Month: December 2023

Celebrating One Year of HTO Research Group Blogging: A Recap

As the year ends and the holiday season is upon us, we want to take a moment to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! It’s been an incredible journey for the HTO Research Group blog, and as we celebrate one year of sharing our research insights and findings with you, we’d like to reflect on the events and articles we’ve covered over the past year.

In the past year, we have published 40 blog posts covering various topics in human-computer interaction, technology, and work environment. We’ve shared our research findings, insights, and experiences with you, our readers.

Highlights from the Past Year

Vision Seminars: Pioneering User-Centric IT Design

Our commitment to user-centric IT design was highlighted in a blog post by Åsa Cajander. She discussed the long-standing tradition of conducting Vision Seminars within our research projects, showcasing how this innovative approach has shaped our engagement with technology and work systems design.

AI for Humanity and Society 2023 Conference

In November, our blog covered the annual conference on “AI for Humanity and Society 2023 and Human Values” held in Malmö. Andreas Bergqvist provided an insightful recap of the conference, which featured three keynotes and panels addressing critical issues surrounding AI’s impact on society. The discussions delved into criticality, norms, and interdisciplinarity.

AI4Research Fellowship 2024

A significant milestone was achieved when Åsa Cajander announced her participation in the AI4Research Fellowship. This five-year initiative at Uppsala University aims to advance AI and machine learning research, and we are honored to be part of it.

Exciting New EDU-AI Project

We also announced the commencement of a new research project, the EDU-AI project, which explores the transformative impact of generative AI technologies on education. Starting in April 2024, this project will address critical issues related to digital workplace health and usability in IT systems.

Exploring the Future of Healthcare: Insights from MIE’2023 and VITALIS 2023

Sofia shared insights from two significant healthcare conferences, MIE’2023 and VITALIS 2023. The blog post explored the advancements and challenges in healthcare, focusing on AI’s role in shaping the future of healthcare.

Empowering People with Anxiety: Biofeedback-based Connected Health Interventions

Sofia explored the growing issue of anxiety in today’s fast-paced world and introduced biofeedback-based connected health interventions as a potential solution. The blog post highlighted the significance of connected health approaches in addressing anxiety.

TikTok – What is the Problem?

Lars addressed the concerns surrounding the social media platform TikTok, particularly from a security perspective. He discussed the potential dangers and implications of TikTok’s usage, emphasizing the need for awareness and caution.

Writing Retreat with the HTO Group

Rebecca Cort shared the HTO research group’s tradition of hosting writing retreats and discussed the importance of creating dedicated time and space for focused writing. The blog post highlighted the group’s commitment to productive research.

Insightful Publications

Throughout the year, we shared several research papers and publications, each providing valuable insights into various aspects of technology and its impact on our lives. From the effects of AI on work engagement to the challenges faced by caregivers of cancer patients, our research has covered a wide range of topics.

Looking Ahead

As we enter the new year, we are excited about the continued growth of the HTO Research Group blog. We have more research findings, insights, and events to share with you, and we look forward to engaging with our readers in meaningful discussions.

We wish you a joyous holiday season, and may the new year bring you happiness and discoveries.

Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year from the HTO Research Group!

HTO Coverage: AI for Humanity and Society 2023 and human values

Mid of November in Malmö, WASP-HS held its annual conference on how AI affects our lives as it becomes more and more entwined in our society. The conference consisted of three keynotes and panels on the topics of criticality, norms, and interdisciplinarity. This blog post will recap the conference based on my takeaways regarding how AI affects us and our lives. As a single post, it will be too short to capture everything that was said during the conference, but that was never the intention anyway. If you don’t want to read through this whole thing, my main takeaway was that we should not rely on the past through statistics and data with its biases to solve the problems of AI. Instead, we should, when facing future technology, consider what human values we want to protect and consider how that technology can be designed to help and empower these values.

The first keynote was on criticality and by Shannon Vallor. It discussed metaphors for AI, she argued for the metaphor of mirrors instead of the myth that media might portray it as. We know a lot about how AI work, it is not a mystery. AI is technology that reflects our values and what we put into it. When we look at it and see it as humane, it is because we are looking for our reflection. We are looking for us to be embodied in it and anything it does is built on the distortion of our data. Data that is biased and flawed, mirroring our systematic problems in society and its lack of representation. While this might give of an image of intelligence or empathy, that is just what it is: an image. There is no intelligence or empathy there. Only the prediction of what would appear empathical or intelligent. Vallor likened us to Narcissus, caught in the reflection of ourselves that we so flawedly built into the machine. Any algorithm or machine learning model will be more biased than the data it is built on as it draws towards the norms of biases in the data. We should sort out what our human morals are and take biases into account in any data we use. She is apparently releasing a book on the topic of the AI metaphor and I am at least curious to read it after hearing her keynote. Two of the points that Vallor ends on is that people on the internet usually have a lot to say about AI while knowing very little and that we need new educations which teach what is human-centered so that it does not get lost between the tech that is pushed.

