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Should the use of “I” in our paper be used as sparingly as possible? Does it matter?

I can’t remember if this was brought up or not in class. I know certain sections of our paper, especially if we are adding in our own experiences, it would be necessary to have, but is there a general rule of thumb for this specific paper?



In the Barnard reading for today, on page 99, when talking about “practices” he says:

“A feminist approach to understanding visual culture, then, might consist in understanding it from the perspective of the user or consumer of design” (Barnard 99)

A line or two later after that comes..

“… it is a feminist gesture to insist on understanding design from a different perspective, that of the user or consumer of design” (Barnard 99).

My question is then, do we (or rather does the field of HCI) already look at design with a feminist approach? Our focus is constantly on the user/consumer. We are taught to take a user-centered approach in interaction design and experience design methods including role playing and body-storming allow designers to experience different perspectives when it comes to research.

I feel like throughout our classes we would have heard/focused/etc more on feminism since it already seems that HCI takes this approach… but then again maybe not?

Previously I posted my basic argument. Below I am now posting my outline. It’s rough, it’s messy, and it’s continually changing! Any and all feedback is of course welcome 😉

The Paper Outline

  • Introduction – cite jeff’s paper – interaction criticism – use to define “Interaction Criticism”
  • Deep Claim: The match between formal qualities and horizons of the hacker subculture showing why the hacker subculture uses IRC to interact with Botnets.
  • The hacker subculture using IRC to interact with Botnets can be understood using critical theories.
    • Define Critical Theories (Barnard? Specify)
  • Show the HCI community that individual or subculture interpretation is important when it comes to design because designs are used in different ways by different groups of people as shown using visual culture theories.
    • Define Interpretation?
    • Really hit on Hebdige here?
    • Define Horizons (Hebdige or Baxandall? Or someone else? Individual Theory)
    • Define Life-worlds (Hebdige or Baxandall? Or someone else? Individual Theory)
    • Discuss Horizons and Life-worlds
  • Formal qualities of the IRC protocol (as well as IRC clients) can be related to why the medium is used by the hacker subculture (in comparison to hackers using MSN messenger or another IM client).
    • Reintroduce the definition of formal qualities
    • Define style (Whose definition am I using? Structuralism)
    • Discuss form (structuralism)
    • Define and Discuss the formal qualities the IRC Protocol
    • Discuss expressionist theory in relation to why creators used the formal qualities that exist?
    • Define and Discuss the formal qualities commonly popular IRC clients
      • mIRC
        • GUI
        • colored background (default)
        • list of available IRC networks already (creator/expressionist)
      • irssi
        • command line based
        • UNIX/LINUX/Through SSH
        • list /commands
        • Allowing customization by Perl scripts
          • “Perl is one of the most used programming languages around the globe and integrating Perl into applications means flexible and powerful scripting capabilities. The entire behavior and appearence of Irssi can be modified within these Perl scripts. Irssi provides a script archive with many contributed Irssi scripts which provide both useful extra features and the required assistance to make your own scripts.” (
    • Discuss that IRC was created the way it was created (protocol and client) intentionally. It wasn’t by mistake or just out of the blue, the creators created the protocol and client with the qualities in mind that exist in it today.
  • Life worlds and horizons of different people or communities can be used to understand hackers interacting with IRC and Botnets (specifically using Baxandall’s three respects, but also drawing upon Hebdige and other theories).
    • Define and Discuss UNIX (Common)
    • Do an analytic understanding of UNIX, the environment and then apply it to hackers using IRC to interact with Botnets.
    • Link UNIX as a horizon/lifeworld relation as a REASON why hackers would use IRC (because of lots of computer experience and being introduced to “other” systems aka UNIX/Linux)
  • Incorporating my own experiences using IRC and the reasons I’ve used IRC over other IM clients, specifically why and with whom I’ve used the medium with.
    • Discuss how I’ve used IRC in the context of chatting with “hackers”
    • Discuss how I’ve used IRC in the context of creating my own Bot (NOT BOTNET!)
    • Discuss how I’ve used IRC in the context of downloading files?
    • Define SSL and darknets?
      • Discuss SSL and possibly darknets?
  • Incorporate Marxist Theories? Social Aspect?

Previously I’ve posted on Hackers using IRC to interact with Botnets and the relation between Baxandall’s three respects as explained by Barnard. Here I will lay out the basic argument of the work I have done for the pre-writing assignment.

I will be looking at the match between formal qualities and horizons of the hacker subculture showing why the hacker subculture uses IRC to interact with Botnets. I will show the HCI community that individual and subculture interpretation is important when it comes to design because designs are used in different ways by different groups of people shown using visual culture theories. As well formal qualities of the IRC protocol and IRC clients can be related to why the medium is used by the hacker subculture (especially in comparison to why they don’t use other chat/IM clients). Life worlds and horizons of different people and communities can be used to understand hackers interacting with IRC and Botnets specifically using Baxandall’s three respects, but also drawing on Hebdige and other theorists.

