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Achieving positive experiences in human-food interaction design


Human-food interaction

  • “Experience is a stream of feelings, thoughts and action; a continuous commentary on our current state of affairs.” [Hassenzahl]
  • “Experience” isn’t something that is experienced only during special moments like seeing a special exhibit at the museum, attending a party, going to an amusement park for a day, etc. [Nardi]
  • It is something that is a part of one’s normal life.
  • Something else is that is a part of our daily experiences is technology.
  • As McCarthy and Wright say, “We don’t just use or admire technology; we live with it… technology is deeply embedded in our ordinary everyday experience.” [McCarthy]

o   We use computers and cellphones everyday. Even if one scorns those technologies, we are surrounded by many ubiquitous technologies such as lights, cars, even the zipper on your clothes. Most likely, there is some sort of technology in your life that you are interacting with.

  •  “…our interactions with technology can involve emotions, values, ideals, intentions, and strong feelings.” [McCarthy]

o   This results in some sort of experience.

  • Something else that is important in our everyday lives is food.
  • Food isn’t just for nutrition to keep us alive. It also a huge social factor.
  • As Comber said, “Food is, and always will be, something that connects people together and which has the potential to inspire and engage us in new and exciting experiences.” [Rob Comber]
  • “Food-related behaviors respond to a complex of situational factors and choices that people make in these steps are neither always consistent (microwave dinner on one day, elaborate meal at the weekend), nor easy to understand.” [Comber et al]
  •  “Various physical, social, cognitive and physiological factors have to be considered when designing for what we grow, eat and throw away. These factors are influenced by our own values, social norms, culture and socio- demographic backgrounds.” [Comber et al]
  • “Given the importance of food in our daily lives [along with technology], it seems equally important to understand what role technology currently plays with regard to food and indeed what roles it can be imagined to play in the future.” [Grimes et al]
  • This is the space of human-food interaction. This is a design challenge for interaction designers and the HCI community.
  • In this space, food and technology is brought together to create an experience.
  • Currently there is a focus on corrective technologies [Grimes et al], which are designed to correct some sort of problem.
  • There should also be a focus on the more neglected path of celebratory technologies [Grimes et al], which focuses on creating positive experiences with their interactions with food and technology.
  • This paper will quickly introduce the space of corrective technologies and celebratory technologies.
  • It will follow by the exploration of two projects with the goal of achieving the creation of a celebratory technology: Food Media/CoDine and The Telematic Dinner Party. It is a look at their designs and their process to see whether or not a successful celebratory technology was created.
  • Finally, the paper will give a prescription of one way to achieve positive experience within the human-food interaction space.


  • Many HCI researchers in the field are focused on fixing problems.
  • They “sought to examine how technology might alter human-food interaction… uncertainty would be turned into certainty, inexperience into aptitude.” [Grimes et al]
  • This is what Grimes et al calls, “corrective technologies insofar as they attempt to fix undesirable behaviors.” [Grimes et al]
  • “That work which has been done has focused primarily on the problems that people have planning meals and preparing and consuming food.” [Grimes et al]

o   Examples:

o   “Kalas supports decision making by allowing users to leverage information such as others’ recipe choices, comments and ratings as they decide which recipe to choose.” [Grimes et al]

o   “Cook’s Collage captures a visual record of cooking activity and thus if the cook is interrupted he or she can view this record and be reminded of what step in the cooking process they have reached.” [Grimes et al]

o   “…U-kitchen system, smart devices communicate with each other and share the context via a kitchen server, including RFID tags in appliances so the system can identify appliances being used, and ubiquitous services which help the user with the grocery management, cooking and give healthy dining advice.” (CoDine)

o   “The Ambient Kitchen integrates data projectors, cameras, RFID tags and readers, object mounted accelerometers, and under-floor pressure sensing, to construct a supportive environment for food planning, preparation and cooking.” (CoDine)

o   “Playful Tray is embedded with an interactive game play over a weight-sensitive tray surface, to recognize and track the natural eating actions of children in real time, thus the children’s eating actions are used as game inputs for reducing their poor eating behaviours.” (Food Media)

