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The discussion we had on Tuesday reminded me this morning of a quote from Stolterman & Nelson in The Design Way:

“We are lame gods in the service of prosthetic gods.”

The word “prosthetic” was, I think, carefully chosen. According to the dictionary, a prosthesis is, “A device, either external or implanted, that substitutes for or supplements a missing or defective part of the body.” It’s an approximation, at best, of an organic limb or organ.

We closed class by establishing that Kieślowski used formalistic techniques to approximate the inarticulate felt experience of longing, and that this formalistic approximation was analogous to what we do as designers.

In the same way Kieślowski at best could only approximate that inarticulate felt experience, we can only approximate how people will react to and use our designs. Because of our education and experience we can make a pretty damn good guess, but a guess is the best we can hope for.

Technology is a means by which we can create prosthetics for our bodies and minds. We can remember things better, communicate over greater distances, and access information more readily than ever before in human history. But in the same way a prosthetic arm can’t communicate a sense of touch, our technology only can increase our abilities so much.

The best we can hope for is an approximation: there are a million to-do list mobile apps, but I still manage to forget to post on this blog; I can FaceTime with Hillary in Philadelphia, but it can never compare to sitting across a dinner table from her;  I can look up Nelson Mandela’s birthday with Wikipedia in an instance, but the same article could also describe Mr. Mandela as the spawn of Cthulhu. I think this relates heavily to several of Dennis’ posts from earlier in the semester regarding the danger/necessity of normative thinking in design practice.

We build prosthetics, supplements, substitutes, extensions…but nothing more. But my question is: Why not? Why can’t we do better than that? Is it a human shortcoming? Is our technology not “advanced” enough?

The philosophical version of that question could be this: If we could easily manipulate the very fabric of our reality, would we then be able to design the ‘perfect’ prosthesis? What do you think?

 

What

‘Film instances as a rhetorical devices to explore social and cultural issues with a technology.’

This is inspired from Pastiche scenarios that draws on fiction as a resource to explore the interior ‘felt life’ aspects of

User experience and complex social and cultural issues raised by technological innovations. There is a detailed and very interesting paper written by Mark A. Blythe and Peter C. Wright on the topic ‘ Pastiche scenarios: Fiction as a resource for user centered design’.

Pastiche scenarios as described in the paper can be generated by ‘ cutting and pasting lines of source text and then modifying the story line to allow for the introduction of the technology in question.’ For my final paper, since I am focusing on films which is rich media in terms of visuals, I have decided to use film instances (screen shot of film scenes) to explore the social and cultural issues. I am not sure if these instances can be called as pastiche scenarios.

Also, I have picked ‘Indian films’ as a case study for my capstone (final paper is derived from it) and I am choosing films based on Mumbai culture, specifically those scenes that I believe have captured the context and cultural specificity very well. (I am placing myself as a strong subject in this.)

Why

  1. Films meant more to me than a just another source of entertainment. I feel deeply moved after watch some of the Indian films mostly due to the richness of context portrayed in it. It’s the groundedness of these films, story lines, music and actors acting in it that left a long lasting impression on me. I knew I had to do something about it in my capstone.
  1. Almost in all of my RDSC projects, I have used stories to communicate design. These story, I felt, weren’t very rich. Of course , user experience designers are not graphic artists but I thought we could still stretch our imagination to think about different ways a technology could be used/adapted by people considering different social and cultural context during ideation.
  1. Expansion of third wave HCI that stretched beyond workplace and started considering user experience holistically.

One of the quotes from ‘Critical and cultural approaches to HCI’ paper from Jeffery Bardzell -

‘Cultural HCI should have less to do with telling us about culture and more to do with helping us improve culture. It would be wrong, I argue, to see cultural approaches primarily as another research lens to tell us what is out there in the world; the social sciences are a better fit for this direction of inquiry. Cultural approaches should be used to help HCI improve our lived environment and improve ourselves.

Prior work/sub-domain of HCI

My research and audience group is hugely influenced by these two papers

  1. ‘Pastiche scenarios: Fiction as a resource for user centered design ‘ by Mark A. Blythe *, Peter C. Wright

In this paper, pastiche scenarios have been used to for three purposes and explained in details by three interesting case studies:

  1. Pastiche scenarios are used to explore ‘felt-life’ issues.
  2. Pastiche scenarios are particularly valuable in participatory design situations, since they engage users in the way that characters in novels might.
  3. pastiche scenarios can be used to explore social and cultural issues with imagined technology.

