Workshop F

Food(ing): Between Human-Computer and Human-Food-Experience

  • Jaz Hee-jeong Choi, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, h.choi AT
  • Marcus Foth, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, m.foth AT
  • Shaun Lawson, University of Lincoln, UK, slawson AT
  • Tad Hirsch, Intel Research Labs, USA, tad.hirsch AT


This workshop is a continuation and extension to the successful past workshops exploring the intersection of food, technology, place, and people, namely 2009 OZCHI workshop, Hungry 24/7? HCI Design for Sustainable Food Culture and Sustainable Interaction with Food, Technology, and the City [1] and 2010 CHI panel Making Food, Producing Sustainability [3]. The workshop aims to bring together experts from diverse backgrounds including academia, government, industry, and non-for-profit organisations. It specifically aims to create a space for discussion and design of innovative approaches to understanding and cultivating sustainable food practices  via human-computer-interaction (HCI) as well as addressing the wider opportunities for the HCI community to engage with food as a key issue for sustainability The workshop addresses environmental, health, and social domains of sustainability in particular, by looking at various conceptual and design approaches in orchestrating sustainable interaction of people and food in and through dynamic techno-social networks.


Current systems of producing, distributing, and consuming food are increasingly under pressure. Population growth and growing global prosperity are driving up demand for foodstuffs around the world while global warming, water scarcity and environmental degradation threaten yields [2]. At the same time, reliance on increasingly complex distribution systems have rendered the global food supply impervious to oversight or regulation, leading to rising incidences of food-borne illnesses and consumer concerns about food safety [8].

These pressures come to a head in urban environments. The majority of the world’s population now lives in cities [5], which by their very nature must rely on extensive distribution networks to feed their citizens. It is no coincidence that the past several years have seen the rise of a number of urban-based food movements. For example, the locavore movement privileges eating seasonally appropriate foods produced in relatively close proximity. Locavorism builds upon an established tradition of urban agriculture that emphasizes producing and distributing food in and around cities. Urban agriculture encompasses a wide range of practices, from backyard and community gardens to peri-urban agricultural enterprises, and is practiced around the world.

Locavorism and other food-based social movements typically link environmental sustainability with economic and cultural concerns, arguing, for example that eating locally-produced, artisanal foods protects ecosystems, contributes to local economies, and sustains traditional ways of life. In so doing, they recognize food-related practices as a locus for pressing social issues, including several that have recently attracted the interest of the CHI community. For example, consider the impending obesity epidemic in the developed world: conventional educational initiatives such as the 5 A Day for Better Health in the USA and Change4Life in the UK have attempted to promote the benefits of healthier eating. Whilst there is evidence that these programmes have indeed raised awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthier diet, there is little evidence that such changes in awareness have lead to any significant improvement in dietary intake. A number of researchers in the HCI community (for example, [4, 5, 6]) are beginning to evaluate interactive systems designed to improve healthy attitudes to food but such work has so far not been strongly linked with sustainability.

This workshop aims to address this issue by developing conceptual and design approaches at the intersection of people, place, and technology in relation to sustainable food experiences, by bringing together expertise from various related fields of study including HCI, information technology, urban informatics, sociology, cultural, environment, and health studies. One of the main intended outcomes of the workshop is a special issue of a relevant international journal such as Food Studies and Interactions.

Format and Participation

The workshop functions as an open and active forum for an audience of up to 12 forward-thinking practitioners, designers, and scholars involved or interested in exploring innovative approaches to conceptualising and designing interactive technology to encourage sustainable HFI in the city. As such, we welcome contributions from those who may not currently be in fields that are directly related to food research. Interested participants should submit one-page position papers outlining their work, brief biographies, and what they would like to gain from the workshop, by 30 April 2011 to Dr Jaz Choi by email to h.choi AT Participants will be selected based on their expertise and to ensure overall disciplinary and geo-cultural diversity. The participants will have opportunities to present their work or cases of their interest, and participate in a series of collective workshop activities and discussions.


