I&IC Workshop #1 at HEAD: “Soilless”, an ethnographic research

The first workshop in the project corresponds to a preliminary field research phase devoted to understanding people’s relationship with the Cloud. Given our ambition to revisit and explore alternative personal cloud systems, we find it important to investigate actual usage, problems, limits, experiences and situations related to the pervasive use of cloud computing.


Soilless – a research introduction and a field study from iiclouds.org design research on Vimeo.


Based on a series of user interviews and observations, we will address various issues related to this theme. Our aim is to have a sample of participants which practices have a certain diversity: nomadic workers, third-space users, musicians, VJs, journalists, etc. These interviews will be complemented by an analysis of on-line forums and groups focused on the discussion of cloud-related issues (Dropbox forums, blogs and social media messages discussing the limits and problems of these platforms, etc.).

I&IC workshop #1 at HEAD: literature

By Sunday, September 28, 2014 Tags: 0034, Ethnography, Research, Users Permalink 0

It seems that practices related to Cloud Computing are not so commonly investigated. Here’s a short list of papers about user research, sadly mostly focused on professional practices:

England, D., Randles, M., & Taleb-Bendiab, A. (2011). Designing interaction for the cloud. Proceeding CHI EA ’11 CHI ’11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2453-2456

Farnham, S.D., Turski, A., & Halai, S. (2012). Docs.com: Social file sharing in Facebook. In Proc. ICWSM 2012. Cambridge, MA: AAAI Press.

Marshall, C. & Tang, J.C. (2012). That syncing feeling: Early user experiences with the cloud, in Designing Interactive Systems (DIS) 2012, ACM, 11 June 2012.

Muller, M., Millen, D.R., & Feinberg, J. (2010). Patterns of usage in an enterprise file-sharing service: Publicizing, discovering, and telling the news. In Proceedings of CHI 2010. New York: ACM Press, pp. 763–766.

Rader, E. (2009). Yours, mine, and (not) ours: Social influences on group information repositories. In Proceedings of CHI 2009. New York: ACM Press, pp. 2095–2098.

Shami, N.S., Muller, M., & Millen, D. (2011). Browse and discover: Social file sharing in the enterprise. In Proc. CSCW 2011. New York: ACM Press, pp. 295–304.

Tang, J.C., Brubaker, J.C. & Marshall, C.C. (2013). What Do You See In The Cloud? Understanding the Cloud-Based User Experience through Practices, in Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2013, Springer, 2 September 2013.

Voida, A., Olson, J.S., & Olson, G.M. (2013). Turbulence in the clouds: Challenges of cloud-based information work. In Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2013). Paris, France, April 27–May 2. New York: ACM Press, pp. 2273-2282.

I&IC – Preliminary intentions


The following text was written as a description of our goals later in 2013, prior to the start of the project. The structure of the text follows the given guidelines. So to say, to get financing.

It is nonetheless a blueprint of what we intend to do and is published on the I&IC blog as a matter of documentation.


Inhabiting and Interfacing the Cloud(s)

An intredisciplinary design research project under the co-direction of Prof. Patrick Keller (ECAL) and Nicolas Nova (HEAD). With the support of HES-SO and the collaboration of ECAL, HEAD, EPFL (Prof. Dieter Dietz) and EPFL+ECAL Lab (Dir. Nicolas Henchoz).


This design research project explores the creation of counter-proposals to the current expression of “Cloud Computing”, particularly in its forms intended for private individuals and end users (“Personal Cloud”). It is to offer a critical appraisal of this “iconic” infrastructure of our modernity and its user interfaces, because to date their implementation has followed a logic chiefly of technical development, governed by the commercial interests of large corporations, and continues to be seen partly as a purely functional, centralized setup. However, the Personal Cloud holds a potential that is largely untapped in terms of design, novel uses and territorial strategies. Through its cross-disciplinary approach, our project aims at producing alternative models resulting from a more contemporary approach, notably factoring in the idea of creolization (Glissant, 1990). From a practical standpoint, the project is intended to produce speculative versions of the “Personal Cloud” in the form of prototypes (whether functional or otherwise) of new interfaces, data processing, reactive environments and communicating objects. To do this, the project will be built around three dimensions forming the relevant pillars of a cross-disciplinary approach: interaction design, the architectural and territorial dimension, and the ethnographic dimension.