Untold Stories at CHI 2018

3 minute read

On April 22nd 2018, we hosted our first Third Sector HCI Club workshop in the form of Untold Stories: Working with Third Sector Organisations at CHI 2018 in Montréal, Canada. Throughout the day we discussed many ethical, practical, and methodological concerns of working with, in, and for Third Sector Organisations at local, national, and international levels. In the morning, we built and reflected on ‘webs of research’ to make sense of the theoretical, practical, methodological, ethical, and other messes that are created when working with Third Sector Organisations. In the afternoon, we moved on to develop ‘symbols of good practice’ when working with Third Sector Organisations, which turned into a discussion of what a potential Good Practice Guidance document could include (which we collected via notes on a flipchart).

Here, we provide some information of the day including: our reasons for calling the workshop; some information about the attendees; and some images of the day’s events.

Workshop Purpose

Research collaborations are an important part of performing research in HCI, particularly when the research is situated in socio-culturally, or ethically complex and sensitive spaces. One way of addressing these topics is through the involvement of Third Sector Organisations (TSOs); a term used to describe a variety of Non-Profit enterprises, service providers, and movements that exist independently from Government and (for-profit) Private Enterprises.

Previous examples of collaborations between HCI researchers and TSOs include using open data to construct narratives to build a case for support for grant applications, or to explore volunteering support within organisations. Others have explored the ways in which charities function, exploring digital opportunities for transparency or supporting infrastructure requirements, whilst others have worked alongside TSOs to address larger research themes such as genocide awareness, de-colonising research and literature, and post-colonial discourses.

While HCI researchers have often called for a more nuanced discussion of the ethical, social, cultural, or other issues that arise when doing this kind of work, there are few publications that address the non-tangible concerns of working with the third sector. Within this workshop, we aimed to address these issues, focusing in particular on the ways in which this research impacts the TSOs we engage with, how the collaborations affect the research process and project as a whole, and how our engagement with this space shapes us as people, practitioners, and researchers.

You can download our original workshop proposal here for more detailed information.


The workshop proposal was co-authored by Angelika Strohmayer, Matthew Marshall, Nitya Verma, Chris Bopp, Róisín McNaney, Amy Voida, David S. Kirk, and Nic Bidwell.

On the day, the workshop was facilitated by Angelika Strohmayer, Róisín McNaney, Matthew Marshall, Nitya Verma, and Chris Bopp.

A group of both Academic and Third Sector workers from various parts of the world participated in the workshop. Participants submitted a short position statement before attending, which you can access below:

We were also super excited and pleased to welcome Lynn Dombrowski and Tashi Gyaltsen as impromptu additions to the workshop on the day!

Day’s Events

The workshop employed a creative format to encourage group reflection and discussion of topics amongst the participants and facilitators.

First, we mixed into groups to reflect on issues and build a complex web of our “untold stories” which incuded discussions of ethical conundrums, methods employed, processes, motivations, and outcomes of we experience in our work. Later, visited each others’ pieces and reflected on items raised as a collective.

Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001

After a spot of lunch, we then returned to take what we’d learned and create a Symbol of Good Practice. In order to stimulate variety, we broke into two large groups working separately on our own before returning to discuss each symbol individually and in relation to each other.

Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001

Finally, we reflected as a group on the day’s discussions and our own journeys. In true workshop style we wrote everything down on flipchart paper and took plenty of photographs.

Image 001 Image 001 Image 001 Image 001