The prayer companion : openness and specificity, materiality and spirituality

Gaver, William; Blythe, Mark; Boucher, Andy; Jarvis, Nadine; Bowers, John and Wright, Peter. 2010. 'The prayer companion : openness and specificity, materiality and spirituality'. In: 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI'10). Atlanta, Georgia, United Kingdom 10 - 15 Apr 2010. [Conference or Workshop Item]

Text (CHI Prayer Companion Paper)
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Abstract or Description

In this paper we describe the Prayer Companion, a device we developed as a resource for the spiritual activity of a group of cloistered nuns. The device displays a stream of information sourced from RSS news feeds and social networking sites to suggest possible topics for prayers. The nuns have engaged with the device enthusiastically over the first ten months of an ongoing deployment, and, notwithstanding some initial irritation with the balance of content, report that it plays a significant and continuing role in their prayer life. We discuss how we balanced specificity in the design with a degree of openness for interpretation to create a resource that the nuns could both understand and appropriate, describe the importance of materiality to the device’s successful adoption, consider its implications as a design for older people, and reflect on the example it provides of how computation may serve spirituality.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Design > Interaction Research Studio



Event Location:

Atlanta, Georgia, United Kingdom

Date range:

10 - 15 Apr 2010


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Date Deposited:

02 Nov 2010 15:51

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:29


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