Field Trip in Mumbai (INTERACT 2017)

Last year, I attended the INTERACT conference in Mumbai (India). The main conference was held from September 27-29, but during two days before the conference, field trips and workshops took place. The conference was extremely well organised and I am very glad that I could attend, listen to interesting talks, present our own paper, and meet so many kind and open people who do extremely interesting research.


INTERACT is a biennial conference and is organised by the Technical Committee on Human–Computer Interaction (IFIP TC13) of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP). IFIP is a non-governmental umbrella organisation of national societies working in the field of Information technology. IFIP is organised through technical commitees; TC13 is the committee on Human-Computer Interaction and consists of serveral working groups. Last year’s INTERACT conference was the 16th conference; the previous one took place 2015 in Bamberg (Germany). INTERACT in Bamberg was my first international conference, where I presented a paper on the use of online reviews in the design process and how they can help designers to take the perspective of future users1.

This year, I gave a presentation on “Using Critical Incidents in Workshops to Inform eHealth Design”. This paper is based on the workshop we conducted at NordiCHI 2016 and was written together with some of the organisers and participants2. Practitioners, researchers and patients were invited to contribute with a critical incident related to eHealth services for patients and relatives. We accepted five critical incidents, of which three focussed on the patient perspective and two on the developer’s perspective. You can find the critical incidents submitted and analysed in the workshop here.

Field Trip

It was the first time, that researchers could propose field trips for the INTERACT conference. Unfortunately, the deadline for registrating one’s interest to take part in the field trip was before I was notified that our paper was accepted. I therefore assumed that participation was not possible any more. Luckily, the organiser of one field trip, Arne Berger, saw on Twitter, that I was attending the conference. As there was still a free spot, he asked me whether I was interested in joining one day. Excellent opportunity indeed!

The field trip Understanding The Informal Support Networks Of Older Adults in India aimed to get a nuanced view on older adults’ practices of receiving from and providing support to peers, family, friends, and neighbors. It was a two-day fieldtrip, however, I only attended on Monday. We were split into two groups and I was forming a group together with Dhaval Vyas (Queensland University of Technology) and Antonella De Angeli (University of Trento). We conducted two interviews during the day. The couple we interviewed first felt more comfortable speaking in Hindi, so Dhaval interviewed them, and every now and then translated his question and/or their answers in English. That was a really interesting experience and Dhaval did a great job also including us by translating what has been said. Of course, this was not always possible, because this would have disturbed the flow of the conversation. Something I noticed during our visit was that the idea of “older people receiving support” was challenged: This couple was not receiving support from their family in that sense. Instead, they were providing tremendous support for their children by taking care of the grandkids.

Woman playing chess on her iPad

The second interview took place in the afternoon, where we met an 85 year old woman, who had worked as a teacher until she was 80 years old. She felt comfortable speaking English, so all of us could ask her questions. I found her to be very inspiring and positive; it was a great pleasure talking to her and learning how she goes about her day. For example, she likes playing chess on the iPad and, according to her son, her memory has improved since she does this. Every evening, she meets with a couple of her female friends outside the house, where they all sit on the bench, enjoy each other’s company, and watch the grandkids play. We were invited to join her when she was meeting her friends right after the interview, which was really nice. In the main picture to this post, you can see me showing the women the polaroid camera as it was printing the picture I had taken of them.

Reflections in Interactions Journal

In the current issues of the Interactions journal, Arne and Dhaval3. wrote an article on our field trip: “A personal perspective on the value of cross-cultural fieldwork”. The researchers that participated in the field trip were invited to share some reflections on the field trip by answering a question. My main reflection was related to the women who meet every evening:

When a group of women shared one of their practices with us, it dawned on me: Maybe there is no technology or design needed after all? (…) These women sitting on their bench, chatting and laughing, watching their grandkids running around and playing – it just did not seem as if they needed technological support for their network.


Parts of this post originally appeared in a slightly different form on the Health, Technology & Organisation (HTO) Research Group Blog.


  1. Grünloh C., Walldius Å., Hartmann G., Gulliksen J. (2015) Using Online Reviews as Narratives to Evoke Designer’s Empathy. In: Abascal J., Barbosa S., Fetter M., Gross T., Palanque P., Winckler M. (eds) Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2015. INTERACT 2015. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9296. Springer, Cham
  2. Grünloh C. Hallewell Haslwanter J. D., Kane B., Lee, E., Lind, T., Moll, J., Rexhepi, H., Scandurra, I. (2017) Using Critical Incidents in Workshops to Inform eHealth Design. In: Bernhaupt R., Dalvi G., Joshi A., K. Balkrishan D., O’Neill J., Winckler M. (eds) Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2017. INTERACT 2017. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 10513. Springer, Cham
  3. Berger, A., Vyas, D. (2018) A personal perspective on the value of cross-cultural fieldwork. Interactions 25, 3 (April 2018), 61-65.
Fieldwork, Human-Computer Interaction, Publication
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