Hourcade, J.B. et al. HCI for Peace: Beyond Tie Dye. Interactions, September-October 2012. pp 40-47.

The article presents and idea of focusing (at least some of) HCI’s effort to concretely making world a better place. The primary aim of the authors is to reduce and prevent armed conflict. The article is not a research report but a description of emerging field of research.

The authors use many examples to show the impact and role of ICT in recent conflicts. In many of the examples the result has however not been a disappearing of threat of armed conflict. For example Arab Spring is used as the greatest example of the influence of ICT on politics. The reasoning behind using Arab Spring as an positive example is based on the idea that democracy is one of the key factors that reduce the likelihood of armed conflict. Promoting democracy is a political agenda and thus it is a bit odd that in the end of the article the authors seem to try to distance themselves from politics and even discuss the possibilities of naming the research field so that no political groups or institutions are alienated.

Since defining “a better place” is a political decision, the aim to avoid politics somewhat water down the message and possibilities for action. I agree on the aim of the authors but not on the strategy. HCI and UCD are filled with political agendas (particpatory design, eh?) but we lack on open discussions about them. HCI for peace could be one way to have such a discussion and in addition make the world a better place.

p.s. More information about the theme can be found from www.hciforpeace.org