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Can possible futures be evaluated participatorily

Research in HCI is intimately future-oriented: we create prototypes of possible future uses, present design implications based on our findings, and develop methods that help us better reach desirable outcomes. My talk will build on our CHI2017 paper on evaluations of possible futures (https://doi.org/10.1145/3025453.3025658, open access). I start my talk by problematizing the lack of acknowledgement of future-orientedness in HCI research and suggest that especially prototype-based studies, be they in labs or in the wild, are essentially studies of possible futures in the present-day conditions. I will then address a common but often implicit assumption in evaluations: that they often follow the experimental design paradigm where researchers observe and the participants are those who are observed. Because of this, evaluations of possible futures may be hard to integrate in participatory design methodology where the role configurations between researchers and participants are more varied. I will conclude my talk with a discussion on how participatory evaluations of possible futures could nevertheless be organized.