Opening Keynote Speaker

It is our pleasure to have Nicola Bidwell as Opening Keynote Speaker of MobileHCI 2020!

Nic Bidwell is known for her contributions in the periphery of Silicon Valley’s view of technology design. From the early 2000s, she was sensitized about the vital importance of diverse communication and knowledge practices, to HCI, by Aboriginal people in far north Australia. Since then, she has researched, mentored and/or taught in Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda, Indonesia, Argentina, Mexico, India and Ireland.

With her rural community collaborators, Nic received an international award for the contribution of their research to social and economic development. Living locally for over three years, her work set the stage for South Africa’s first village-owned not-for-profit Internet Service Provider. She has drawn on these experiences in mentoring community-networks in Namibia and studying the social and gender impacts of community networks elsewhere in the global south. Her insights have informed national and international policy discussions, such as at the Internet Governance Forums, United Nations Refugee Agency and World Wide Web Foundation. Bringing local decolonial perspectives into HCI’s frame is, for Nic,  active as much as it is theoretical. She initiated the first panel on Indigenous Led Digital Enterprise at a leading HCI forum, when she chaired OzCHI in Cairns in 2008, co-founded the African Human-Computer Interaction Conference (AfriCHI), when it was inaugurated in Nairobi, and has coached over 40 African researchers in between.

Nic’s commitments to locally co-generated research and innovation methods entwines with a lived appreciation of the politics of symbols and languages in technology design. Her ongoing work on offline community networks with Ju|’hoansi (San) people in the Kalahari desert, for instance, inspired a study on probabilistic AI systems driven by local predictive logics. Unlike most AI research, this study, with researchers from the Kahalari and Cambridge, attends to translations between onto-epistemological traditions. As well as collaborating on research about conditional programming and Blockchain for charitable donations, and on peer-to-peer technologies for community radio, Nic maintains relationships with indigenous research in Australia and elsewhere. She is one of two informatics researchers rated “internationally acclaimed” by South Africa’s National Research Foundation, has authored over 130 publications, edited several volumes, including a book on indigenous knowledge and technology, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of AI & Society. She is currently a researcher at the University of Cork and an adjunct Professor at the International University of Management, Namibia.