Call for Papers

Deadline for abstract submissions: Friday January 10th, 2020. We welcome any inquiries about possible contributions. Please contact the special issue editors at ruralhci-editors@acm.org

45 percent of the world’s population—over 3 billion people—live in rural areas. Scholarship has begun to amplify the already innovative practices and opportunities of rural communities for HCI, while drawing out the uniqueness that defines rural spaces. For example, research on the role of social technologies for LGBTQ people living in rural towns, the Kenyan “camera men” who work in rural villages, agricultural experimentation and sociotechnical interventions in rural Taiwan, and hunters and small farmers in the Midwest reveal alternative relationships between people and technology. The urban bias of user-generated content on sites like Wikipedia, the creation of digital community boards in the rural UK, and the deployment of interactive voice forums for farmers in rural India demonstrate the need for unique technological interventions in rural communities. Overall, this research highlights characteristics of rural areas that make them ill-suited for technologies designed with the city in mind—sparse populations, limited internet bandwidth, practices in primary production environments (e.g., agriculture, forestry, fishing), and different modes of knowledge production/sharing.

Rural areas thus offer us novel insights on privacy, location, values, and space for imagining more diverse forms of information infrastructures and technologies. HCI can and is offering an important counter to popular media that often emphasizes the apparent helplessness of rural people in the face of complex sociopolitical and economic crises—whether it be about outmoded infrastructure, lack of jobs, and health crises. Such a counter aligns with the “cultural turn” in rural sociology, geography, and public health research that speak to “multiple” ruralities, the interconnectedness of urban and rural spaces, and the active enactment of rural identities.