The Digital Fringe and Social Participation through Interaction Design


  • Luke Hespanhol The University of Sydney
  • Hilary Davis Swinburne University of Technology
  • Joel Fredericks University of Technology Sydney
  • Glenda Amayo Caldwell Queensland University of Technology
  • Marius Hoggenmüller The University of Sydney



 Digital inclusion and its implications for social participation is emerging as a key issue for researchers, designers, educators, industry and communities, as contemporary society shifts from top-down decision-making to a more inclusive process that collaborates with a variety of demographics. Yet, this shift tends to predominantly focus on mainstream communities of highly urbanised settlements, often neglecting segments of society that lack access to resources, digital technology or telecommunications infrastructure. Likewise, people from culturally diverse and marginalised backgrounds, or who are socially excluded, such as people living with disabilities, the elderly, disadvantaged youth and women, people identifying as LGBTQIA, refugees and migrants, Indigenous people and others, are particularly vulnerable to digital under-participation, thereby compounding disadvantage. This special issue presents practical, innovative, and sensitive design solutions to support digital participation for older adults, children with barriers to digital access and urban and regional fringe communities. The intention is to foster digital skills within and across communities, investigate the role of proxies in digital inclusion as an enabler of social interactions, and discuss design strategies and methods for sustaining digital inclusion to eliminate the dilemma of under-participation in the future.

Author Biographies

Luke Hespanhol, The University of Sydney

Luke Hespanhol is Lecturer and Researcher in Design and Computation at the Design Lab, School of Architecture Design and Planning, The University of Sydney. Email:

Hilary Davis, Swinburne University of Technology

Dr. Hilary Davis is a Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University of Technology and an Adjunct, Living with Disability Research Centre, LaTrobe University, Australia. Email:

Joel Fredericks, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Joel Fredericks is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow: School of Software, Faculty of Engineering and IT, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Email:

Glenda Amayo Caldwell, Queensland University of Technology

Dr Glenda Amayo Caldwell is the Associate Director of the QUT Design Lab and a Senior Lecturer in Architecture, School of Design, Creative Industries Faculty, Queensland University of Technology. Email:

Marius Hoggenmüller, The University of Sydney

Marius Hoggenmüller is a PhD Candidate at the Design Lab, School of Architecture, Design and Planning, The University of Sydney.






Special Issue: Designing Participation for the Digital Fringe