The panel on criticality was held between Airi Lampinen, Amanda Lagerkvist, and Michael Strange. Some of the points that were raised related to that we shouldn’t rush technology, that reductionistic view of a lot of the industry will miss the larger societal problems, novelty is a risk, we should worry about what boxes we are put into, and what human values do we want to preserve from technology? Creating new technology just because we can is not the real reason, it is always done for someone. Who would we rather it was for? Society and humanity perhaps? The panelists argued it would be under the control of the market forces without interventions and stupid choices are made because they looked good at the time.

The second keynote on norms and values was by Sofia Ranchordas who discussed the clash between administrative law, which is about protecting individuals from the state, and digitalization and automation, which builds on statistics that hides individuals categorised into data and groups, and the need to rehumanize its regulation. Digitalization is designed for the tech-savvy man and not the average citizen. But it is not even the average citizen that needs these functions of society the most, it is the extremes and outliers and they are even further from being tech-savvy men. We need to account for these extremes, through human discretion, empathy, vulnerability, and forgiveness. Decision making systems can be fallible, but most won’t have the insight to see it. She ended on that we need to make sure that technology don’t increase the asymmetries of society.

The panel that followed consisted of Martin Berg, Katja De Vries, Katie Winkle, and Martin Ebers. The presentations of the participants raised topics such as why do people think AI is sentient and fall in the trap of antromorphism, that statistics cannot solve AI as they are built on different epistemologies and those that push it want algorythmic bias as they are the winners of the digital market, the practical implications of limits of robots available at the market to use in research, and the issues in how we assess risk in regulation. The following discussion included that law is more important than ethical guidelines for protecting basic rights and that it both too early to regulate and we don’t want technology to cause actual problems before we can regulate it. A big issue is also the question if we are regulating the rule-based systems we have today or the technological future of AI. It is also important to remember that not all research and implementation of AI is problematic, as lot of research into robotics and automation is for a better future.

The final keynote was by Sarah Cook and about the interdisciplinar junction between AI and art. It brought up a lot of different examples of projects in this intersection such as: Ben Hamm’s Catflap, ImageNet Roulette, Ian Cheng’s Bad Corgi, and Robots in Distress to highlight a few. One of the main points in the keynote was shown through Matthew Biederman’s A Generative Adversarial Network; generative AI is ever reliant on human input data as it implodes when endlessly being fed its own data.

The final panel was between Irina Shklovski, Barry Brown, Anne Kaun, and Kivanç Tatar. The discussion raised topics as questioning the need of disciplinarity and how you deal with conflicting epistemologies, the failures of interdisciplinarity as different disciplines rarely acknowledges each other, how do you deal with different expectations of contributions and methods when different fields met, and interdisciplinar work often ends up being social scientific. A lot of, or most work, in HCI tends to end up in some regard to be interdisciplinary. As an example from the author, Uppsala University has two different HCI research groups, one at the faculty of natural sciences and one at the faculty of social sciences, while neither fits perfectly in. The final discussion was on the complexities of how to deal with interdisciplinarity as a PhD student. It was interesting and thought-provoking, as a PhD student in a interdisciplinary field, to hear the panelists and audience members bringing up their personal experiences of such problems. I might get back to the topic in a couple of years when my studies draws to a close to forward the favour and tell others about my experiences so that others can learn from them as well.

Overall, it was an interesting conference highlighting the value of not forgetting what we value in humanity and what human values we want to protect in today’s digital and automated transformation.

Vision Seminars: Pioneering User-Centric IT Design

Our research has proudly upheld a long-standing tradition of conducting Vision Seminars within the scope of action research projects. This innovative approach, predominantly led by Bengt Sandblad, has significantly shaped how we engage with technology and work systems design. Niklas Hardenborg’s doctoral thesis further exemplifies our commitment to this approach, which delves deeply into designing work and IT systems through participatory processes, with a strong focus on usability and sustainability.

Over the years, we’ve produced an impressive array of studies and papers demonstrating the diversity and depth of our engagement with Vision Seminars. Our works, authored by researchers like Åsa Cajander, Marta Larusdottir, Thomas Lind, Magdalena Stadin, Mats Daniels, Robert McDermott, Simon Tschirner, Jan Gulliksen, Elina Eriksson, and Iordanis Kavathatzopoulos, span a wide range of topics. These range from in-depth explorations of user involvement in extensive IT projects, as seen in our latest publication on vision seminars called “Experiences of Extensive User Involvement through Vision Seminars in a Large IT Project,” to more focused case studies in areas such as university education administration and the development of train driver advisory systems for improved situational awareness.

A key theme that runs through our studies is the vital role of users in shaping the future of technology and work practices. Papers like “The Use of Scenarios in a Vision Seminar Process” and “Students Envisioning the Future” underscore the proactive role of participants in moulding future digital work environments. Our approach is distinctively collaborative, inviting various stakeholders to craft visions guiding user-centred systems’ evolution.

Our research extends beyond examining specific sectors or systems. It addresses the larger methodological and organizational changes necessary to enhance usability and the digital work environment. “User-centred systems design as organizational change,” by Gulliksen and others, is a prime example of this broader view, embedding user-centred design into the very fabric of organizational processes and culture.