I am more interested in exploring the third purpose and appropriate it by using films.

  1. Design Documentaries: Inspiring Design Research Through Documentary Film by Bas Raijmakers, William W. Gaver, Jon Bishay

I liked how they started. Their approach really helped me articulate why I chose ‘films’ as a medium to understand and explore cultural and social issues.

One specific quote that resonated the most with me -

” We suggest that, for design research in HCI, film can be much more than a note-taking tool; we can use it as a means to explore, understand and present the everyday, and benefit from film’s capabilities to preserve ambiguities and paradoxes instead of resolving them into univocal conclusions.”

How

I am planning to make a card deck of film instances and conduct a small activity of ideating and exploring different possible technological solutions.

My intention is to help designers empathize with and consider different cultural and social issues that could shape the usage of the technology they design.

” It is possible for designers to shape how technology is used but not to determine it.” – Mark A. Blythe and Peter C. Wright in ‘ Pastiche scenarios: Fiction as a resource for user centered design’.

Besides these, few papers that I am planning to refer are:

  1. Critical And Cultural Approaches To HCI by Jeffery Bardzell
  2. ‘‘A great and troubling beauty’’: cognitive speculation and ubiquitous computing Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell
  3. Interaction criticism: An introduction to the practice Jeffrey Bardzell
  4. MACHINIMATIC REALISM: CAPTURING AND PRESENTING THE “REAL WORLD” OF VIDEO GAMES Jeffrey Bardzell
  5. Cinema and touch
  6. Crafting User Experiences by Incorporating Dramaturgical Techniques of Storytelling
  7. A User-Centric Adaptive Story Architecture – Borrowing from Acting Theories
  8. Carroll
  9. Elliot W. Eisner, connoisseurship, criticism and the art of education

These are some of the collection I have. I am going to refer readings from Foundations, Experience design and Interaction culture paper.

If you have some advice on the paper, or suggestions, or critique, I will be happy to receive it .. :)

So here is another draft of a draft outline. This is what I have so far. These are some of the things I would like to talk about in my paper though keep in mind that they may not be in the order that I am showing now and I’ll be adding more information as I go:
3rd Wave HCI and Experience Design

Intro

McCarthy, John, Wright, Peter. (2004) Technology as Experience. The MIT Press.

  • “We don’t just use or admire technology; we live with it… technology is deeply embedded in our ordinary everyday experience.” (2)
  • “…our interactions with technology can involve emotions, values, ideals, intentions, and strong feelings.” (2)

Nardi, “Play as Aesthetic Experience,” from My Life as a Night Elf Priest, pp. 39-51.

  • “Dewey argued that aesthetic experience is part of ordinary life and should not be confined to viewing the works of a few elite artists presented in museums.” (41)
  • “… active aesthetic experience. He reconceptualized the term aesthetic experience to express an active participatory relation to artful material and collective activity.” (41)

Hassenzahl, “Needs, Affect, and Interactive Products: Facets of User Experience.” Interacting with Computers 22 (2010) 353-362.

  • “Experience is a stream of feelings, thoughts and action; a continuous commentary on our current state of affairs.” (353) [Definition]
  • Pragmatic quality refers to a judgment of a product’s potential to support particular ‘do-goals’ (e.g. to make a telephone call)” (357)
  • Hedonic quality is a judgment with regard to a product’s potential to support pleasure in use and ownership, that is, fulfillment of so-called ‘be-goals’ (e.g. to be admired, to be stimulated)” (357)

Criticism

Bardzell, Jeffrey. (2011). “Interaction Criticism: An Introduction to the Practice.” Interacting With Computers 23 (2011). 604-621.

