Persuasion Workshop – British HCI (Lincoln)


The Minerva Building, where the conference was hosted.

The Minerva Building, where the conference was hosted.

I’ve just got back from the Persuasion Workshop at British HCI2015, hosted at Lincoln. Due to a number of personal reasons, this is the first conference that I have not been able to stay for the whole event, and its a real shame as its an interesting field, and Lincoln is a wonderful place to visit.

If you have never visited Lincoln I really recommend it, as it truly a stunning town. There are a few things worth seeing, some of the local architecture is really impressive with architecture that spans hundreds of years. Lincoln has had a settlement since iron age times, and was strategically important to the romans, so there the whole location is steeped in history and culture. Very much like Chester in some respects, it really has retained its “classic British” style, and preserved some amazing structures. I really recommend visiting the Cathedral, which is is the third largest in the UK, and was once the tallest building in the world. I argue that its one of the best ghexamples of English Gothic architecture in the country. It sits at the top of “Steep Hill” which is worthy of its name. I also recommend visiting the unfortunately named “Glory Hole” which is a canal boat tunnel under Lincoln high street. If you go down this canal far enough, you will eventually reach Boston, where you can access the sea (if you really wish to do that on a canal boat!).

Lincoln is also a big part of my own history. When I was younger my family used to navigate our boat up the canals from Nottingham once a year to Lincoln as part of our annual holiday. Some of my happiest memories are from those two week Cruses, stopping at various points of rural Britain along the way. In fact, when I was initially applying for university (in 2003) I applied to Lincoln. Had I chosen to go there, the plan was to drive my families boat up there, moor in the marina, and avoid paying for accommodation… to be honest, I just wanted to see if “do you want to see my boat” would be a successful pickup line… in retrospect, its probably for the best that we decided against this plan! As we sold the boat in 2005 I haven’t been back since, so I felt a little emotional, and nostalgic returning, as it brought back a lot of happy family memories.

Regarding the University, the venue was superb and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit. The Brayford pool site is a stunning, modern campus, with some really impressive buildings, and great student facilities. They also have a growing HCI group who were very hospitable hosts.

They also have these cool chairs that look like Dr Who's greatest enemy... the Daleks

They also have these cool chairs that look like Dr Who’s greatest enemy… the Daleks… the capus gets +50 cool points just for that!

Brayford Pool itself has changed significantly since I was last here. The warf has been completely rejuvenated  with a mix of trendy restaurants and the British waterways marina building has been converted into a Wagga Mammas (not sure how I feel about that one!). Its nice to see that in these times of Austerity Lincoln has invested in itself, and really updated the location.

I was here presenting our position paper on the use of Software agents as persuasive tools (the pre-print can be downloaded here). The workshop was really well organised by the team from Northumbria University, and the workshop exercises were really interesting. It was a great chance to share ideas on behaviour change with researchers from other universities.

But, unfortunately I had to leave strait after, due to the train schedule and the fact I needed to be back in Wales for the next day. It was a real shame, and I really would have stayed for longer if possible.

IMG_0537On the way back I my train went past Saxilby, home to the worlds greatest fish and Chips, and one of the places we used to moor our boat on the drive back to Nottingham…. But, I was on a schedule so I couldn’t stop for chips…. I’ll be honest, I almost cried.