Seventh Workshop on Computing within Limits
June 14-15 2021

About LIMITS 2021

The LIMITS workshop concerns the role of computing in human societies affected by real-world limits (ecological and otherwise). We seek to reshape the computing research agenda as topics that acknowledge a need for limits are seldom discussed in relation to contemporary computing research. LIMITS 2021 solicits submissions that move us closer towards computing systems that support diverse human and non-human lifeforms within thriving biospheres.

This year, LIMITS will be a virtual, distributed workshop.

Call For Papers

"We restate the question: can design be reoriented from its dependence on the marketplace toward creative experimentation with forms, concepts, territories, and materials, especially when appropriated by subaltern communities struggling to redefine their life projects in a mutually enhancing manner with the Earth?" --Escobar, 2018, p. xvii

LIMITS 2021 invites papers that respond to the question: "What is a LIMITS-aligned computing system?" We encourage authors to submit either a Hypothetical Systems paper or an Transitional Systems paper:

Hypothetical Systems: Applying or responding to ideas from earlier LIMITS workshops, propose a hypothetical computing system or artifact (either software, hardware, or some combination) that embodies LIMITS thinking. Who would use this system? Who might benefit from engaging with the system? Who might be harmed? How are the premises (conceptual or concrete) upon which the system is built different from our current computing systems? How does the LIMITS-informed system enact a different world or ways of being in the world?

Transitional Systems: Researchers and engineers, activists and concerned citizens, are (re)designing systems that acknowledge and address pressing ecological issues (e.g., severe droughts, flooding, wildfires, species extinction). A transitional systems paper concerns the (re)design, implementation, and/or evaluation of a real-world, contemporary, socio-technical computing system that responds--at least partially--to critiques or "implications for design" from earlier LIMITS papers or LIMITS-related scholarship (e.g., computing and sustainability, computing and social justice). All transitional systems papers should explicitly state how the system(s) described support LIMITS-aligned goals.

NOTE: We encourage authors to consider the stories they tell and reify through their work. As Constanza-Chock reminds us, "Stories have power". They continue to argue that, "(...) all technological innovation, is an interplay among complex sets of actors including users, developers, firms, universities, the state, and others, not a top-down process led by solitary programmer 'rock stars.' [...] "In other words, what stories are told about design problems, solutions, contexts, and outcome? Who gets to tell these stories? Who participates, who benefits, and who is harmed?" (p. 134)


Arturo Escobar. 2018. Designs for the pluriverse: radical interdependence, autonomy, and the making of worlds. Duke University Press, Durham.
Sasha Constanza-Chock. 2020. Design Justice: Community-led practices to build the worlds we need. MIT Press.

Important Dates

Abstract registration deadline: March 15, 2021, 11:59pm Pacific Time
Paper submission deadline: April 1, 2021, 11:59pm Pacific Time (grace period of a few days)
Paper reviews available: April 29, 2021
Camera ready deadline: May 15, 2021


Register and submit papers at this site. (If you have any issues with the submission site, please email

Papers should adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Papers should be in ACM double-column format, using the most recent template, but without ACM copyright information.
  • The main body text should use 9pt font.
  • The body of the paper should be a minimum of 5 pages and a maximum of 10 pages, with an unlimited number of pages allowed for references.

Reviewing will be non-blind; authors should include their names and contact information and reviews will include reviewer names.

All papers will be made freely available on the workshop website. Copyright will remain with the authors.


Program Committee

Oliver Bates, Lancaster University,
Eli Blevis, Indiana University,
Alan Borning, University of Washington,
Jay Chen, ICSI,
Elina Eriksson, KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
Kurtis Heimerl, University of Washington,
Neha Kumar, Georgia Tech,
Samuel Mann, Otago Polytechnic,
Bonnie Nardi, University of California - Irvine,
Lisa Nathan, University of British Columbia, (co-chair)
Teresa Cerratto Pargman, Stockholm University,
Vineet Pandey, Harvard University,
Birgit Penzenstadler, University of Gothenburg, Chalmers,
Barath Raghavan, USC, (co-chair)
Douglas Schuler, Evergreen State College,
Bill Tomlinson, University of California - Irvine,