In summary, our body of work contributes significantly to the field of Human-Computer Interaction and sets a benchmark in involving users in the technological design process. Through Vision Seminars, we continue to champion a participatory, user-centred approach in systems design, aiming to create more usable, sustainable, and future-oriented IT systems and work practices. This commitment cements our position as pioneers in the field, constantly pushing the boundaries of how user involvement can shape the technological landscape.

Some of our Research Papers
on Vision seminars

Cajander, Å., Larusdottir, M.,
Lind, T., & Stadin, M. (2023). Experiences of Extensive User Involvement
through Vision Seminars in a Large IT Project. Interacting with
, iwad046.

Cajander, Å., Sandblad, B., Lind, T., Daniels, M., & McDermott, R.
(2015). Vision Seminars and Administration of University Education–A Case
Study. Paper! Sessions!!, 29.

Lind, T., Cajander, Å., Björklund, A., & Sandblad, B. (2020, October).
The Use of Scenarios in a Vision Seminar Process: The Case of Students
Envisioning the Future of Study-Administration. In Proceedings of the
11th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Shaping Experiences,
Shaping Society
 (pp. 1-8).

Lind, T., Cajander, Å., Sandblad, B., Daniels, M., Lárusdóttir, M.,
McDermott, R., & Clear, T. (2016, October). Students envisioning the
future. In 2016 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (pp.
1-9). IEEE.

Cajander, Å., Sandblad, B., Lind, T., Daniels, M., & McDermott, R.
(2015). Vision Seminars and Administration of University Education–A Case
Study. Paper! Sessions!!, 29.

Tschirner, S., Andersson, A. W., & Sandblad, B. (2013). Designing train
driver advisory systems for situation awareness. Rail Human Factors:
Supporting reliability, safety and cost reduction. Taylor & Francis, London

Tschirner, S., Andersson, A. W., & Sandblad, B. (2013). Designing train
driver advisory systems for situation awareness. Rail Human Factors:
Supporting reliability, safety and cost reduction. Taylor & Francis, London

Gulliksen, J., Cajander, Å., Sandblad, B., Eriksson, E., &
Kavathatzopoulos, I. (2009). User-centred systems design as organizational
change: A longitudinal action research project to improve usability and the
computerized work environment in a public authority. International
Journal of Technology and Human Interaction (IJTHI)

Hardenborg, N. (2007). Designing work and IT systems: A
participatory process that supports usability and sustainability
dissertation, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis).

Hardenborg, N., & Sandblad, B. (2007). Vision Seminars–Perspectives on
Developing Future Sustainable IT Supported Work. Journal of Behaviour
& Information Technology, Taylor & Francis

Olsson, E., Johansson, N., Gulliksen, J., & Sandblad, B. (2005). A
participatory process supporting design of future work.

New Publication: Shaping the Future of IT Projects: Insights from Vision Seminars

In the ever-evolving world of information technology, understanding and incorporating user needs has never been more crucial. This is the crux of a study titled “Experiences of Extensive User Involvement through Vision Seminars in a Large IT Project,” authored by Åsa Cajander, Marta Larusdottir, Thomas Lind, and Magdalena Stadin. Their research delves into the impactful role of Vision Seminars (VS) in steering large IT projects towards success.

Information about the paper:
Cajander, Å., Larusdottir, M., Lind, T., & Stadin, M. (2023). Experiences of Extensive User Involvement through Vision Seminars in a Large IT Project. Interacting with Computers, iwad046.
Found here.

A New Approach to IT Development

The digital landscape is complex and demands methods that consider the full spectrum of the user’s work environment. The study by Cajander and her colleagues focuses on the Vision Seminar process, a method designed to address future technology use in intricate digital work settings. Read more here. This approach is not just about technology; it’s about understanding how people interact with these systems in their daily work lives.

Revelatory Findings

The research revealed several key insights:

  • User-Centric Success: Participants in the Vision Seminars reported a newfound holistic understanding of their work. This broader perspective led to the discovery of more effective methods of support.
  • Feasibility of Future Visions: The study highlighted the participants’ belief in the practicality and desirability of envisioned future IT systems.
  • Integration Challenges: A notable revelation was the difficulty of embedding user-centric methods in fast-paced software development environments.


The study’s mixed-methods approach, utilizing surveys and interviews, offered a rich, multi-dimensional understanding of the impact of Vision Seminars. This comprehensive method ensures robust findings and reflects diverse experiences and opinions.

Practical Applications for the Real World

What does this mean for the IT industry? The findings underscore the importance of involving users in developing IT systems. This involvement enhances user satisfaction and can also guide the direction of IT projects more effectively.

Addressing the Challenges

Despite the positive outcomes, the Vision Seminar process has challenges. The time and resources required for such extensive user involvement can pose significant difficulties in smaller or more technology-centric projects.

Concluding Thoughts

This study is crucial to our understanding of user involvement in IT development. It reinforces the notion that the future of IT systems must be shaped by those who use them, ensuring that technology serves people, not the other way around.


This research was made possible through the support of AFA.