Symbiotic encounters: HCI and sustainable agriculture

Szu Yu Liu, Shaowen Bardzell, Jeffrey Bardzell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

61 Scopus citations


Recent sustainable HCI research has advocated “working with nature” as a potentially efficacious alternative to human efforts to control it: yet it is less clear how to do so. We contribute to the theoretical aspect of this research by presenting an ethnographic study on alternative farming practices, in which the farm is not so much a system but an assemblage characterized by multiple systems or rationalities always evolving and changing. In them, relationships among species alternate between mutually beneficial in one moment (or season), and harmful in the next. If HCI is to participate in and to support working with nature, we believe that it will have to situate itself within such assemblages and temporalities. In this work, we look into nontraditional users (e.g., nonhumans) and emerging forms of uses (e.g., interactions between human and other species) to help open a design space for technological interventions. We offer three ethnographic accounts in which farmers—and ourselves as researchers—learn to notice, respond, and engage in symbiotic encounters with companion species and the living soil itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2019 - Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450359702
StatePublished - May 2 2019
Event2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2019 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: May 4 2019May 9 2019

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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