Workshop Schedule

June 14, 2021


7am PDT / 2pm UTC LIMITS welcome
7:15am PDT / 2:15pm UTC Opening conversations
8am PDT / 3pm UTC Paper Session 1
Materiality Matters in Computing Education: A Duoethnography of Two Digital Logic Educators
Eric J. Mayhew, Elizabeth Patitsas (McGill University)
HCI’s Role in the Capitalocene - Lessons Learned from an HCI Master Course Across the Globe
Debora de Castro Leal, Max Krüger, Michael Ahmadi, Jason Appiah, Ricardo Andres Baquero Gómez, Daniel Courtney, Ata Daee, María Belén Giménez Ciciolli, Lena Hieber, Md Shakhawat Hossain, Jeongmin Lee, Ramona Plogmann, Liliana Savage Pinto, Sasmitha Sinnathurai, Ángela Darinka Yepez Fernádez, Volker Wulf (University of Siegen)
What do Computer Scientists Know About Conflict Minerals?
Inès Moreno, Elizabeth Patitsas, Peter McMahan (McGill University)
Stipulated Smartphones for Students: The Requirements of Modern Technology for Academia
Rob McGuinness, George Porter (UC San Diego)
9am PDT / 4pm UTC Reverse panel from Session 1 + Break Out
9:30am PDT / 4:30pm UTC Paper Session 2
How Sustainable is the Smart Farm?
Adam Streed (Institute for Digital Agriculture), Michael Kantar (University of Hawaii), Bill Tomlinson (UC Irvine), Barath Raghavan (USC)
A pluriverse of local worlds: a review of Computing within Limits related terminology and practices
Marloes de Valk (London South Bank University)
Circular digital devices: lessons about the social and planetary boundaries
Mireia Roura, David Franquesa, Leandro Navarro, Roc Meseguer (UPC)
10:15am PDT / 5:15pm UTC Reverse panel from Session 2 + Break Out
10:45am PDT / 5:45pm UTC Paper Session 3
Design Aspirations for Sustainable Energy Autarkic Information Systems in a Future with Limits
Brian Sutherland (University of Toronto)
‘This is a solar-powered website, which means it sometimes goes offline’: a design inquiry into degrowth and ICT
Roel Roscam Abbing (Malmö University)
Challenging the image of the altruistic and flexible household in the smart grid using design fiction
Sofie Nyström, Miriam Börjesson Rivera, Björn Hedin, Cecilia Katzeff, Arjun Rajendran Menon (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)
11:30am PDT / 6:30pm UTC Reverse panel from Session 3 + Break Out

June 15, 2021


7am PDT / 2pm UTC Day 2 welcome
7:15am PDT / 2:15pm UTC Paper Session 4
Who are we listening to? The inclusion of other-than-human participants in design
Rodrigo dos Santos, Michelle Kaczmarek, Saguna Shankar, Lisa P. Nathan (University of British Columbia)
On Beyond Wicked: Exploring the Uses of "Wicked Problems"
Douglas Schuler (The Evergreen State College)
Transitions by Methodology in Human-Wildlife Conflict: Reflections on Tech-based Reorganization of Social Practices
Margarita Grinko, Tanja Ertl, Konstantin Aal, Volker Wulf (University of Siegen)
When Borders Blur - Overcoming Political Limits with Computing in Truly Global Societies
Emmanuel Azuh Mensah, Sudheesh Singanamalla, Richard Anderson, Kurtis Heimerl (University of Washington)
8am PDT / 4pm UTC Reverse panel from Session 4 + Break Out
8:45am PDT / 4:45pm UTC Paper Session 5
The Pursuit of Essence: Realizing Expansion and Oneness by Limitation
Birgit Penzenstadler (Chalmers)
Design of an interdisciplinary evaluation method for multi-scaled sustainability of computer-based projects
Lou Grimal (Université de Technologie de Troyes); Nicolas Burger (R&D Department, Optimistik); Inès di Loreto, Nadège Troussier (Université de Technologie de Troyes)
Transition Discourse, Food, and Computing within Limits
David Hendry (University of Washington)
9:30am PDT / 5:30pm UTC Reverse panel from Session 5 + Break Out
10am PDT / 5pm UTC Discussion Sessions
10:45am PDT / 5:45pm UTC Wrap up / Future of LIMITS