Jaz Hee-jeong Choi is an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow (Industry) at the Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation, QUT. Her research interests are in playful technology, particularly the ways in which various forms of playful interaction are designed, developed, and integrated in different cultural contexts. In her recently completed doctoral research, she developed a new conceptual approach to urban sustainability that recognises ‘play’ as the core of transformative interactions in cities as ubiquitous technosocial networks. Her current research explores designing and developing playful ubiquitous technologies to cultivate sustainable food culture in urban environments. She has collaborated with leading international researchers and published in books and journals across various disciplines. Her website is at

Marcus Foth is Associate Professor and Principal Research Fellow with the Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation, QUT, and team leader of the Urban Informatics Research Group. He received a QUT Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellowship (2009-2011), and a Smart Futures Fellowship from the Queensland State Government (2009-2011), co-sponsored by National ICT Australia (NICTA). He was awarded the inaugural Australian Business Foundation Research Fellowship on Innovation and Cultural Industries 2010 sponsored by the Aurora Foundation. He was an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellow (2006-2008), and a 2007 Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, UK. Dr Foth’s research explores human-computer interaction design and development at the intersection of people, place and technology with a focus on urban informatics, locative media and mobile applications. The high quality of his research work has attracted over $1.7M in national competitive grants and industry funding since 2006. Dr Foth has published over 70 articles in journals, edited books, and conference proceedings. He is the editor of the Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics (2009), and is currently co-editing the book “From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen” for MIT Press (2012). He is the conference chair of the 5th International Conference on Communities and Technologies 2011 in Brisbane. More information at

Shaun Lawson is a Reader in the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln in the UK and Director of the Lincoln Social Computing (LiSC) Research Centre. His research is focussed on the understanding of how, and why, people use and engage with social media, social games and other online and mobile applications. A particular focus his work is exploring how such social technologies can be used for serious purposes as well as entertainment. For instance, online communities connected through platforms such as Facebook have enormous untapped potential as platforms to raise awareness and transform behaviour across many health, sustainability and lifestyle issues in a today’s digital society. See for details.

Tad Hirsch is Senior Research Scientist with Intel’s Social Insights Lab. His research interests include designing for activism and civic engagement. He is currently investigating the use of computer games to facilitate public participation in environmental policymaking. Tad’s art and design work has been exhibited at major venues around the world, including ZKM (Karslruhe), Ars Electronica (Linz), The New Museum (New York), the Pompidou Center (Paris), and the New Millennium Museum (Beijing). He has been the recipient of several prestigious awards and commissions, including an Award of Distinction at Prix Ars Electronica 2000 and Rhizome Net Art Commissions in 2002 and 2006.


[1] Choi, J. H., Foth, M., Hearn, G. N., Blevis, E., & Hirsch, T., Hungry 24/7? HCI design for sustainable food culture workshop. Workshop at the OZCHI 2009. Retrieved from

[2] Food and Agriculture Organizataion of the United Nations, “How to Feed the World in 2050,” 2009;

[3] Hirsch, T., Sengers, P., Blevis, E., Beckwith, R., & Parikh, T. (2010). Making food, producing sustainability. Proc of the 28th of the international conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems.

[4] Grimes, A., Kantroo, V., Grinter, R.E. (2010) Let’s play!: mobile health games for adults. Proc of UbiComp 2010. pp.241-250.

[5] Linehan, C., Doughty, M. Lawson, S., Kirman, B., Olivier, P. and Moynihan, P. (2010) Tagliatelle: Collaborative Social Tagging to Encourage Healthier Eating. Proc of ACM Conf on Human Factors CHI 2010, Atlanta, ACM Press. pp. 3331-3336.

[6] Pollak, J. P., Gay, G., Byrne, S., Wagner, E., Retelny, D., & Humpfreys, L. (2010). It’s Time to Eat! Using Mobile Games to Promote Healthy Eating. IEEE Pervasive Computing. vol.9 no.3. pp. 21-27.

[7] UNFPA, State of World Population 2007: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth, U. N. P. Fund, United Nations Population Fund, 2007.

[8] World Health Organization, “Food Safety and Foodborne Illness”;


  • Jean Duruz and Kit MacFarlane, University of South Australia, Australia
  • Geremy Farr-Wharton, QUT, Australia
  • Anne Galloway, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • Ben Grubb, BrisPermablitz/QUT, Australia
  • Robert Imre, University of Newcastle, Austarlia
  • Jen Lofgren, QUT, Australia
  • Peter Lyle, QUT, Australia
  • David Wright, Keisuke Yoshida (Sapporo City University); Greg Hearn (QUT, Australia)
  • Grant Young (RMIT, Australia)