  • “As HCI’s cultural goals (and significance!) grows, and in particular as demand grows for thinking in HCI surrounding cultural, aesthetic, affective, ethical, and experiential categories, the field needs to improve its practice of interaction criticism.” (606)
  • “By interaction criticism I mean rigorous interpretive interrogations of the complex relationships between (a) the interface, including its material and perceptual qualities as well as its broader situatedness in visual languages and culture and (b) the user experience, including the meanings, behaviors, perceptions, affects, insights, and social sensibilities that arise in the context of interaction and its outcomes.” (606)
  • “It is a strategy that enables design practitioners to engage with the aesthetics of interaction, helping practitioners cultivate more sensitive, insightful, and imaginative critical reactions to designs and exemplars.” (606)
  • “Speaking generally, criticism refers to an expert of a given domain’s informed exercise of judgment… the expert cultivates a domain-specific capacity for judgment through a lengthy engagement with relevant works/examples, theories, and other expert perspectives, an ongoing engagement that is both sensual/perceptual and intellectual.” (606)
  • “… typically based on a holistic, non-reductive understanding that includes issues such as the following:
    1. The work’s qualities, both sensually and intellectually…
    2. A cultivated awareness of the critic’s own direct sensual, emotional, and intellectual experience engaging with the work/ example…
    3. An awareness of (and taking a position with regard to) the moral or ethical consequences of the work and possible interpretations/uses of it.
    4. Knowledge of related expert perspectives from others, that is, what other critics, experts, and scholars have said about the work or those relevant to it in some way.
    5. Exemplars, that is, other known works/examples that in some interesting or worthwhile way are deemed to be comparable to the work.
    6. An awareness of the work’s position in history and location, including the reception of that artifact
    7. Relevant theories, be they methodological or specific to a type of work and its tradition(s).” (606)

Subspace: Human-Food Interaction and Experience Design

Intro

Comber, Rob. (2014). Designing for human-food interaction: An introduction to the special issue on food and interaction design. Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 72 (2014) 181–184

  • “…points to the possibility and necessity to see technology and design interventions in this space as more than simply corrective.” (181)
  • 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.” (181)
  • “Thus while food has always been a significant element in community to global cultures, new forms of communication and mobility offer opportunities for extended food expressions and experiences.(181)
  • 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.” (182)

Choi, Jaz Hee-jeong, Comber, Rob, Linehan, Conor, McCarthy, John. (2012).Food for Thought: Designing for Critical Reflection on Food Practices. DIS 2012 (June 11- 15, 2012) 793-794.

  • “Indeed, modern food values are focused
on convenience and effortlessness, overshadowing other values such as environmental sustainability, health and pleasure. The rethinking of how we approach everyday food behaviours appears to be a particularly timely concern.” (793)
  • Food practices encapsulate the broad spectrum of food production, transport, purchasing, preparation, and consumption among others.” (793)
  • “…there is a growing interest in the design
of technologies to support positive food practices. That is, there is an increasing need to address food not only as a ‘problem’ area, where individuals have insufficient knowledge, inadequate nutrition, or inappropriate environmental behaviours.(793)
  • “Critical reflection on food practices opens the possibility to examine how we conceptualise food practices to redress the imbalance towards positive, playful food practices that support issues of health and sustainability through long-term engagement.” (793-794)

 

Grimes, Andrea, Harper, Richard. (2008). Celebratory Technology: New Directions for Food Research in HCI. CHI 2008, April 5-10, 2008, Florence, Italy.

  • “Socially, food is something that brings people together – individuals interact through and around it.” (1)
  • “In this paper we describe the existing and potential design space for HCI in the area of human-food interaction.” (1)
  • “We present ideas for future work on designing technologies in the area of human-food interaction that celebrate the positive interactions that people have with food as they eat and prepare foods in their everyday lives.” (1)
  • “Given the importance of food in our daily lives, 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.” (1)
  • “…our goal is to explore a different path for food research in HCI, one that focuses not on the problems that individuals have with food, but rather on the ways in which people find pleasure and success in their interactions with food.” (1)

 

Celebratory Design Not Corrective Design

Grimes, Andrea, Harper, Richard. (2008). Celebratory Technology: New Directions for Food Research in HCI. CHI 2008, April 5-10, 2008, Florence, Italy.

  • “…researchers sought to examine how technology might alter human-food interaction… uncertainty would be turned into certainty, inexperience into aptitude. In our mind, the resulting systems are corrective technologies insofar as they attempt to fix undesirable behaviors.” (1)
  • “…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. “ (1)
  • “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.” (1)
  • “In this paper, we want to highlight a whole line of research that has for the most part been neglected within HCI to date.” (1-2)
  • “That is, we will discuss how treating individuals’ interactions with food as positive, as something in which they delight and find pleasure, excitement, and fondness opens up a very different space for technology design.” (2)
  • “This design space is characterized by what we call celebratory technology; technology that celebrates the positive and successful aspects of human behavior.” (2)
  • “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.” (5)
  • “Of course, many of these things are interrelated and rarely occur in isolation…” (5)

 

Six Positive Aspects of Human-Food Interaction

Grimes, Andrea, Harper, Richard. (2008). Celebratory Technology: New Directions for Food Research in HCI. CHI 2008, April 5-10, 2008, Florence, Italy.