  • Has element of playfulness but it is still there to correct behavior
  • But food isn’t just about the corrective experience.
  • “Socially, food is something that brings people together – individuals interact through and around it.” – Andrea Grimes
  • …points to the possibility and necessity to see technology and design interventions in this space as more than simply corrective.”  – Rob Comber
  • “…HCI community can begin to imagine another, much neglected path of research: one in which individuals’ current experiences with food are seen not as undesirable, but as positive, productive, even delightful. “ [Grimes et al]
  • “We certainly agree that individuals do encounter problems in their interactions with food, but…they enjoy their food, relish the practice of making it, and above all celebrate the sharing of it.” – Andrea Grimes et al
  • Human-food interaction should design for this positive experience.
  • Grimes et al calls this, “celebratory technology; technology that celebrates the positive and successful aspects of human behavior.” – Andrea Grimes et al
  • “By drawing from social science research on how people live with, consume, and conceive of food, we come to suggest six positive aspects of human-food interaction that can be designed for… creativity, pleasure and nostalgia, gifting, family connectedness, trend-seeking behaviors, and relaxation.”  – Andrea Grimes et al
  • I’ll explain each section
  • This is a framework that can be used to look at design, help design for positive experience
  • Many designers in this space are beginning to emphasize this positive experience in their design.
    • Examples:
    • “NetPot takes on the challenge of creating a communal cooking experience for remotely located participants. This project recognizes that the sensory experience is impoverished in mediated group experiences. The traditional communal nature of cooking around a Chinese hotpot is incorporated with gaming.” (Barden)
    • “The Netpot brought the focus of the participants on the pot for cooking.” (Barden)
    • LiveForm: Telekinetic projects (Barden)
    • “They performed a telematic dinner party between Amsterdam, Netherlands and Toronto, Canada.” (Barden)
    • “The dinner was comprised of interactive devices: networked wine glasses, saltshakers, and tabletop video projections.” (Barden)
    • “While this performance was situated around food, it was more of a celebration of the technological feats than an attempt at supporting the guests in sharing a dining experience.” (Barden)
    • “‘Mamagoto’ is an interactive and context-aware dining system which encourages small children to “play” with food, using their curiosity towards food to expand their sensory experience while eating.” (Food Media)

Projects that want to design for experience (Critiques if they succeeded or not, why)

  • Now I will present two projects with goals of designing “celebratory technology”.

o   Food Media/CoDine

o   Telematic Dinner

  • Both want to achieve playfulness, connectedness, and an experience with their amazing show of technology but with varying degrees of success.

o   Project’s goal, how match 6 positive aspects of HFI

o   Project’s process

o   Did they achieve goal?

o   If not why? [mostly because of process, they didn’t allow for the design of experience before the technology was made]

Food Media/CoDine is concepted as a celebratory tech but fails at it through the process of its creation (celebratory framework eval throughout, look at process to see why did or did not achieve)

