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18 June 2015

Un-Computing: Shaking off the 'Computer' Baggage

Location: Meeteing Room 10, 2nd Floor, JLB
Time: 12:30pm - 13:45pm
Speaker(s): Sarah Gallacher - UCL

I learned at an early stage in my computer science research career that when relatives and friends ask me what I do, I shouldn’t try to give them a literal explanation but instead keep it brief, answering with a few simple words...’computing’ or ‘computer science’. However, very often this is met with the response “Oh I don’t like computers, I can’t use them!”. My internal reaction is “Really? But don’t you own a smartphone and an iPad and a Pebble…etc”, (which they exhibit no issues with when fluidly video chatting, browsing, social networking or navigating around a city). What is interesting is how the modern form of a computer has become so hidden behind other form factors and consumer terms such as ‘phone’, ‘tablet’ and ‘watch’ that the term ‘computer’ has been left behind on the same shelf as the desktop PCs from what Weiser called the personal computing era. In a sense we are ‘un-computing’ - shaking off the computer term and all its baggage as an often challenging tool, and replacing it with other terms and familiar objects through which we engage, consume and entertain ourselves. In this talk I look further at ‘un-computing’ and discuss several of my recent works that fall under the realms of tangibles and IoT; two fields that are dramatically rethinking what a computer for the 21st century looks and acts like Bio: Dr Sarah Gallacher is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Computer Science at University College London. She joined UCL in early 2013 as a post-doc researcher within the Intel Collaborative Research Institute on Sustainable and Connected Cities (ICRI-Cities). Previously she achieved a MEng in Software Engineering in 2005 and a PhD in Computer Science in 2011 from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland. In parallel she worked on a number of EU projects within the field of Ubiquitous Computing. She is active in research dissemination having published over 40 papers in venues including CSCW, TEI, the Journal of Pervasive and Mobile Computing and ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems. She has also held committee positions for several conferences, including Mobiquitous, Urban IoT and AISB, and is currently guest editor on a special edition of the Journal of Interaction Design and Architectures (IxD&A). Current research interests focus on the emerging fields of Internet of Things (IoT) and Future Cities technologies. Particularly, how IoT initiatives can be deployed in urban environments for social good; to promote self or community reflection, social connectedness or opinion giving.

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Contact: mailto:paul.piwek@open.ac.uk