Creativity

  • “…preparing meals is a way of expressing creativity…cooking process as a way to express themselves imaginatively.” (5)
  • “…we can imagine designing technologies that assume an adept user who enjoys expressing their creativity through cooking…technologies that support them in adapting recipes to fit their personal tastes and personalities and applications that help them explore new flavors and cuisines.” (5)
  • “For example, one idea would be to have an awareness display that shows individuals what other members of their social group are eating for dinner. This application could serve as a stimulus for creativity: as individuals observe the eating practices of others, they may be inspired to create new meal ideas.” (5)
  • “The point here is that the technology is not reversing or mending individuals’ interactions with food. The fact that some cooks use food preparation as a creative outlet is not something that needs to be fixed… we begin to imagine designs that celebrate aspects of human behavior, rather than correct it.” (5)

Pleasure & Nostalgia

  • “Smelling, preparing, touching, and tasting foods, and even remembering past food experiences can evoke emotional responses… In addition to these sensual experiences, foods can also hold symbolic meaning whereby they embody past experiences.” (5)
  • “These memories can bring with them feelings of nostalgia and fondness for the past.” (5)
  • “They examined how individuals subjectively characterize hedonic eating experiences as well as what conditions were needed for eating to be pleasurable. They describe how the features of the physical environment, the nature of the social interaction that surrounds the eating process, and feelings of relaxation can all contribute to individuals feeling that their eating experiences are pleasurable.” (6)
  • “For example, understanding that the physical environment can be an important aspect of pleasurable meals suggests that technologically augmenting tables, chairs, or dinnerware might be a way to provide new hedonic eating experiences for people.” (6)
  • “…memory microwave display…with the memory display, activating the microwave could trigger the display to show photographs from a digital photo album. For example, imagine heating up a meal and having related photographs be displayed (e.g. pictures of grandma are displayed when heating up dishes that she often used to prepare).” (6)
  • “The memory microwave display could augment the process by which foods trigger memories and subsequently emotional responses (such as pleasure) by providing another visual dimension for memories.” (6)
  • “With this type of design idea, the goal is not so much to improve the ways in which people have emotional responses to food, but rather to provide a new way for individuals to experience these emotions.” (6)

Gifting

  • “Food acts both literally and symbolically as a gift.” (6)
  • “Literally, individuals give gifts of food at holidays and other special occasions. (6)
  • “Symbolically, even when it is not presented as such, food can be a gift. For example, scholars studying the role of gender in food practices have often argued that for some women, the preparation of meals for the family is a means of symbolic gift giving whereby individuals express their love, affection, and sense of caring.” (6)
  • “…food is seen as the ultimate gift because it is both literally and symbolically consumed.” (6)
  • “…food acts as a gift we begin to see how food and the sharing of food can be viewed as precious, as something of symbolic value…does not suggest technological ideas that treat food as an obstacle, or ideas that treat human-food interactions as something that need to be fixed.” (6)

Family Connectedness

  • “The family is an important unit of analysis when considering the social nature of eating… through these patterns and eating norms that families define their identity.” (6)
  • “Shared meals are important to families not simply because they are a time of biological replenishment, but because they are social occasions.” (7)
  • “Since a part of what makes some shared family meals so important is that they are a time for the family to catch up with one another, one design idea is a table display whereby family members post aspects of their day.” (7)
  • “This display would serve as a conversation piece and as a way to augment the discussion with different forms of media. Thus the goal here would not be to fix family communication but rather to augment it by providing a different type of way to engage in social interaction around the dinner table.” (7)
  • “Our own project, HomeBook, is an example of such a display. Here, each member of a family has a space on the screen they can call their own and they can message content to it at their leisure.” (7)

