Kids Design the Future  





The Interliving project brings together families and researchers in computer science, sociology and education with the goal of developing technologies that will encourage communication, collaboration and creativity. Researchers from The University of Maryland, The Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, Paris Sud University and Institute Nationale de Recherche en Informatique et Automatique in France have joined together to create new technologies that will support families in numerous ways.

We have recruited three extended families in Sweden (spread among seven households), three extended families in France (living in six households), and one extended family in United States (living in three households).  There have been five workshops with families in Sweden, France and the U.S.  There have been numerous visits to the different household that included video taping and in depth interviews.  These workshops and home visits have produced many artifacts for analysis.  The artifacts have ranged from maps of family communication patterns, to sketches which may be used to design future prototypes, to diaries.  We estimate that we have spent about 20 hours with the families in workshops, 25 hours in homes, and have over 100 artifacts for analysis at this time.

We have just begun to analyze the data obtained from the artifacts created by the seven families.  A set of codes has been developed to analyze the diaries.  The analysis of the Swedish diaries has been completed as well as a video summary of our findings.  This initial analysis shows several interesting trends.  One trend we found is that the families refer to technologies that support communication across distributed locations when they mention communicating or coordinating activities, in their diaries.  One such example is using a cellular phone to arrange a meeting.  When families discussed collaborative or social activities in their diaries they referred to technologies that support co-located communication such as sitting down to a meal together and talking.  Therefore, we believe that we will need to develop prototypes that support co-located and distance communication based on the needs of the families.

Another interesting trend we discovered through the analysis of the Swedish diaries involved the technologies mentioned by the families in their diaries.  We found that most discussions of technology referred to cellular and traditional telephones.  Use of computers, email and the internet came in a distant third after cellular and traditional telephones.  No references to technology came in fourth.  Technology was rarely mentioned in conjunction with social family gatherings.

We are continuing our work with families.  Currently, we are planning a workshop that will bring together the families from all three countries.  We also look forward to home visits where we can observe the families using the new technologies that we are in the process of creating together.  We are planning to  collect data from these home visits which we will use to refine the new technologies.


Browne, H., Bederson, B., Plaisant, C., Druin, A. (2001)
Designing an Interactive Message Board as a Technology Probe for Family Communication
HCIL-2001-20 , CS-TR-4284 , UMIACS-TR-2001-63