  • What is this
  • Goal: how much of 6 positive aspects they want to achieve
  • Process
  • “Food Media” is “an intuitive multimodal interaction platform to engage remote people into social communication and entertainment within the telepresent family dinner context.” – Jun Wei et al
  • “…CoDine system, a dining table embedded with interactive subsystems that augment and transport the experience of communal family dining to create a sense of coexistence among remote family members.” – Jun Wei et al
  • “CoDine connects people in different locations through shared dining activities: gesture-based screen interaction, mutual food serving, ambient pictures on an animated tablecloth, and the transportation of edible messages.” – Jun Wei et al
  • “Rather than focusing on functionality or efficiency, CoDine aims to provide people with an engaging interactive dining experience through enriched multi-sensory communication.” – Jun Wei et al
  • They are two different papers about the same design
  • They want to create an experience with their prototype but their process was not best way to design for experience
  • Reasons why: prototype, test prototype, assume target audience will feel the way they want them to feel, next step is user study to make sure they feel the way they feel (lots of quotes and annoyed critiques about this)
  • “Compared to interacting in a virtual environment, we believe these physical movements of plates or cups physically on dining table convey more delicate human emotions and stronger feeling of warmth, which contributes to the enhanced sense of co-presence when user take the served dish from their remote dining partner, even though they do not share the same physical dining table.” – Jun Wei et al [My comments: They did not test this on their audience to see if they really do think this, it is them speculating.]
  • [prototype first than see if your users will feel the way you want them to feel, they built elaborate hi-fi prototype, how much are you willing to change if people don’t feel the way you want to? Does not acknowledge others.] “While we have conducted prototype tests during the implementation to verify the CoDine modules function, our next step is a user study to assess whether CoDine enhances engagement between fellow co-diners.” – Jun Wei et al
  • [the design is not everyday habit, design not shown how people react to it in home] “Our research explores how interaction with familiar but intelligent everyday environment and artefacts can be used to enhance meaningful interactions in dining situation, going beyond ambient sensing and computing, to the level of subconscious connection between human beings.” – Jun Wei et al
  • [more features = people feel more connected, that is what this says to me] “In the future, more interaction channels can be included to increase the feelings of connectedness, awareness and playfulness, to enhance the shared social entertainment experience beyond verbal or video communication.” – Jun Wei et al
  • Why didn’t actually achieve “celebratory design”

Telematic Dinner Party is a celebratory tech but still lacked some experience they wanted to achieve (celebratory framework eval throughout, look at process to see why did or did not achieve)

  • What is this
  • Goal: how much of 6 positive aspects they want to achieve
  • Process
  • Both of these designs are critique through the lens of design experience
  • Both, the technology should be mediators to bring diners and family members closer to each other
  • “Here we consider, among the others, the creativity, togetherness, pleasure and playfulness, associated with food and mealtime.” – Pollie Barden et al
  • “The Telematic Dinner Party (TDP) aims to support remote guests in experiencing a sense of togetherness, and playfulness and sharing in a dinner party.” – Pollie Barden et al
  • Their process better than above
  • They tested with their audience
  • They held activities with audience to see if they get the goal experience
  • They were iterative: traditional dinner party, pilot study, hi-fi prototype
  • Still found issues with experience and how people felt with prototype that they have to address
  • They built it all but some experience they wanted to achieve didn’t work
  • “Our observations of the TDPs and guest feedback indicate that the social structure is central in creating a sense of social presence between participants, and that this cannot be achieved by the quality of the technology platform alone.” – Pollie Barden et al
  • Why closer on track than previous design, Why still off

To get the experience right, the process needs to focus on the experience and getting that right first before the technology.

  • “Human-food interaction requires much more attention to the people and the ways in which they engage with food than efficiencies and novelties new technologies may provide.”  – Rob Comber

There are many ways of achieving this but I would like to propose the usage of achieving positive experience through low-fidelity prototypes first before creating high-fidelity prototypes.

o   Sketches, low-fidelity paper prototypes are low cost

o   If it fails, it is easy to change something quickly and test again

o   Sometimes if the features look too complete or work too much like a final product, further ideation and changes to the design will be less likely to happen

o   It doesn’t have to be used only for testing usability, this can also test what kinds of experience your user will have

o   Since the focus should not be emphasized on the technology, it is the concept that makes the experience and that is what we should test

o   The low-fidelity prototype can be used to simulate, make sure people are having the positive

Example of a process that used low-fidelity prototype to achieve positive experience: Food Journey (Capstone): a way to design for experience first

  • Want to “support relationship-building activities and extend them to distant dining situations… support [couple] bonding, communication, and social togetherness.” (CoDine, 23) Minus the remote participants
    • See how people act together collocated first before remote
  • What: design for the experience
    • Focus on the positive experience instead of technology
  • Tech mediator

o   aim for overall positive experience

o   make sure it is there before higher fidelity

o   couples are unique and will interact and respond different

  • Why: technology is just the mediator [unremarkable computing (Grimes)]
  • Concept

o   people grow up with different preferences and tastes

o   relationship together

  • bring their backgrounds together
  • possible to explore their preferences together
  • try new things
  • fun experience together

o   Food Journey helps initiate this experience to bring two people closer together [celebratory technology]

