fieldwork to a chance to expand
one’s area of expertise.
Third, researchers need to be
mindful of the fact that we come from
a privileged position and that our
worldview will not be applicable
every where. For instance, low
adoption of technology may not be
inherently negative. The ecosystem
for the residents of Dharavi seems to
be quite stable—people find a way to
work out solutions that work for them,
for example, remembering the shapes
of letters, paying bills at the local shop
(rather than online), and making and
receiving phone calls. What HCI
researchers, especially those working
for development and those with
rigidly technology-dominant notions
of progress, would describe as the
“problematic digital divide,” was
casually cast aside with laughter by
the parents in our field trip, as the
researchers explained to them the
“wonders” of ICT. Furthermore,
researchers require an understanding
of the local context for a sufficient
analysis of responses. When several
parents mentioned the low population
of sparrows or the fatal social dare
game, the researchers were quite
surprised. However, a quick check
revealed this information to be
propagated through the local news
and media, thus not necessarily an
outcome of living in Dharavi. This,
therefore, reflects on the parents’
being up to date with the local news
and information, quite possibly via
Finally, researchers need to move
away from the rigid notion of what it
means to design for development—
that is, designing for user needs .
Current design practices that focus
solely on user needs are unable to
support sustainable, scalable, or
impactful outcomes. The technology
is not always adopted in the long
term, after the study has ended and
the researchers have left [ 4, 5].
Kentaro Toyama [ 5] urges us to think
beyond designing for user needs,
because that model unknowingly
projects researcher or designer needs
onto users. Instead, one should focus
on designing for people’s aspirations.
For instance, in the field trip, the
different roles and backgrounds the
people brought in for those hours
converged on the experiences of
mothers across the world wanting
children to study more and play
videos games less—the influence of
technology in shaping our social lives
every day. Aspirations for the future
and experiences grounded in the
present were similar the world over.
HCI researchers, designers, and
practitioners, with varying domains
of expertise and level of fieldwork,
coming together, even for two hours,
and interacting directly with people
of so-called marginalized
communities, is the first step forward
to redefining design for development
and breaking misconceptions about
the urban poor [ 3].
1. Pal, J., Lakshmanan, M., and Toyama, K.
My child will be respected: Parental
perspectives on computers and education
in Rural India. Information Systems
Frontiers 11, 2 (2009), 129–144.
2. Joshi, A., Welankar, N., Naveen, B. L.,
Kanitkar, K., and Sheikh, R. Rangoli: A
visual phonebook for low-literate users.
Proc. of the 10th International Conference on
Human Computer Interaction with Mobile
Devices and Services. ACM, 2008,
3. Pal, J. The fallacy of good: Marginalized
populations as design motivation. ACM
Interactions 24, 5 (Sept.–Oct. 2017), 65–67.
4. Heeks, R. ICT4D 2.0: The next phase of
applying ICT for international
development. IEEE Computer 41, 6 (2008),
26–33. DOI: 10.1109/MC.2008.192.
5. Toyama, K. Design, needs, and aspirations
in international development. IFIP
Advances in Information and
Communication Technology 504 (2017).
6. Mumbai Population;
Sumita Sharma is a doctoral candidate at
the University of Tampere, Finland. Her
research work focuses on designing and
evaluating interactive educational applications
for underserved Indian children from
low-income urban households. This field trip is
a continuation of her work, which started in
New Delhi’s industrial area, Okhala.
Andreea I. Niculescu is an HCI expert at the
Institute for Infocomm Research, Singapore.
Her main interests are in user experience and
interaction design. Her work focuses on
designing interfaces for speech and
multimodal interactions, such as dialogue
systems, chatbots, and social robots for
different application areas.
DOI: 10.1145/3197573 © 2018 ACM 1072-5520/18/05 $15.00
Grace Eden studies human-centered
computing and conducts practice-based
research in interaction design and user
experience. She conducts empirical
research using a variety of qualitative
methods to identify requirements, improve
usefulness and usability, and identify
implications for how new technologies
transform social life, behavior,
communication practices, and interactions.
Gavin Sim is an expert in usability and user
experience evaluation with children, and is
part of the ChiCI Group, at the University of
Central Lancashire, U.K. His research
interests include the design and evaluation of
technology for children with a focus on
educational games and technology.
Dhvani Toprani is a doctoral candidate in
learning, design, and technology at the College
of Education, Pennsylvania State University.
Her research focuses on adapting diverse
educational technology with young children to
develop design thinking and collaboration. She
specializes in designing and instructing
informal learning environments that develop
Biju Thankachan is a doctoral candidate
at the University of Tampere. His research
focuses on designing, developing, and
evaluating text-free user interfaces for
low-literate users in India. His research
interests include HCI for development and
interactive and game-based mobile
applications for healthcare and education
for Indian users.
Janet C. Read’s work with children as users
of interactive technology helped to define a new
research field of child-computer interaction
(ChiCI). Her research group at the University of
Central Lancashire also looks at the design of
serious games with an emphasis on children in
Markku Turunen is the head of the master’s
program in human-technology interaction and
the Pervasive Interaction research group at the
University of Tampere. His research interests
include novel interaction techniques, interfaces
for people with special needs, and the user
experience of multimodal interaction for
industrial and healthcare settings.
Pekka Kallioniemi’s doctoral research
work at the University of Tampere concentrates
on wayfinding in virtual environments. His
research interests include interactive virtual
environments employing omnidirectional
videos and HCI for development, where he
developed mobile applications for farmers in
rural Karnataka and learning applications for
children in Delhi.