Finally, I would like to bring my own experiences into this since I have used IRC in the context of the hacker subculture (no, not controlling Botnets..). Is this relevant? Necessary? Would it be good to have? Worthless? Thoughts?

In my previous post I wrote about IRC and the use of Botnets by the hacker community in relation to only one of the three aspects described by Baxandall in the Barnard chapter, “Interpretation and the Individual”. In this post I will use the other two aspects to further discuss the relation between the three aspects and using IRC to control Botnets by the  hacker community.

Back to my previous post, I wrote only about the second aspect, so now I will go back to the first aspect and explain how I interpret the use of IRC and Botnets in relation to Baxandall’s three aspects “in which the horizons of individuals are likely to differ” (43).

The first aspect is,

“First, understanding a painting, picture or diagram requires that the interpreter understand the convention that marks, lines and shapes on a two-dimensional ground represent something in the world. An interpreter has to know that an image has ‘been made with the purpose of representing something’ (ibid.: 30)” (43).

Continuing on the next page,

“This is not a very complex requirement, but it is a requirement: it is something that a person must know, it is something that must be within their life-world” (44).

From this first aspect, I think that a normal IRC user would not understand the “convention” that represents a bot or Botnet. Hackers will use IRC as the medium to interact with the machines they control. You would need to know what a Botnet is and that it is different than a normal IRC bot. Unless you know how a Botnet works or the commands (specific to each individual Botnet) you are able to send, than you would not understand the conventions  needed to interact with a Botnet. You might be a user of IRC, but not in the context of controlling a Botnet.

The third aspect is,

“Thirdly, according to Baxandall, ‘one brings to the picture a mass of information and assumptions drawn from general experience’ (ibid.: 35)” (44).

The way I understand this aspect in relation to the interaction between the hacker community, IRC, and Botnets, is the fact that as a hacker you will have “general experience” coming from hacking elsewhere as well as an enormous amount of time concentrated on using and understanding computers. There are “presuppositions” (45) for hackers who already have horizons within their life-world that they can bring to the experience and use of interacting with Botnets through IRC. Even using IRC in a non-hacking way, can have an effect in the hackers’ use of the Botnet via IRC. For example, they might choose to use IRC as the medium to interact with the Botnet because they have used IRC before in other ways.

I feel like this stuff makes sense in my head, but when I put it on paper it feels alien…

In Barnard’s reading, he mentions about Baxandall’s:

“three respects in which the horizons of individuals are likely to differ” (43).

Is it okay to only take and use one of Baxandall’s aspects mentioned to apply it to an interaction? Is it necessary to use all three?

For example, I have been thinking about applying, specifically,

“The second set of beliefs and knowledges that a potential interpreter must possess consists in the ‘kinds of interpretative skill…that the mind brings’ to a picture or painting (ibid.: 34). Baxandall is thinking of the ‘patterns, categories, inferences [and] analogies’ that an interpreter can either see or not see in an image. If the interpreter does not possess a certain interpretative skill, then they will not be able to understand a painting in terms of that skill” (44).

to Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and computer hackers. For this example, I want to say that the hacker community have used IRC in ways of controlling “Botnets“.

From the link,

A Botnet is a collection of software agents, or robots, that run autonomously and automatically. The term is most commonly associated with malicious software, but it can also refer to a network of computers using distributed computing software.

Back to Baxandall, I want to use this theory as a lens to discuss how hackers use IRC to control Botnets where hackers have a “kind of interpretative skill” when it comes to the specific usage of controlling Botnets through IRC. IRC was not specifically created for the use of Botnets, that came later. If you are a non-hacker user using IRC you will not have the interpretative skill in order to understand how to use and control Botnets through IRC.

Is it valid to only construct this relation via one aspect of the three mentioned? Is it too narrow/focused/specific to use just one aspect? Would it be better to use all three?

NOTE: These questions are in context to the assignment not necessarily the blog.

Dunne mentions in the “Design as Text” section of (In)human Factors:

A ‘space’ of chains and layers of meaning between the object and the viewer, continuously expanding with no fixed origin or closure (36).

Writing and reading, the pre-and post-textual, are of equal value, and both writer and reader are required to exert an equal effort of imagination. Similarly, in the case of a design object as text, designer, and viewer play equal roles. This approach lends itself easily to electronic products, because their components can be freely arranged, unlike mechanical products where the arrangement of components is determined by technical constraints: (36)

Reading through this again I wanted to illustrate what I thought was an interesting example that I think fits this quote and that is Second Life. The big part I want to discuss is the bolded text because, quite literally, the designers created a world where the user (viewer) can create within that world. In a sense they end up “playing equal roles” where the user can create an infinite amount of unique objects and actions within the virtual world, a major point being that both the designer and user are creating. Further, because there is no “endgame” in Second Life, the user can continually create and interact with virtual objects and other people in an endless virtual environment where the constraints are limited only to what the game world does and does not offer.