  • 6 postive aspects
  • don’t know where journey take them
  • aim, prompt conversation, expand horizons, develop positive food practice
  • Five parts: exploration, Adventure: The Hunt, Adventure: Create, Adventure: Eat, Keeper
  • How: low fidelity prototype, paper prototype with post its

o   simulate the journey

o   so far with three young couples (various status, various pickiness and control)

  • young couple already use smart devices like smartphone on regular basis

o   Allow focus on how couple interact with each other and engage with activities, how felt throughout the experience

o   Less focus on technology breakdown

o   Next step would be higher fidelity prototype to look at UI


Jeff’s last class had me reflecting on how my capstone has touched and shaped me. Over the course of this semester I have noticed more and more accessibility devices that focus only on the functionality aesthetic. This class has increasingly given me a harsh look on the technologies available to people with disabilities. I’ve taken this harsh look because these technologies separate people who do not ‘need’ these technologies from those that do. If these technologies were more desirable, perhaps they would not even be viewed as technologies for the disabled, but just good design that works well for people with disabilities? Even so, there some technologies that most people without a specific disability may never need. For example a prosthetic leg. This harsh look which will be evident in my paper as I use video game controllers as a lens to focus on this idea. Before this capstone and interaction culture I did not have these thoughts and it feels very fresh bit also very daunting at the same time. I’m not really where to with this blog post at the moment and I may come back to it later.

This is the skeleton of my outline of what I want to talk about in my paper:

Human food interaction require Third Wave/Experience Design

Framework [Celebratory]

  • Positive experiences

Projects that want to design for experience

Food Media/CoDine

  • Goal with experiences
  • What they did wrong

Telematic Dinner Party

  • What they did better
  • What they still did wrong

Inform future experience design for Human food interaction

Food Journey (Capstone Process)

  • Focus on the experience people have
  • Low fidelity/simulation to get the positive experience before build high fidelity prototype

Hey everyone, I’m in the process of working through the draft of my argument for my paper, and would love to get some feedback. This is all very rough, so feel free to ask for clarification on anything that doesn’t make sense. As a point of reference, I plan to take the ultimate findings from the process of writing this paper (namely the schema and/or persuasive patterns I uncover from my research) to inform the latter half of my capstone project on Dark Patterns.


Transactional trust towards a charity is earned over time, not inherently given, and is a byproduct of interactions that occur within the context of a user’s donation experience. (THE WHAT)

  • Trust is built through the fulfillment of promises. This includes the promises you’ve actually made to someone explicitly (e.g., contracts and commitments) as well promises that that are assumed or implicit (e.g., “this website isn’t selling my data”). (van Gorp and Adams, p107)
  • Principle of Earned Credibility: Credibility can be strengthened over time if computing technology performs consistently in accordance with the user’s expectations. (Fogg, p137)
  • The building and maintenance of transactional trust should be considered a pivotal stepping stone to increased donation compliance within an online donating framework. Instead of considering trust and donation compliance as mutually exclusive concepts, commercially driven issues of donation generation should be considered alongside the psychological concept of transactional trust. (Burt, C.D. and Gibbons, S. p192)

The trailing of charity websites to adopt modern e-commerce practices, coupled with the rapid rise of moral commodification of charitable giving has resulted in a unique set of problems of persuasion with respect to interface design. (THE WHY)