Trend-Seeking

  • “Some individuals use cooking as way to express how hip they are. Riding the waves of culinary trends is a way to show others that one is cultured and modern.” (7)
  • “In various parts of the Western world for example, the emergence of new domestic cooking gadgets, cooking television programs, celebrity chefs, and slick cookbooks can be readily seen. Technologies, media outlets, and media personalities are frequently responsible for setting the trends and influencing consumer behavior.” (7)
  • “…we wish to point out that there are a number of people who are embracing the current trends in domestic cooking by preparing chic dishes, purchasing fashionable kitchen gadgets, or watching cooking programs on the television.” (7)
  • “…then we can imagine a technological artifact that provides a visual representation of the trends that one samples. For example, one design idea is a simple electronic scrapbook that allows individuals to document the trends they have been excited about.” (7)
  • “Such a display could be a fun way for an individual to reflect on the fads that they have participated in over time and might also serve as a whimsical talking piece for people visiting that person’s home.” (7)

Relaxation

  • “…for some individuals cooking and eating are methods of relaxation. For example, the website http://www.chowhound.com is an example of an online community devoted to blogs, message boards, and multimedia content about food. On this website discussion threads have been created where individuals discuss how cooking and baking help them relieve stress. Part of what can make cooking relaxing is the physical actions that go into preparing foods.” (7)
  • “Furthermore, intimate conversations with friends and family can occur in the kitchen while meals are being prepared…‘kitchen therapy’. It is in these over food and through these conversations that the stresses of the day can be diffused.” (7)
  • “The process of eating food can of course also be relaxing.” (7)
  • “One woman noted that drinking a cup of coffee in the morning gave her a few moments of time to be still that helped her feel ready to take on the day. Thus, food and beverages can help facilitate relaxation through their various properties and also through the atmosphere they create.” (8)
  • “Music can often help in setting a mood…Thus, we see potential in exploring systems that couple music with food in a variety of ways.” (8)
  • “Other variants could include a system that seeks music with certain beats and rhythms—food associated with parties and large events having pop and rock, haute cuisine tending towards classical music.” (8)

Related Works

 

Critique of Two Projects

Food Media

Wei, Jun, Wang, Xuan, Tache, Remi, Peiris, Roshan Lalintha, Choi, Yongsoon, Halupka, Veronica, Koh, Jeffrey Tzu Kwan Valino, Martinez, Xavier Roman, Cheok, Adrian David. (2011). Food Media: Exploring Interactive Entertainment over Telepresent Dinner. ACE’2011, Lisbon, Portugal.

  • “Food Media” is “an intuitive multimodal interaction platform to engage remote people into social communication and entertainment within the telepresent family dinner context.” (1) It allows food to become “a valuable asset in the computer-mediated entertainment.” (2)
  • It is meant to “derive playful experience from people’s everyday activities” and “supports multiple interaction modalities around food to afford the enjoyable social interactions.” (2)
  • While “Food Media” is to give the chance “for remote families to enjoy shared entertainment” (1), [Criticism] from the pictures in the paper, it looks very technical and clinical. It does not look very fun. It looks like something a person would do in the lab instead of comfortably integrated into their everyday life. [looks more like what engineers enjoy than regular people] [did find other sites about Food Media and will look at later]

Telematic Dinner Party

Barden, Pollie, Comber, Rob, Green, David, Jackson, Daniel, Ladha, Cassim, Bartindale, Tom, Bryan-Kinns, Nick, Stockman, Tony, Olivier, Patrick. (2012). Telematic Dinner Party: Designing for Togetherness through Play and Performance. DIS 2012, June 11-15, 2012, Newcastle, UK. 38- 47.

  • “There has been a recent call in HCI for new approaches to the design of technology for and around food.” (38)
  • “Here we consider, among the others, the creativity, togetherness, pleasure and playfulness, associated with food and mealtime.” (38)
  • “The Telematic Dinner Party (TDP) aims to support remote guests in experiencing a sense of togetherness, and playfulness and sharing in a dinner party.” (38)
  • “TDP provides a space where we can use technology to ‘make the familiar strange.’ In doing so, we can reveal the limits of technological acceptance, performance and the computer mediation of social relationships in a familiar social setting.” (38)
  • “Multimodal technology platform”
  • “…we explore the possibilities and consequences of designing for togetherness, performance and playfulness toward a form of social presence.” (38-39)
  • [Criticism] From the images it looks more people focused that “Food Media”. While they are still exploring the space, they went through several iterations with real people and seemingly real table settings. It has an appearance of what may be found in a dining space.

