Examining Digital Sharing Practices in Outdoor Sports



Critical Review


Qualitative Interviews




While outdoor sport activities keep gaining popularity as part of a global trend to maintain a healthier lifestyle, current technology offers limited support for activity-specific needs. Despite an increasing number of dedicated sport tracking apps on our smartphones that allow us to record statistical and biometric parameters from our workouts and, subsequently, share them with family, friends, and other followers, it remains unclear if the available set of tracking parameters (e.g., an average speed, or calories burnt during a sports activity) is expressive enough when it comes to sharing in different sports. Therefore, a greater understanding of information sharing behaviors is necessary in order to build comprehensive, socially-embedded sports applications. 

To this purpose, in collaboration with three researchers from Italy, Sweden, and Germany, I engaged in analyzing a secondary data from interviews with 46 practitioners in three outdoor sports: trail running, climbing, and skiing. Note that, I have conducted a set of interviews with leisure skiers that contributed to this data corpus within another project. This qualitative study investigates how participants share information in the context of outdoor sports and how current technology supports this practice. Through thematic analysis, I derived five themes that describe the current information sharing practices: nature, risk and planning, content selection, audience selection, and privacy. 

Key learning points across these themes:

  1. designers should embrace the whole outdoor experience in their designs to minimize the risk of disrupting the holistic experience of practicing outdoor sports;

  2. there is an emergent need for systems that support planning and coordination prior to outdoor activities;

  3. there is a need for risk-management during the activity; 

  4. designers should provide support for the complex informal social constructs around outdoor sports practices;

  5. designers should develop strategies for helping practitioners to manage the content they share with different audiences. 

Based on these findings, this project presents five recommendations for design that can inform, inspire and refine future sharing technologies for outdoor sport.

Project in collaboration with Paweł Woźniak from University of Stuttgart (Germany), Eleonora Mencarini from University of Trento (Italy) and Kristina Knaving from University of Gothenburg (Sweden). 




Anton Fedosov, Eleonora Mencarini, Paweł Woźniak, Krisitna Knaving, Marc Langheinrich (2016) Towards understanding digital sharing practices in outdoor sports, Proceedings of the 2016 ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing Adjunct - UbiComp '16, p. 861-866, New York, New York, USA: ACM Press, url, doi:10.1145/2968219.2968537 pdf

Paweł W. Wozniak, Anton Fedosov, Eleonora Mencarini, Kristina Knaving (2017) Soil, Rock, and Snow: On Designing for Information Sharing in Outdoor Sports, Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems - DIS '17, p. 611-623, New York, New York, USA: ACM Press, url, doi:10.1145/3064663.3064741 pdf