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Interventionistic Participatory Design (IPC)

Contribution to the CSCW 2020 Workshop: Collective Organizing and Social Responsibility

Published onOct 14, 2020
Interventionistic Participatory Design (IPC)

Interventionistic Participatory Design (IPC)

Experience from many years of Involvement with the Computer Club Concept

By Konstantin Aal & Sarah Rüller

Information Systems and New Media, University of Siegen, Siegen, Germany; CRC 1187- Media of Cooperation (funded by the DFG)

[email protected]; [email protected]


With our background in socio-informatics [5], we concentrate on the human part when interacting with technology, digital tools and 'machines' in general. Therefore, research in the area of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is in its nature focused on the human and social part a design is made for. By following this approach, each of our projects is bottom-up and includes all relevant stakeholders (future user/participants/NGOs/community centres/Grassroot movements/Religious & Political actors) from the start. The amount of involvement of users or stakeholders from the field may vary drastically depending on the project, hence the term participation should be used carefully.


Our contribution addresses the goal of the workshop by presenting our computer club concept, which we established in the past years in two refugee camps and one village in Palestine (in addition: one in Morocco and several ones in Germany) [1–3]. With the establishment of the educational ICT intervention we offered meaningful interactions and were therefore welcomed in the very sensitive context of the refugee camps. By providing weekly sessions in the computer club with meaningful projects for the participants [4], we learned a lot about the inhabitants of the refugee camps and could also participate in a dialogue with them. If we further reflect upon the approach of establishing a meaningful intervention, it shows the potential of this approach: on the one side it provides access and trust but on the other side you can also “give something back” to the community you are doing research about. Over the last years, we could provide many new opportunities for the participants in the computer club: they had access to new technology to try out and gain new skills and they could exchange ideas with tutors who were university students and attended the computer club sessions [6]. Researchers from different disciplines often collect data and insights about sensitive topics and publish about this, while this is our “daily business”, it also has negative connotations.

The workshop provides a great opportunity to engage with other participants with a similar mindset focusing on common experiences to create a community.


  1. Aal, K., von Rekowski, T., Yerousis, G., Wulf, V. and Weibert, A. 2015. Bridging (Gender- Related) Barriers: A Comparative Study of Intercultural Computer Clubs. Proceedings of the Third Conference on GenderIT (New York, NY, USA, 2015), 17–23.

  2. Aal, K., Rüller, S., Holdermann, S., Tolmie, P., Rohde, M., Zillinger, M. and Wulf, V. 2018. Challenges of an Educational ICT Intervention: The Establishment of a MediaSpace in the High Atlas. International Reports on Socio-Informatics. 15, 2 (2018), 1–20.

  3. Rüller, S., Aal, K. and Holdermann, S. 2019. Reflections on a Design Case Study - (Educational) ICT Intervention with Imazighen in Morocco. Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Communities & Technologies - Transforming Communities - C&T ’19 (Vienna, Austria, 2019), 172–177.

  4. Weibert, A. and Wulf, V. 2010. “All of a sudden we had this dialogue...”: intercultural computer clubs’ contribution to sustainable integration. Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on Intercultural collaboration (2010), 93–102.

  5. Wulf, V., Pipek, V., Randall, D., Rohde, M., Schmidt, K. and Stevens, G. eds. 2018. Socio- informatics: a practice-based perspective on the design and use of IT artifacts. Oxford University Press.

  6. Yerousis, G., Aal, K., von Rekowski, T., Randall, D.W., Rohde, M. and Wulf, V. 2015. Computer-Enabled Project Spaces: Connecting with Palestinian Refugees Across Camp Boundaries. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (New York, NY, USA, 2015), 3749–3758.

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