︎ Motivation
Death is an inevitable part of being alive and involves a wide set of related practices that vary across cultures. Whilst death is in itself an event, both approaching end of life and grieving occur in the social sphere and involve experiences and practices that span a range of timeframes and relational forms of social connectedness.

Whilst HCI has paid the context of death some attention in recent years (to a large extent stimulated by Massimi et al’s CHI 2010 workshop [8] and paper [9]) active programs of research in this area remain in short supply. End of life and beyond has implication for almost all users of digital technologies, from the expression of future wishes and bequeathing of assets, to personal archiving and memorialisation of those who have died through digital content. Mainstream technology providers may have policies in place to address the eventualities the death of “customers”, however it is hard to imagine that end of life has in any way been part of the blueprint of the service design. Indeed, the lack of engagement of HCI and design researchers with ‘matters of life and death’ is mirrored by mainstream digital products and services, which largely ignore the deeper needs of people in relation to this crucial element of their personal and social lives.

While Massimi et al’s ground-breaking foray sought to articulate an HCI research for end of life by first mapping “questions concerning materiality and artefacts, social identities, temporality and methodologies”, their proposals for a design agenda were notably limited. Yet developments in technologies in the eight years that have followed (particularly in relation to algorithmic interaction and personal media) point to a far richer space for designing digital technologies for of end of life and beyond. Indeed, we are living in an age with unforeseen capabilities to make both physical and digital “things” and where each person’s life has an unavoidable associated trail of media and personal data. New opportunities to curate data and media to support others after our future death or to support ourselves in bereavement are substantial [14, 18] and the contexts of anticipating end of life and living with bereavement are changing as digital technologies become more embedded in our cultures [13, 15]. While it is easy to recognize that these opportunities for design are significant, and that the need is substantial and largely unaddressed, the barriers to working in a such sensitive context are perceived by many HCI researchers as overly daunting.

Working with people around topics of death, dying and bereavement requires both a level of sensitivity and self-reflection that will be new, and even intimidating, to many researchers. It is also an area that requires the examination of unfamiliar conceptual resources and new methods for both design and evaluation. Our contention is that the end of life, and beyond, is such an important aspect of personal and social experience that HCI has a responsibility to engage with it. On the one hand, we see this workshop as a rallying call to HCI and design researchers who are seeking to respond to the challenges of this sensitive domain. On the other hand, the workshop is an invitation to those in the wider HCI and design community with lived experience of death, dying and bereavement, who are prepared to step outside their familiar domains of expertise. Thus, the workshop will provide a time and place to bring together experts but will also provide an open and accepting environment for those for whom HCI at end of life and beyond is a new area of concern.