The Connected Home: The Future of Domestic Life

pp 237-266


Absence and Family Life: Understanding and Supporting Adaption to Change

  • William OdomAffiliated withCarnegie Mellon University
  • , Richard HarperAffiliated withMicrosoft Research Ltd.
  • , Abigail SellenAffiliated withMicrosoft Research
  • , Jodi ForlizziAffiliated withCarnegie Mellon University
  • , John ZimmermanAffiliated withCarnegie Mellon University
  • , Richard BanksAffiliated withMicrosoft Research
  • , Dave KirkAffiliated withUniversity of Nottingham

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What and who a family is, is continually changing. Family is a place, an ever changing set of social relationships, an evolving archive of precious artefacts and the actions collectively unfolding that bring all of these elements into meaningful cohesion. Over space and time familial structure shifts; it expands, contracts, solidifies and dissolves. As people grow older, family members may grow apart, move away, craft a new family with another spouse, or experience the loss of those that once were core to the family’s foundation. In any circumstances, and perhaps especially these, characterizing and understanding family life is complex. What is certain is significant and diverse work is done by a family to adapt to unfolding changes, and the practices and processes though which this work is achieved is partly constitutive of the evolving idea of family itself. While the ways members of a family personally and collectively work to adapt to unfolding changes are heterogeneous, it is clear that interactive technology is becoming a common part of the fabric of this kind of work.