Summing up 2020 for the HTO group

This is our last blog post from the HTO group this year. We have had a good year in many different ways despite Covid-19. Looking back at 2020, the following things are particularly memorable and positive.

Before the pandemic, the railway team of the HTO group did field studies focused on the collaboration between train traffic controllers and information officers, working side by side in the control rooms for traffic control. This time, we were especially interested in understanding information officers’ work practices. They play an essential societal role by providing travellers with updated information about ongoing traffic situations. Based on this data collection, we have written two articles. We also attended and presented our research at five conferences this year. At the end of the year, the new empirical studies, together with previous studies on observations of the train traffic controllers’ work practices, resulted in new grants from the Swedish Transport Administration and an additional long-term agreement with basic research funding for developing excellence in the area of train traffic. The future looks bright with a lot of work awaiting. 

Magdalena Stadin defended her thesis ‘The digitalised work environment: Health, experiences and actions’ the 5th of June, and started her new employment in the HTO group a week later. Magdalena’s research focus is related to the digital work environment, primarily from a social and organisational perspective (technostress included). During the last semester, Stadins research focus has shifted from traditional digitalisation, to focus more on work environmental aspects related to artificial intelligence and robotics. Lately, Magdalena has mostly been working with literature reviews related to this area. Stadin has also repeatedly been invited to different media channels (podcast etc.) to discuss her research area. 

We participated in SciFest, and Lars Oestreicher showed some of the current possibilities with EEG-technologies to support people with impairments. Lars also participated in two UppTalk events, discussing Brain-Computer Interfaces and how New technologies can play an essential role in developing new or improved supportive tools. All Upptalk events can be found as recorded videos here: Arkiv – Upptech – Uppsala universitet (uu.se).

As a side project, Lars also initiated a close collaboration with the Department of Art History about analysing the more abstract and subtle content of images. This is not based on the superficial features, but concerns other properties, such as the images’ mood and agency. 

Ida Löscher showed her excellence and completed her thesis. She was lucky to have her dissertation with Catherine Burns as the opponent just before the Covid-19 pandemic struck us. Mikael Laaksoharju was also promoted to Associate Professor!! 

Working in collaboration with Japanese researchers, the team did a survey about attitudes toward AI. The study’s novelty is that it tries to capture whether, for instance, underlying beliefs, like animism, or exposure to certain portrayals of AI correlate with differing attitudes. Although the survey’s intention was not to compare nationalities, it does challenge the widespread belief that Japanese people are more favourable toward AI than people in “the west”. The distribution of attitudes in Japan and Sweden are similar, and respondents in both countries seem to worry to an equal extent about possible unemployment and other issues following from the deployment of AI.

We also did quite many health care studies, including one in 1177. For example, we wrote two book chapters to a new Medical Informatics book and one journal paper in the Quality and User Experience journal. We also presented papers at the ISHIMR conference, and one was about the usability of health care systems. Using the 1177 project results, we made the first versions of methods for analysing and evaluating digital work environments as a part of the STRIA project. The procedures were used in an interaction design course at Reykjavik University. Data was gathered on usage and possible improvement. Two students worked on analysing that data during the summer and autumn both in Reykjavik and Uppsala.  

The DISA project ended, and Minna is currently writing up our findings in a framework that sums up several aspects that need to be considered if digitalisation is to really support nurses’ daily work. We’ll present the framework at Vitalis in Gothenburg in the spring. Of course, you’ll also find it posted here. 

NordiCHI took place online this year. Several of us participated with papers and Marta Larusdottir, and Åsa Cajander were a part of the committee. 

We are a part of a large university, and we are also participating in different administrative and strategic work. Åsa Cajander became the adviser to the vice-chancellor on equal opportunities. Anders Arweström Jansson is now the head of the recruitment committee. 

Of course, we also had many adverse experiences such as the around 15 non-funded applications, papers that were rejected and Covid-19 stress and tough times.

In 2021 we are looking forward to our work with AI and the effects on the work environment. We are also excited to continue our work in the train traffic domain and the Japan-Sweden collaboration and the image analysis work. Hopefully, we’ll get several more great ideas to work on. We are also currently recruiting a senior HCI person and we are looking forward to meeting that person! Also, Rebecca Cort will defend her PhD!! 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our followers, and to our HTO alumni people! 

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