Chair: Peter Wright, Newcastle University, UK
What Should We Expect From Research Through Design?
Contribution & Benefit: This essay characterises research through design theory as provisional and elaborative, and suggests annotated portfolios as a way forward. Will benefit those wishing to understand design's contribution to HCI.
Abstract » In this essay, I explore several facets of research through design in order to contribute to discussions about how the approach should develop. The essay has three parts. In the first, I review two influential theories from the Philosophy of Science to help reflect on the nature of design theory, concluding that research through design is likely to produce theories that are provisional, contingent, and aspirational. In the second part, I discuss three possible interpretations for the diversity of approaches to research through design, and suggest that this variation need not be seen as a sign of inadequate standards or a lack of cumulative progress in the field, but may be natural for a generative endeavour. In the final section, I suggest that, rather than aiming to develop increasingly comprehensive theories of design, practice based research might better view theory as annotation of realised design examples, and particularly portfolios of related pieces. Overall, I suggest that the design research community should be wary of impulses towards convergence and standardisation, and instead take pride in its aptitude for exploring and speculating, particularising and diversifying, and - especially - its ability to manifest the results in the form of new, conceptually rich artefacts.ACM
Sustainably Unpersuaded: How Persuasion Narrows our Vision of Sustainability
Contribution & Benefit: Critically analyzes persuasive technology as a modernist approach to solving social problems. Identifies structural limitations of persuasive technology as an approach to sustainability and offers alternatives.
Abstract » In this paper we provide a critical analysis of persuasive sustainability research from 2009-2011. Drawing on critical sociological theory of modernism, we argue that persuasion is based on a limited framing of sustainability, human behavior, and their interrelation-ship. This makes supporting sustainability easier, but leads to characteristic patterns of breakdown. We then detail problems that emerge from this narrowing of vision, such as how the framing of sustainability as the optimization of a simple metrics places technologies incorrectly as objective arbiters over complex issues of sustainability. We conclude by suggesting alternative approaches to move beyond these problems.ACM
Undesigning Technology: Considering the Negation of Design by Design
Contribution & Benefit: Motivates and develops the question: To what extent and in what ways should the intentional negation of technology be an acknowledged and legitimate area of design research activity within HCI?
Abstract » Motivated by substantive concerns with the limitations and negative effects of technology, this paper inquires into the negation of technology as an explicit and intentional aspect of design research within HCI. Building on theory from areas including philosophy and design theory, this paper articulates a theoretical framework for conceptualizing the intentional negation of technology (i.e., the undesign of technology), ranging from the inhibition of particular uses of technology to the total erasure or foreclosure of technology. The framework is then expanded upon to articulate additional areas of undesigning, including self-inhibition, exclusion, removal, replacement, restoration, and safeguarding. In conclusion a scheme is offered for addressing questions concerning the disciplinary scope of undesign in the context of HCI, along with suggestions for ways that undesigning may be more strongly incorporated within HCI research.ACM
Affordances in HCI: Toward a Mediated Action Perspective
Contribution & Benefit: Discusses analyses of affordances in HCI research and outlines a mediated action perspective on affordances as a relational property of a three-way interaction between the person, mediational means, and environment.
Abstract » Interpretations of the concept of "affordances" in HCI are becoming increasingly diverse, extending well beyond the original Gibsonian meaning. We discuss some of the key analyses of affordances in HCI research and make three related claims. First, we argue that many current interpretations of the concept are essentially incompatible with Gibson. Second, we hold that the Gibsonian concept of affordances, conceptualized as interaction between animals and their environments, provides some important insights, but is, in the end, of limited relevance to HCI research. Third, we call for adopting a mediated action perspective on affordances as an alternative to Gibson's ecological psychology. We outline a view of technology affordances as possibilities for human action mediated by cultural means conceived as a relational property of a three-way interaction between the person, mediational means, and environment. We conclude with a discussion of prospects for future conceptual and empirical explorations of the meditational perspective in HCI research.ACM