Ubiquitous Computing and Interaction Winter 2013

The emergence of the “ubiquitous computing” paradigm in the late 1980s introduced a series of significant challenges for research and practice in human-computer interaction, by moving the locus of interaction from the person sitting at a desk in front of a PC to the person moving through a world suffused with devices and information. This has supported an expansion of HCI’s topics to include questions of spatiality, tangibility and experience. New theoretical understandings and new practical issues attend the design of ubiquitous applications, but also shed light on issues at play in traditional interaction models.

This class will survey classic and current research at the intersection of ubiquitous computing and interaction. We will begin with a mixture of lectures and discussions, with the emphasis on discussions of readings as the quarter moves along.

Grades will be based on participation in online and in-class discussion, and on a term paper due at the end of the quarter.


The primary reading for the class are from two books from Paul Dourish, one on his own entitled “Where the Action Is”, the other with Genevieve Bell from Intel, entitled “Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing.”

Other readings are drawn from research research literature, especially at the Ubicomp and CHI conferences, and will be made available online (see class schedule below).

There may be more reading than you’re used to. Make sure you give yourself enough time to read everything at least twice before the class sessions meet. You need to be familiar with the readings to participate adequately in class, which is a significant percentage of your grade, and I WILL BE TAKING NOTES on participation.

Weekly Discussions

Most of the quarter is structured around in-class discussions of readings (see schedule below). For each class, two students will be selected to lead the discussion. Everyone else should post a response to the readings online, due at 6PM the night before class. Your participation in discussions, online and in class, will count for 40% of your grade for the class.

Discussion responses should be posted on the discussion board on EEE. You can login using your UCINet ID.

Term Paper

The second component of your evaluation is a term paper. You may write these individually or in pairs. Term papers are typically around 5000 words, on any topic related to the subject of the class. Abstracts/topics for term papers are due at the end of week 4; drafts or outlines of papers are due at the end of week 7 (these drafts are not graded, but are an opportunity to get early feedback.)


The readings are stored on UCI’s webfiles service. To gain access, you will first need an activated UCINet ID, and then to register for a Webfiles account.

1/7 Introduction and course overview
1/9 Seminal ideas: Discussion
1/14 Foundations of Embodied Interaction
  • Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. Chapters 1, 2, & 3.
1/16 Foundations of Embodied Interaction (contd.)
  • Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. Chapters 4 & 5
1/21 No Class – Holiday
1/23 Embodied Experiences

Tim and Dahlia

  • Tolmie, P., Pycock, J., Diggins, T., MacLean, A., and Karsenty, A. 2002. Unremarkable Computing, Proc. ACM Conf. Human Factors in Computing Systems.
  • Benford, S., Crabtree, A., Flintham, M., Drozd, A., Anastasi, R., Paxton, M., Tandavinitj, N., Adams, M., and Row-Farr, J. 2006.Can You See Me Now, ACM Trans. Computer-Human Interaction;
1/28 Infrastructure

Sree and Parul

1/30 Mobility and Spatiality

Sree and Tim

  • Chapter 6: Mobility and Urbanism. From Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing.
  • Graham, S. 2005. Software-Sorted Geographies.Progress in Human Geography, 29(5), 562-580.
2/4 Location – Case Study

Sunny and Tao

2/6 Domestic Space

Tao and Tim

2/8 End of Week 5: Term paper topics due
2/11 No Class; Work on your term papers
2/13 Shaping Norms

Sree and Tao

2/18 No class — Holiday
2/20 Enquiring Ethnographically

Sunny and Dahlia

2/25 No class — Nice catch Tao :)
2/27 Critical and Cultural Perspectives

Sunny and Parul

3/1 End of Week 8: Term paper outlines/drafts due
3/4 Theory and Design


3/6 Ubicomp Progress Report

Dahlia and Parul

Both of these readings are linked to the ACM DL. If you are on campus (or on VPN to campus) you should be able to download them for free.

3/11 Term paper discussion
3/13 Making Futures


3/20 Term papers due (midnight. Pacific Time.)

Important Class Policies

If you are a student with a disability (e.g., physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) and think that you might need special assistance or a special accommodation in this class or any other class, please check out the Disability Center online or visit them in person at

100 Disability Services Center, Building 313
Irvine, CA 92697-5130

Counseling Center
If you find that personal problems, career indecision, study and time management difficulties, etc. are adversely impacting your successful progress at UCI, please check out the Counseling Center or Graduate Student Services.