Second Life Logo



After reading about the seven beauties of San Francisco, I MEAN SCIENCE FICTION, I immediately challenged it and was thinking, “Great. Here’s another reading about ‘something’ and I have no idea why we are reading this and how it applies to interaction design.”

Well, I’m going to try and apply (some of) the seven beauties to interaction design. Reflecting on this reading, I tried to think a bit more about HCI/d, what we do in class, what we learn in class and everything else that encompasses our study. As practitioners, we need to design for the future, possibly making science fiction reality, however, (I think) we do it on a much much smaller scale than what science fiction is really perceived to be. We try to design for five to ten years into the future.

Fictive neology:

“Readers of sf expect to encounter new words and other signs that indicate worlds changed from their own” (Csicsery-Ronay 5).

Since, in many cases, we are creating something new or even when enhancing something we will add a particular uniqueness to our artifact by naming and labeling it. For example, as a group project last year in one class, our group created a prototype of a scavenger/treasure hunt game we called “Seekaboo”. A non-existent term which we brought into the world as real.

Fictive novums:

“The concept of the novum, introduced in sf studies by Darko Suvin, refers to a historically unprecedented and unpredicted “new thing” that intervenes in the routine coures of social life and changes the trajectory of history” (Csicsery-Ronay 5).

I think this one is more obvious than others because of the fact that in many cases we end up creating new artifacts from our designs. (Facebook? Military drones?)

Future history:

“Although sf need not always be set in the future, the genre is inherently future-oriented” (Csicsery-Ronay 6).

WOW, we as designers are extremely future oriented because of the simple fact that we ARE designing for the future, but more importantly we explicitly focus on designing for the future (hence 5+ years).

Imaginary Science: Skipping. More below.

Science-fictional sublime:

“Of all contemporary genres, sf is the one most expected to evoke the experience of the sublime” (Csicsery-Ronay 6).

Seriously, just take a look at the iPhone, which took the world by storm. The iPhone pretty much redefined the role of the mobile phone

Science-fictional grotesque: Skipping. More below.

The technologiade: Skipping. More below.

Okay, so I only took a few of the seven beauties because the ones I skipped I probably didn’t fully understand it enough to relate it to HCI. I would like to hear what others have to say about this and if it is even appropriate to use the seven beauties of science fiction in relation to HCI. I think some of these really do connect and make sense when looking at what we do. Thoughts? Comments?

Also, did anyone else keep reading San Francisco when they saw “sf”?

In light of Jeff’s post, I’m going to take one of the bullet points and offer my relation to HCI. Here goes..

In the section on Wolfflinn, Barnard says that “Style is the constancy, or consistency, in the way an individual, or a group, treats the formal elements of art or visual culture.”

“Are there any interactions created by individuals or groups that treat the formal elements of interfaces or interactions in a constant way? (Apple, perhaps?) What do we get by attempting to describe interactions in terms of style?”

Assuming I’m understanding this correctly, yes Apple and the way they design their sleek simple looking hardware to even the packaging is all created in a constant way. This especially makes it easy to identify their products in the wild. We can even go as far to describe the advertisements for the ipod and iphone when they first came out as simple, which was probably designed with the overall experience in mind.

Another example that comes to mind is Microsoft Office. The ribbon at the top of word, excel, powerpoint, etc is designed pretty much the same. The content is obviously different depending on the specific program, but keeping the same style throughout will have different effects on the interaction with the user. For one, users had to conform to a new style that was consistent across all applications. Secondly, though, and more important probably for MS, people can now easily recognize an if Microsoft Office is being used or some other office because of the unique style the ribbon introduces.

One final thought I have is that as I was writing this post I realized that style can move away from interaction design and into a experience design. Apple, again, created a product, advertisement, and packaging that fit very well together and followed the same style of being simple, sleek, and cool. This really turned it into an experience for the end user.

First, I will say that I have a rather sad infatuation with Lady Gaga. I’m not sure if it’s because I use to call my grandmother “gaga” when I was younger, her music is catchy, she dresses in … well I’m really not sure how to describe her fashion, or that she is just a badass. I think all the above. I also have my phone set up to play one of her songs when I receive a text message and a different Lady Gaga song plays when I receive a BBM (Blackberry Messenger Message). I definitely love her music and of course, I don’t know why.

For the life of me I have no freaking clue what the hell her music videos are supposed to represent in conjunction with her music – if anything, because seriously they could be just nonsense, right? From Collingwood and “proper art” can we call this “art” (assuming it is an expression of her emotions – at least in character) even if we have no clue how to understand it?

Side note: To be fair, I really have been itching to post something involving Lady Gaga. I may try again at a later date.