The prayer companion: openness and specificity, materiality and spirituality

William Gaver, Mark Blythe, Andy Boucher, Nadine Jarvis, John Bowers, Peter Wright

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI '10
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Place of PublicationNew York, US
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781605589299
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventCHI 2010 (ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems) - Atlanta, Georgia
Duration: 4 Sept 2010 → …


ConferenceCHI 2010 (ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems)
Period4/09/10 → …

Research Group keywords

  • Interaction Research Studio

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