Today in class, there were a lot of questions about the 6 evaluation activities (description, contextualization, clarification, elucidation, interpretation, and analysis). I was also pretty confused at parts and having a hard time wrapping my head about how they would work, particular in the context of HCI. While listening to the questions being asked in class and reading the blog discussions, I drew a strange parallel in my head that helped me think about these things.
I’m going to “stick my neck out” a bit since this is not the same way Carroll presented the content, but it might be a different way to think about them.

My research centers around divorce and the role technology plays in helping people cope logistically and emotionally. While doing some literature review on grief and coping, I came across some interesting articles pertaining to the concept of “grief stages”. Kuber-Ross has one of the most popular grief stages theories. She stated that as people grieved, they went through the following grief stages:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

When the first paper on this came out, people thought about these stages very linearly  For example. you and your partner break-up, so you grief the loss of that relationship. It was originally understood that you would deny the reality of your breakup, then be super angry, then you would start saying things like “if only I had done the dishes like s/he asked” or “if only I could grow 4 more inches s/he would find me so attractive they’d take me back!”, once you got through that phase you’d feel really depressed, and only once you were done being depressed, you’d feel better.

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Linear understanding of the stages of grief

Not too long after, there was a bunch of backlash against this. If you’ve been through a breakup (to stick with our grief example), you know that one day you can be so happy that you are single, followed by a day where you can’t stop crying. The next day you might start going through the bargaining stage but an hour later you get really angry. Similar arguments were made in the academic literature about that. In 2000 Kuber-Ross said, “Whoa guys, you got my paper all wrong. These aren’t linear stages, it’s just a framework.” A different way to think about these stages is something like this:

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Grief isn’t linear!

At any given time, you might fit in to just one of these stages during the process. Other times, you fit into more that one bubble, and there isn’t necessarily an order. You can be in a place where you’ve accepted your break up and feel like you’re starting to move on, then see your former partner is romantically involved with someone else and you can jump back to a different stage. It’s messy and there is no way to put these emotions into little boxes.

Back to Carroll

So, what does a break up have to do with Carroll? I’m not sure it exactly matches up but…

We drew some diagrams on the board to illustrate how we understood the 6 evaluation activities/categories today:

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This looks so serious

I think we had another one where analysis was actually up one level, too. Someone asked about how certain elements of our “kissing machine” activity could fit into more than one category, and that some of them seemed extremely similar. Also, since analysis was something that was holistically looking at an interaction, it was made up of all the others.

I kept picturing the two grief theory diagrams that Kuber-Ross talked about in her work. In lecture, I couldn’t help but think about Carroll’s evaluation concepts as a venn diagram. Description, contextualization, clarification, elucidation, and interpretation all overlap in many ways. They all inform each other and don’t exist independently in vacuums. Perhaps those 5 were the circles, and the center overlap of all of them mushed together was analysis:

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Evaluation in a non-hierarchical format

Any thoughts on this? Is this a different way we might understand the Carroll concepts?

  1. Kubler-Ross, E. and Kessler, D. 2007. On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. Scribner.
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