Email is BY FAR the most reliable way to get in touch with me. Likewise, I will use your university email address for all communications. Please check this account on a regular basis. When you communicate with me please put Inf242 in the SUBJECT LINE.

Technology Requirements:
You need access to a personal computer (Mac or Windows) for major amounts of time for this course. You need Internet access for this course. You must be able to save word processing files in a .doc or .docx (Microsoft Word) or .pdf format for sharing and submitting files to the instructor. You are expected to have working knowledge and capability with your computer before entering this class.

Please submit all papers and materials (unless otherwise noted in the course schedule) through EEE or TurnItIn.com as noted in class. NO ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED BY EMAIL. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Class information and announcements will be communicated through EEE and through your UCI email address. To access EEE, you will need your UCI Net ID and password. If you do not know these, please contact OIT.

Plagiarism & Cheating:
Please read and heed the following information regarding academic dishonesty. The instructor cannot and will not tolerate academic dishonesty. For more information, refer to the UCI Student Handbook. The UCI campus policy on plagiarism can also be found on the Registrar’s website, under “Academic Honesty Policy”:http://www.senate.uci.edu/senateweb/default2.asp?active_page_id=754. If you choose to work with a partner on  your term paper, you will BOTH be held EQUALLY responsible for any plagiarism, regardless of who actually wrote what in the paper. Your reading reflections WILL BE CHECKED FOR PLAGIARISM. However, if you are leading discussion that week, you SHOULD use information posted by other students as part of their reflections in your discussion. You must in those cases note whose comment(s) you are using. The penalty for plagiarism is at a minimum to receive a 0 on the assignment and have the case reported to the Associate Dean’s office. Particularly flagrant cases may receive more severe punishment (notably failing the course).

What is cheating?
❑ Supplying or using work or answers that are not your own.
❑ Providing or accepting assistance with completing assignments or examinations.
❑ Faking data or results.
❑ Interfering in any way with someone else’s work.
❑ Stealing an examination or solution from the teacher.

What is plagiarism?
❑ Copying a paper from a source text without proper acknowledgment.
❑ Buying a paper from a research service or term paper mill.
❑ Turning in another student’s work with or without that student’s knowledge.
❑ Copying a paper from a source text without proper acknowledgment.
❑ Copying materials from a source text, supplying proper documentation, but leaving out quotation marks.
❑ Paraphrasing materials from a source text without appropriate documentation.
❑ Turning in a paper from a term paper website.

You should be on guard against plagiarism at all times.  At any time that you read anything in preparation for a paper or consciously recall anything that you have read or heard, you must be prepared to provide documentation.

Generally, when you use someone else’s ideas and/or words, you will either quote that person directly or you will paraphrase or summarize that person’s words. You must let the reader know which you are doing.
1. If you quote the source directly, you must
a. put quotation marks before and after that person’s words;
b. let the reader know the source by (1) putting a footnote or endnote number at the end of the quotation, or (2) putting at least the source’s name in parentheses after the quotation marks (such as when being taken from fieldwork).
2. If you paraphrase (a paraphrase is about the same length as the original, but in different words) or if you summarize (a summary is a severely shortened version of the original), you must
a. introduce the source in some manner at the beginning of the passage being paraphrased (or summarized) so that the reader can tell where your idea stops and the other person’s begins;
b. state the ideas taken from the source in your own words and your own arrangement. It is possible to plagiarize sentence patterns as well as exact words. A handy rule: if, in a paraphrase or summary, you use a stretch of more that three words in their exact order from a source, you should put those words into quotation marks;
c. provide an exact source citation for those ideas paraphrased or summarized. This may be done either by footnote/endnote number at the end of the passages or by parenthetical references to the work and page(s). This citation provides credit to the author being used and allows the reader access to the material for further study.
3. You must also provide a footnote for any chart, graph, figure, table, summary, or other data taken directly from another source or any information derived from such materials. You should also be sure to check copyright as to whether you are allowed to use this figure.

For example, the text here on plagiarism has been generously borrowed and slightly modified from the UTC Center for Advisement and Student Success. Likewise, the syllabus and course plan in use here are built on Paul Dourish’s previous offerings of this class.