  • [G]iving to charity has been characterised as ‘the monetary purchase of moral satisfaction’ undertaken for the egoistic reason of wanting to feel better…The gift conveys a symbolic statement about the person that fits in with his or her self-identify. (Bennett, p120)
  • Overall the findings indicated that there was a lack of strategic intent to harness the potential of online social networks and evidence that charities are not mirroring the adoption of digital media that has occurred in the external environment in which they operate (Slater et al., 2010). There exists a lack of consumer orientation because charities have not embraced digital communications to the same extent as either their target audiences or for-profit based businesses. (Quinton and Fennemore, pp 44-45)
  • In the USA, internet donations for tsunami relief in 2004 accounted for more than a third of the total amount raised. Half of all the donations received following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 were given online (NFG, 2006). It follows from the above that charity managers have become increasingly interested in the website designs and online fundraising tactics that are most likely to maximise the frequencies and levels of online donations. (Bennett, p117)
  • …[I]t is recognized by some (but perhaps not all) that charities are not businesses and therefore reading across and imposing private sector governance frameworks to the charity sector may not be appropriate, and indeed may be counter-productive. (Hyndman and Jones, p153)
  • A needs-based change, animated through a problem-solving approach, assumes that the right outcome is known from the start…Desire is the destabilizing trigger for transformational change, which facilitates the emergence of new possibilities and realizations of human “being.” (Nelson and Stolterman, p110)

A semiotic analysis of the design patterns used in charity websites will yield greater insight into their functions of address, and how the emotive modalities of a website (i.e. its interactivity) can establish a relationship between the donor and the charity. (THE HOW)

  • The ability to use various modalities enables technology to match people’s preferences for visual, audio, or textual experiences. Technology can also create a synergistic effect by combining modes, such as audio, video, and data, during an interaction to produce the optimum persuasive impact. (Fogg, p9)
  • Wider information, particularly relating to performance, is probably paramount in discharging accountability to donors; and this will require the telling of ‘the story’ of the charity (often from the perspective of beneficiaries—if it is possible to operationlize such a perspective. (Hyndman and Jones, p152)
  • Principle of Surface Credibility: People make initial assessments of the credibility of computing technology based on firsthand inspection of surface traits like layout and density of ads. (Fogg, p135)
  • As Forlizzi and Battarbee (2004, p. 264) put it, “emotions affect how we plan to interact with products, how we actually interact with products, and the perceptions and outcomes that surround those interactions.” (van Gorp and Adams, p39)

A framework is needed to better understand the user cognitive patterns that emerge in context, resulting in effective emotive persuasion. (THE CONTRIBUTION) 

  • Principle of “Real-World Feel”: A Web site will have more credibility if it highlights the people or organization behind the content and services it provides. (Fogg, p156)
  • [There are] four developmental stages of organisational websites: contact, interact, transact and relate. At the ‘contact’ level, websites are largely about promoting an image and providing general levels information; at the ‘interact’ level, there is evidence of of targeting specific audiences; at the ‘transactional’ engagement level, websites facilitate online purchasing; and at the ‘relational’ level, sites develop two‐way consumer relationships. (Burt and Gibbons, p192)
  • [There are] strong positive correlations between rated transactional trust and donation compliance ratings…consistent with the idea that building transactional trust in an aid agency is likely to lead to more productive fundraising outcomes (Burt and Gibbons, p191)


I’ll post more about my influential sources and such later…but this is where I’m at right now.



For my final paper I kinda wanted to revisit Folkmann, but I am unsure if this is enough for the purposes of the paper.

So here is sort of the breakdown of what Jeff talked about in class yesterday with regards to my overarching topic: Interaction design in public spaces

Note this is sort of the Why of my capstone, but I can’t separate them…

  • Why
    • Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to visit various cities and countries, as well as many museums in different places. The interactive installations and public art projects I have experienced have left a big impression on me. While these events have been impactful on the way I see the world, I believe these type of projects are scarce, in the sense that public spaces are normally quite static. I want to bridge this gap, and create everyday aesthetic experiences. My interest in ubiquitous computing and embodied interactions fit in this space, as I see an opportunity to bring interactive experiences into public spaces, and add to the aesthetic quality of life.
    • The why in terms of contribution, I do see a trend in more tangible interactions in space. Be an app that guides you through a store, or in-store experiences, I think technology embedded in our environments is in a way inevitable, but the execution could be overwhelming and overbearing, or well executed and aesthetic.
  • What
    • I seek to understand how public installations create meaning and build memorable experiences for people, with the aim of providing design principles for ubiquitous technology.  Too broad ? (perhaps)
  • How
    • I think the how is what might be different to my capstone, since there I am building something, and have talked to ppl and done a bunch of primary research. I think in understanding several designs more in depth, and I think Follkmann is a way in that seemed more natural for the type of design (meaning looking at sensual-phenomenological, conceptual-hermeneutical, and contextual discursive platforms). So would looking at say 5 installations and break them down into their components, and see what patterns emerge be enough? (what say you?) I think an underlying claim is that in understanding how installations create such experiences, we can design better ubiquitous technology or something like that.

