. Example contributions to this thread would include:

  1. Critical analyses of exemplar research using “big data” approaches and analytics to examine technology design and usages. What are the strengths and limits of such approaches?
  2. Explorations of the ethical, social, and/or political dimensions of “big data” research including culturally-variable patterns of regulations regarding data privacy protection, research ethics, etc.
  3. Exemplar research using mixed methods that capitalize on the strengths of quantitative and qualitative approaches

2  Practice

We invite individual submissions and panels that have the use of information and communication technologies in specific cultural contexts as their main focus. Examples include:

Cultural diversity and global ICTs, e.g. ,global health information systems, Wikipedia, social media;

Global and local cultures of computing, e.g.

  1. outsourcing, global development teams;
  2. the identity of migrants and the experience of migration;
  3. appropriation, creolization, hybridization between cultures and also between technologies;

The construction of identity using online social media, gaming, and blogging platforms

Political activism through social media

Privacy issues in media environments that encourage public identities.

Analysis of Cultural Discourses about technology that shape understanding and use, e.g.:

  1. Perceptions of authorship and ownership in environments dependent on user generated content
  2. Hopes and fears associated with the introduction of new technologies
  3. Understandings of the relationship between the “real” and the “virtual”

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.

Papers will be published in the Conference Proceedings (electronic only).  Authors retain copyright, etc.

Registration fees: to be determined.  (We anticipate that registration fees will be somewhat – perhaps significantly – less than in previous years.)

CATaC 2014 Deadlines and submission formats

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.

Papers will be published in the Conference Proceedings (electronic only).  Authors retain copyright, etc.

Important Dates

  • Submission of papers (short or full), panel proposals: 2 March 2014
  • Notification of acceptance: 15 April 2014
  • Final formatted papers (for conference proceedings): 2 May 2014


Please download one of the following files which contain the Submission Instructions and Style Templates:


CATaC 2014 (Oslo) Accommodation Options

Because June is a busy conference and tourist month in Oslo, we strongly urge participants to book as early as possible!

The Rica Victoria Hotel is in the direct centre of Oslo, with quite easy access to the University. Participants enjoy the University of Oslo discount rate of 1095,- NOK per night, including breakfast.

Self-service hotels

Comfort Hotel Xpress (Møllergata 26, 0179 Oslo) is within easy walking distance of the centre of Oslo and the various public transit stations that will get you quickly to the University and conference venue. Current booking rate, 540,- NOK per night; breakfast can be ordered for NOK 85 (or NOK 95 for organic). This hotel chain is also one of the better ones when it comes to social and environmental responsibility.

P-hotel (Grensen 19, NO-0159 Oslo) is even closer in and convenient to both tram (“trick”) and metro stations for University access. Current booking rate is 595,- NOK per night., including breakfast.

Citybox, Oslo (Prinsensgate 6, N-0152 Oslo) is very close to the train station and both tram (“trick”) and metro stations for University access. Single rooms currently range between 550,- (weekends) to 750,- NOK (some weekdays). No breakfast, but Stockfleths Café at the corner of the hotel is one of the best places for coffee, breakfast and lunch.

The Oslo municipal website for all B&Bs and pensions lists additional alternatives:

Hotel Karl Johan: This is a hotel directly on the main street of Oslo City Center. Walking distance to most tourist attractions. It’s a two minutes’ walk to the Metro, and 10 minutes with the metro to the University. Prices start at 1300,- NOK per night including breakfast.

Hotel Gyldenløve: Placed in one of the best shopping districts in Oslo  (Majorstua), and quite close to the University. It’s a ten minutes’ walk to the Metro, and 2 minutes with the metro to the University, or you can walk all the way (about 30 minutes). Prices starts at 1052,- NOK per  night.

Hotel Munch: Close to the city centre. Walking distance to most tourist attractions in Oslo. It’s a 5 minutes’ walk to the Metro, and 10 minutes with the metro to the University. Prices starts at 845,- NOK per night.

Haraldsheim Youth Hostel: The cheapest alternative. A bit outside of the city center, but easy accessed by Metro, trams or buses. It’s a 10-15 minutes’ walk to the Metro, and 10 minutes with the metro to the  University. Prices starts at 255,- NOK (4 bed dorm) to 510,- (single  room with bathroom) including breakfast.

We look forward to welcoming you to Oslo next June!

CATaC 2012 Conference

Beyond the digital/cultural divide: in/visibility and new media

CATaC 2012 took place in Aarhus, Denmark from June 18-20, 2012.

Keynote Speakers

  • Dr. Rasha Abdulla (Associate Professor and Chair of the Journalism & Mass Communication Department, The American University in Cairo).

Provisional title: “Lessons from Egypt: The roles and limits of social media in political activism and transformation”

  • Dr. Randi Markussen (Associate Professor and Head of Group, Technologies in Practice, IT University of Copenhagen).

Provisional title: “E-Voting and Public Control of Elections”

Our 2012 conference, as the title suggests, began 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 panels and presentations addressed 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

CATaC 2012 Conference Proceedings can be reviewed online here.

You may purchase earlier conference proceedings from previous conferences from links on the right of this website.

CATaC 2010 Conference

diffusion 2.0: computing, mobility, and the next generations

The biennial CATaC conference series provides a premier international forum for current research on how diverse cultural attitudes shape the implementation and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The conference series brings together scholars from around the globe who provide diverse perspectives, both in terms of the specific culture(s) they highlight in their presentations and discussions, and in terms of the discipline(s) through which they approach the conference theme.

CATaC’10 took place at The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, Canada.

Topics of particular interest included but were not limited to:

  • Mobile technologies in developing countries
  • New layers of imaging and texting interactions fostering and/or threatening cultural diversity
  • Theoretical and practical approaches to analyzing “culture”
  • 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

You may purchase the conference proceedings from previous conferences from