Slides from my Inaugural Lecture

I gave my inaugural professorial lecture on the 30th of January 2019.

‘Users, participants, co-designers or just pesky humans? On the challenges of human centred research in Human-Computer Interaction.’

Abstract: A main aspiration of HCI is to be human- and user- centred in its approach to creating novel digital interactions. But how do we engage, involve and encourage end users to participate in HCI? The field has tackled this challenge in many ways. Notably, Participatory Design has been widely adopted in order for users and stakeholders to become active part of the technology development process itself. This, however, is no easy feat.

In this lecture, Professor Luigina Ciolfi will examine how focusing on people, their practices and the places where they occur does lead to illuminating insights, but also brings hefty challenges. Understanding and bridging cultures, languages, priorities, and identities is hard work, with difficult negotiations and some failures bound to happen along the way. Drawing from her experience of human-centred and participatory research on topics such as cultural heritage technologies, mobile and nomadic lives, interaction in public spaces, and tangible and embodied interaction design, Luigina will reflect on the opportunities, successes and difficulties that arise when working in partnership with end-users, and on what being “human-centred” means for HCI in an age of apparent ubiquitous sharing and participation.

The slides can be found at:

The Collaborative Economy Symposium at SHU – Nov 19 2018


Date: 19th November 2018 (09AM-05PM)
Venue: The Hubs, Sheffield Hallam University Students Union, Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2QQ

The terms “Sharing Economy” or “Collaborative Economy” have been commonly used in recent years to refer to a proliferation of initiatives, business models and forms of work. The COST Action “Sharing and Caring” ( ) (2017-2021) is working to develop a European network of actors (including scholars, practitioners, communities and policy makers) focusing on the development of collaborative economy models and platforms and on its implications on society and technology.
The COST Action provides opportunities for working and collaboration on this topic across 31 countries.
This one-day Symposium will bring together interested participants to hear about current research on the topic of the collaborative economy and its implications and to discuss possible joint initiatives and projects. Presentations will take place in the morning and discussions in small thematic groups will follow in the afternoon.

The event will feature two invited keynote speakers:

  • Dr. Gabriela Avram (University of Limerick, Ireland), Chair of the “Sharing And Caring” COST Action (full info)
  • Dr. Clara Crivellaro (Newcastle University), Principal Investigator of the EPSRC Network+ Social Justice Through the Digital Economy (full info)

The workshop will be chaired by Prof Luigina Ciolfi (SHU), UK representative on the Action’s Management Committee and Chair for Short-Term Scientific Missions.


09:00 Registration and Welcome by Prof Luigina Ciolfi (SHU)
09:30 Keynote Presentation: Dr Gabriela Avram (University of Limerick, Ireland): Collaborative Economy narratives – between digital social innovation and sharewashing

10:00 Break

10:30 Keynote Presentation: Dr Clara Crivellaro (Newcastle University): Not-Equal: a model for democratizing innovation through collaborative commissioning of research

11:00 Presentations on current SHU research:

  • Dr Joe Langley (LabForLiving, Art and Design Research Centre) “Caring and Sharing Economies in the Healthcare Sector”
  • Prof Rory Ridley-Duff (Sheffield Business School) “Multi-stakeholder cooperatives in the sharing economy: four early adoptions of the FairShares Model”
  • Prof Luigina Ciolfi (Communication and Computing Research Centre) “Community-led ‘sharing and caring’ culture and heritage initiatives”

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Small Group Discussions, ideas for joint research, funding proposals, etc.
15:00 Break
15:30 Small Group Discussions continue
16:30 Final plenary discussion and closing

The venue (The Hubs, Sheffield Hallam University Students Union) is part of SHU’s City Campus, close to Sheffield train station and city centre car parks.

For practical info please contact Kate Philp (

Keynote Abstracts

Dr Gabriela Avram (University of Limerick, Ireland) : Collaborative Economy narratives – between digital social innovation and sharewashing
The labels “Sharing Economy” and “Collaborative Economy” have been widely used in recent years to refer to a variety of initiatives, business models, and forms of work – from commercial platforms to makerspaces and urban gardens. Two different narratives on the collaborative economy tend to dominate the current discourse. One group of narratives focuses on social innovation, creating more sustainable economic and environmental models in which sharing access to goods and services allows for a more efficient and sustainable utilisation of resources. The second group centres on the idea of market-focused digital innovation able to disrupt existing business models and generate economic activity, social and environmental benefits being presented as the main incentive. This talk will introduc e the approach adopted within the Sharing and Caring COST action, which attempts to develop a better understanding of the wide variety of the initiatives included under the sharing economy umbrella term, rather than adopting any of the definitions offered by existing literature. The talk will describe the work undertaken so far in the different working groups, the outputs and repositories created, as well as the open collaboration opportunities available to the action participants.

Dr Clara Crivellaro (Newcastle University): Not-Equal: a model for democratizing innovation through collaborative commissioning of research
In this talk I explore the potential for collaborative processes to create the conditions for technology to support social justice. This exploration is situated within a UKRI funded project that brings together communities, civil society, industry and academia to develop responses to social justice issues in technology design through a model designed for commissioning research. I discuss the opportunities and challenges that such model presents and outline directions for the future.

Attending ECSCW 2018 and new paper

This week, I am attending ECSCW 2018, the 16th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work: The International venue on Practice-centred computing and the Design of cooperation technologies, taking place in Nancy (France). I will also present a long paper, written with my colleague Ellie Lockley: “From Work to Life and Back Again: Examining the Digitally-Mediated Work/Life Practices of a Group of Knowledge Workers”. The work was made possible by an activity grant from the EPSRC Balance Network. You can follow the conference on Twitter using the #ECSCW hashtag.

“CultureLabs” has started!

As of April 1st 2018, a new exciting project has started: “CultureLabs” is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon2020 Framework Programme and will explore how culture and heritage can be instruments for social inclusion.

CultureLabs will develop a digital platform to support those heritage institutions such as libraries, museums and theatres who wish to work with communities from immigrant, refugees or migrant backgrounds to share cultural heritage and understanding. A quick description of the project’s aims can be found here.

Nine partners will work collaboratively across six countries and particularly on four case studies, two in Italy, one in Finland and one in the UK. This is a new approach to social engagement with new citizens and it’s about sharing information and culture both ways; with new residents learning the cultural heritages of their new homes and sharing information about their own history with their new communities. CultureLabs will support participation in culture and the primary focus will be on approaches that build positive awareness about communities’ own heritage and memories, and engage their members as bearers and producers of culture.

 The CultureLabs platform will be used to enable community participants to document, share and reconfigure their own cultural content. Digital technology will be used to create dialogue between communities and it will be designed with the end-users in mind.
The project’s official kick-off took place in Athens on April 12-13 2018, hosted by the project coordinating partner, the National Technical University of Athens. Other partners together with SHU are the European Forum for Migration Studies at the University of Bamberg (Germany), Singular Logic (industry, Greece), Platoniq (social enterprise, Spain), Fondazione Sistema Toscana and COOSS (cultural cooperatives, Italy), Museovirasto – The Finnish Heritage Agency (public heritage body, Finland), and the People’s History Museum (UK).

New article published

A new article, “On the perceptual aesthetics of interactive objects“, written with Alessandro Soranzo, Daniela Petrelli and John Reidy has been published (open access) in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. The paper is based on the recent project with colleagues in the Dept. of Psychology examining people’s reactions to manipulating interactive tangible objects. Another publication focusing on the tangible interaction side of the work can be found on the TEI 2016 proceedings.