So in terms of what things I need to look into, it would be something like:

  • Explain Folkmann’s platforms
  • Show why it ties well to this type of designs, or why I think it can be used (find the value in a way)
  • Find if someone has used this for some other ulterior motive(s)
  • Talk about 1 example of how it is used
  • Summarize findings from doing this 5 times or so

I think the paper structure I am using as a basis is the defamiliarization paper (explain what technique is, how it is used in some cases, drop some principles).

Any concerns/criticisms/worries/show stoppers you can see?


For the final paper, I am thinking of doing an introduction and sort of a “reason why” for the concept I would like to showcase for my capstone. This concept is called the Food Journey and the idea behind it is that people have different backgrounds and preferences. In the case for my capstone, the focus is on food, people can have different tastes in food. When they are in a relationship, exploring their tastes and doing activities related to food creation and eating can help expand horizons, prompt conversation, and allow the two to grow closer. That is what my concept sets out to do. I have the concept down and am currently doing a proof of concept to see how couples react and interact with each other and the app and what kinds of experience do they get out of it.

Anyways, why am I doing this? That is kind of why I would like to right my paper on. I have a pre pre very basic outline that is helping me organize my thoughts a bit:

  • Intro: Human-Food Interaction, what is it, needs more experience design (basically from new papers I found for my capstone)
  • Experience design is part of the third wave of HCI
  • Third Wave of HCI, what parts of it is important for interaction design and people
  • Food Journey app, description, how it fits into above

That is what I have now. I am currently looking through the old papers to find things that fit. Let me know if something needs more explanation.

JEFF: Is this direction OK? Are there any other suggestions of directions I can take or things I can add before I get too into this route?

“We not experience any movie only through our eyes. We see and and feel films with our entire bodily being, informed by the full history and carnal knowledge of our accultured sensorium.”‘; Even if the body is often forgotten or not consciously experienced by spectators while watching a film, it nevertheless represents the irreducible condition of the possibility of sensory and aesthetic experience.” p 116 (Cinema as skin and touch)

The quote above really resonated with me as it relates to my capstone. Through my pre-writing I became aware of this idea of the “Sensorium”, and a book called Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art, where the main argument is that embodied experience through the senses (and their necessary and unnecessary mediations is how we think” (p5)

In particular these 2 quotes:

“The making of subjects through psychological discourses and pharmacology, I argue, is part of what Foucault so provocatively termed “technologies of the self.” Our bodies do not allow us to “escape” from technological mediation – they are themselves mediating apparatuses, without which there can be no knowledge of the world.” (p 2) Our current yearnings for materiality, for thingness, for the concrete stuff of the physical world are here located in the body’s desiring negotiations with the virtual and the mediated – ever more intimately naturalized as the sensory technological envelope in which we live.” (p 4)


“In conjunction with the visuality historians have charted as characteristic of the modern, we should begin to reckon the auditory, the olfactory, and the tactile as similarly crucial sites of embodied knowledge. The resulting set of experiences can be called a sensorium: the subject’s way of coordinating all the body’s perceptual and proprioceptive signals as well as the changing sensory envelope of the self.” (p 8)

(Arning, B., Farver, J., Hasegawa, Y., Jacobson, M., Jones, C. “Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art”. (2006), MITPress)

I think this is extremely relevant to our roles as designers, in particular when it comes to creating digital experiences. I feel we have been neglecting the rest of our bodies when it comes to designing digital experiences. We are designing for people that move around in the world, who think, feel, see, hear, and smell, not just see. So how can we leverage the ideas exposed in this cinema as skin and touch article? Even if the interactions we craft are not tangible in some way?

