N. 18, Autumn 2013

Table of contentsAuthor index

This special issue intends to expand the discussion that took place during the International Workshop on Culture of Participation in the Digital Age - Empowering End Users to Improve their Quality of Life (CoPDA) held in June 10-13, 2013, during the IS-EUD 2013 conference at IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Cultures of participation are oriented towards providing end-users with the means to actively participate in problems that are personally meaningfully to them. An over-all aim of cultures of participation is to apply collective knowledge to address major problems that our societies are facing today. Although cultures of participation are not a novelty at this point, their maturity is still far away. On the one hand, there exist relevant problem-solving activities in which cultures of participation have been barely supported; on the other hand, in those domains in which cultures of participation are a reality, e.g. OSS development or Wiki-based environments, it is possible to identify a set of weaknesses, such as accumulation of irrelevant information, lack of coherent voices, or under/over consideration of some aspects of the problem (as an example, usability aspects in free software) to be solved, that hampers the achievement of suit-able solutions. Therefore, a fundamental challenge for supporting cultures of participation should be to conceptualize and create socio-technical environments that not only support participation but also promise quality solutions and valuable contributions oriented to achieve common goals.
The workshop focused on how ICT can have an impact on “quality of life”, promoting new ways of design that allow us to face these challenges. It brought together contributions from researchers from a diverse range of interdisciplinary fields. The aim was to establish a community of researchers and practitioners and facilitate the production of a coherent body of work related to this area.
Workshop participants remarked an important issue: as computers became affordable, new objectives emerged; how can computers be more usable, more useful, and more engaging not only for computer professionals but for all human beings? New concerns and new concepts emerged (such as digital literacy, digital divide, digital living, etc.) and it is difficult to frame almost all fundamental challenges (e.g.: education and learning, health, energy sustainability) outside of the context of ICT. Moreover, in this digital age we should think not only about efficiency and productivity, but also about how ICT can have an impact on the “quality of life”, promoting new ways of design that allow us to face these challenges.
In this special issue we document 5 papers that present socio-technical systems supporting cultures of participation in different domains that affect the quality of life in the digital age. Specifically, they bring together contributions from researchers from a diverse range of interdisciplinary fields, such as human-computer interaction, software engineering, artificial intelligence, computer supported cooperative work and cognitive psychology reporting interesting applications and studies in the field.
Jessica Schoffelen and Liesbeth Huybrechts provide an overview of instruments developed to generate documentation of hardware and software projects during the en-tire life of the product (design, realization and use). The authors well describe the literature in the 'documentation movement' through the presentation of different projects. Finally they describe the development of a documentation tool named MAP-it able to offer a solution for supporting collaborative documentation and motivational game principles. Final remarks assess the advantages of their own tool.
The paper by Stefano Valtolina, Michele Sciarabba, and Barbara Rita Barricelli describes CulturalWIKI framework, a wiki infrastructure for map-based information systems that, through an ontology, defines a semantic model able to minimize the problems of interdisciplinary communication by putting together cultural information from different data sources. Using map-oriented solution, the wiki is aimed at enabling intercultural collaboration and learning among all the stakeholders involved in cultural heritage projects. A living lab based on the use of the CulturalWiki framework is described and the results of evaluations are presented
In their paper, Massimo Deriu et al. explore the creation of effective learning environments for children. The researchers suggest that earlier explorations of learning technologies have focused largely on adults and a more direct study of the needs of children and adolescents is necessary. This paper explores developing interactive installations with children acting as co-designers through an ethnographic approach. Groups of children are observed using two educational technologies - BeGreen and FeelGood - designed to promote sustainability and energy conservation. Through direct and indirect observation (interviews) several findings are made that inform future iterations of these systems.
Alessio Malizia et al. present ERewinds, a software platform for collaborative story-telling creation and management to be used in case of emergency and National crisis. Author describe as this distributed model has proved to be helpful in accelerating the perception of what occurred, where it happened, and who needed help in recent disasters. This solution could be combined  with more official flows of information to make up a coherent big picture that support the needs of decision makers. This paper introduces a software approach conceived to convey stories created from different sources –official and unofficial- as a way of depicting situations in a collaborative manner.
Last, but not least, paper is by Aurélien Bénel, Pascal Salembier, and Jean-Pierrer Cahier in which they present a software architecture conceived to support collective design activities. Based on their experience, authors claim that cultures of participation greatly depend on social-technical systems that support them; consequently, it is mandatory to design specific technological platforms and frameworks that foster and empower participation.
These papers were chosen in a quality-oriented selection process in which each contribution was reviewed by at least two members of the Program Committee. We are grateful to the distinguished members of our Program Committee.
Finally, we would like to thank the organizers of the IS-EUD 2013 conference, for giving us the opportunity to organize the workshop.

David Díez Cebollero, Anders Mørch, Antonio Piccinno, Stefano Valtolina