Alternatively, with the hype that is surrounding the Internet of Things, and ubiquitous computing, there is definitely room for embodied interactions.

What is more interesting to me is this idea of thinking through our senses, and how we make sense of the world, or an experience, and how we can index the “carnal knowledge”, and through that, communicate with others… How much richer could our interactions be if we leveraged other senses? Where is the balance between overwhelming the senses and crafting an out of the ordinary sensorial experience?

I think this also yields itself very well to third wave approaches (not just first wave approaches of information processing from different senses), but in the sense that by designing contingent designs, for contingent individuals, we cannot ignore the physical world. So how does contextual experiences vary from individual to individual?  Can we facilitate physical states through our experience and interaction design?

What do y’all think?

(In the spirit of sharing our writing concerns… I am stuck, but I am also procrastinating)

So something I have been struggling with is picking the right thing to do that will benefit my capstone indirectly (since I am not writing the paper), but I want the research to help in some way to what I’m doing (so it is not a waste of time and life).

So here are 2 tracks. Originally I wanted to do interactive architecture as a topic, and just see how this relates to experience design. I have a book on that that I have been procrastinating on, so I have not read that.

On the other hand is this thought that I feel there is something about, but at the same time I don’t think it is that original. So I am convinced that art projects, interactive installations etc are appealing in a way, because they are somewhat incomplete. (I’m sure people are tired of me talking about this, but I just don’t know how to show this is the case!)

So they are incomplete in the sense that the person experiencing them, visiting, watching them, interacting with them, make meaning and complete the experience by themselves. But I feel perhaps this is the end of this thought… I spoke to one of the curators from the SF exploratorium last Friday, and when I told her this, she also said she believe a lot of art projects, installations are incomplete. But I am not sure where to go from here…

I have looked at McCarthy and Wright, and Dewey, Aesthetic Interaction – A Pragmatist’s Aesthetics of Interactive Systems by Petersen et al. So we have the idea of doing and undergoing we see from Dewey, McCarthy and Wright say “consumers are not passive; they actively complete the experience for themselves.”, and “Aesthetic Interaction is not about conveying meaning and direction through uniform models; it is about triggering imagination, it is thought-provoking and encourages people to think differently about the encountered interactive systems, what they do and how they might be used differently to serve differentiated goals.”  … but I don’t know. I don’t know if this is worth taking further… So perhaps the road of interactive architecture is the way to go here…

any of these will give me stuff for capstone…

So here is a list of some Dark Patterns I’ve encountered across my capstone travels. Feel free to critique and comment, and see if you can find the Persuasive Pattern I’ve snuck in amongst the lot (they’re the good guys, at least from my research so far!).



nextcouk trammel net patternNYCCTwitter2squre persuasivetrammelnet2Network Solutionsimagedarkpatterns_applewebwizards

I am going to tie Carroll’s reading and his account of criticism in with my capstone project for this post. My capstone project is an investigation into Problem Framing as part of the process of designing. Currently, I am analyzing, and yes critiquing, different HCI domains like Ubicomp, mobile, HCI4d, and Critical design to try to suss out how academics who publish in this area go about their problem framing. Namely, I want to try to connect the process of problem framing with Carroll’s account of criticism as an activity that exposes value to an audience.

So far I have noticed trends in Problem Framing like relying on expert opinions in certain domains, designing for particular demographics by following specialized constraints and assumptions, and, overall, the focusing on exposing the true nature and subtleties  of some affliction people are experiencing. In short, seemingly most of the design processes I read can be characterized by designers who identify some pain point, inequality, or lack of comfort X (taken from some other demographic or culture) and then try to solve for these ‘situations’.

These designers try then to design for these ‘situations’ by a similar process Carroll laid out in his first chapter namely the description, elucidation, contextualization, classification, interpretation, and/or analysis of the situation so as to lead to insights as how to solve the ‘situation’ or problem. Where I think there can be a contribution made to Problem Framing is that, instead of being problem-focused, what if designers focused on using Critical Evaluation to find value in certain “situations” and to then use their power of criticism to foster new understandings and manifestations of this value in terms of designs.

I understand Carroll’s account of criticism to be the following: “…criticism is primarily committed to the discovery and illumination of what is valuable in artworks.” (p.46) More, this type of evaluations is based on reason. Carroll goes on to explain that the other activities involved in producing a critique are hierarchically subservient to evaluation, that is they play a special role in providing good reasons and justifications by which the evaluation can be made.  Carroll’s main contribution is fore-fronting the importance of evaluation as part of the critique process. Indeed, Carroll claims that the evaluation is the end product of criticism in that “criticism is strong criticism insofar as it renders its evaluation intelligible to audiences in such a way that they are guided to the discovery of value on their own.” (p.45) If I am planning on using this framework as something, in someway, is related to problem framing I need to answer a few questions that came up while I was reading Carroll.

First, what type of evaluation, as the primary activity of critique, would be appropriate for trying to understand problem framing? Carroll gives a few accounts of evaluation: political, ideological, artistic, negative, or positive. Each one of these types of evaluation has different motivations. Carroll talks about motivations for evaluation in his discussion of the ‘lack-of-general-criteria’ argument. In that, without general criteria by which an evaluation of an artwork could occur, “something else” must take the place of reason as a basis for evaluation.

“Historically, some of the leading candidates for that “something else” have been emotion, subjectivity, or political motivations (either politics in the large sense, as in the case of classism, racism, or sexism, or politics in the sense of interpersonal power relationships).” (p.30)

Earlier in the introduction Carroll identifies the outcomes of some of these candidates in that they “frequently pave the way for negative evaluations of candidates in terms of sexism, classism, logo-centrism, etc.” (p.5) What struck me with this characterization is the admittance that evaluating in these terms often produces negative evaluations. “This design is too Western” “This design is patriarchal” “This design inflates the capitalistic ideal” are all examples of the negative type of evaluation designs can received when evaluated using any of the candidate motivations laid out by Carroll. While these evaluations are important, and often apt, they firmly voice problem framing in terms of the current status quo, even if it is the negation of the status quo. In this way, these candidate motivations for evaluation of design framing excludes alternative future thinking.

Carroll draws a distinction between negative evaluation and something I call “value-finding” evaluation. Carroll sees the project of negative criticism as:

“Indeed, a constant diet of negative criticism–relentlessly pointing our the bad and the ugly in artwork–would be so impoverished that I suspect it could not be sustained for very long. For it is the promise of contact with what is valuable that we ultimately hope for from criticism.” (p.47)

Drawing out the value in design opportunities or spaces rather than characterizing them in negative terms is analogous to Carroll’s account of negative and value-finding evaluation of an artwork. Because evaluative criticism, which is based on reason, can help find value in a design space, it can be supportive of designers who wish to provide for alternative futures the kind of which do not depend on existing problems.

I haven’t fully flushed out the place of reason and its relation to how I want to propose Criticism as a tool for problem framing, but I do want to engage with Carroll’s account that emotions need not compromise critical evaluation. He goes into his account on pages 30 and 31 if you want to check it out, but I offer no summary of his argument other than its ok for some emotional aspect of evaluation to exist in concert with any reasoning aspect. This is paramount for critiquing a design space. Since we design for value and for people, affect is a necessary part of whatever experience we design for. In this way, Carroll’s account of critical evaluation neatly accounts for the type of evaluation needed in design work. More, since Carroll’s account of evaluation hinges upon value-finding and value-illuminating, his type of evaluation maps nicely to the sort of relationship design has with ethical values. In this way, criticism in design can do important work in value-finding and value-illuminating specifically in an ethical realm.

There is a ton more I could write, but as this is already a 1,000 word blog post, and most of you probably wont even get this far I am going to stop. But, I want to make a list of other things that need to be considered:

-The relation between the critic, criticism, and the audience in design criticism. Who are these parties, what is their relation?

-What types of values are to be found for identifying and illuminating in designs?