 

How Help Inform Future Work

Food Journey

I’ve really struggled with choosing something to write about for the final paper. I tried a collection/survey approach with my prewriting as practice for the type of paper I thought I wanted to write later in the semester. The prewriting was a total botch job, and I’ve been in a holding pattern since then. Thankfully, Jeff’s diagram in class today helped me put the pieces together of something else that’s been floating around my mind for a while. This paper might be a chance to dig into it further.

I’d like to make the claim that digital learning applications, services, and technologies represent the means to begin thinking about new ways to approach education at all levels. I cite Khan Academy, Duolingo, Wikipedia, & Glerb as examples. These are also the interactions/designs I’m interested in exploring in my paper – specifically, their educational components (more obvious in Khan, Duolingo, & Glerb than Wikipedia, perhaps).

Based on my survey of these designs, I’d use the paper to propose one possible “new way” to think about education. While I’m sure my thinking will evolve once I’ve done a more careful analysis of the designs, my existing knowledge of this space suggests that I may be able to reference the same Monroe Beardsley quote Jeff shared in Foundations, and that served as early inspiration in my Capstone problem framing:

“We must be careful not to lose sight of our main purpose, which is not primarily to increase our knowledge of the arts, but to improve our thinking about them.”

I think digital learning tools may give us the means to restructure the role brick and mortar schools and universities play in education. How can we use the very different but equally valuable strengths of modern technology and physical classrooms in concert to improve education?

Some readings I’d leverage off the top of my head: Bardzell IC paper, the recent Barnard reading, perhaps ‘Cinema as Skin & Touch’, probably Carroll, and probably the Design Way.

I’m having trouble focusing my thinking, but I also only put all this together myself a few hours ago. What do you think? How can I scope down the discourse I’ll need to work through? What frameworks of analysis might you recommend to help understand the value, educational or otherwise, of a design within the scope I’ve defined here? Is this a bad idea for a paper?

This will probably be a short post (well see). Mainly, I wanted to point out why I think we read this chapter from Carroll. In short, we read this to give us an example that designing for affect, particularly humor or horror, is possible. Not only is it possible, Carroll lays out some of the mechanisms by which we experience this emotions and feelings. We have been talking a lot in class about individuality and connectedness between audience, designer, user, person. What Carroll’s account of horror and humor does is give us evidence that people respond to certain stimuli in very similar ways.

Carroll’s notion that we find a monster repulsive , impure, or threatening (Carroll’s necessary condition for a movie to be of the horror genre) is a recognition that we all, for the most part, agree what is repulsive, impure, or threatening. This suggests, strongly, that we are so constituted that there are simply uniting dispositions that allow us to experience horror and humor together. There is a commonality among our perceptions, understandings, and affect that allow for our shared reactions to horror or humor.  For design, this means that we can, sincerely, design for certain affects — and it works. The evidence of centuries of storytelling that have successfully engendered these emotions and feelings and audiences is enough evidence for us to move forward with this idea in our HCI work.

But, there are certain questions we must ask as we move forward. Literature and film are two different mediums though which humor and horror are achieved, UX design is a third. What are the cues, styles, stimuli of UX design so far as they can engender horror or humor? Are these different from film or literature, are they the same? How will we develop our language of affect for UX design? Has it already been developed? Are there formal criteria by which we must measure our UX design?

I was reading Erik’s blog and saw his review of Nigel Cross’ “Design Thinking”. Erik’s critique would have fit right into our class discussion, he is quite impartial.

What I found most interesting was Nigel Cross’ rebuttal! He talks about what the publishers wanted and what he thought of Erik’s post.

 

Check it out: http://transground.blogspot.com/2011/05/book-comment-nigel-cross-design.html

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?

During Tuesday’s class Jeff talked about how HCI messes up the notion of the User. We didn’t really go into it all that much, but it really piqued my interest. I think Jeff was bringing up the User as being defined as Addressee or Receiver, and the effect of understanding the User in each office.

The Thwaite reading defines Addressee and Receiver as the following:

“Sender and receiver are actual people. Addresser and addressee, on the other hand, are purely constructions of signs. They are like fictional characters in that they have no existence other than in signs, and they may bear very little resemblance to the actual sender and receiver.” (p.17)

To me, what Jeff was talking about, although briefly, is this struggle between constructing fictional characters (The User) and responding to the actual people who use the design in the real world. The idea that these fictional characters as users can be highly different or “bear little resemblance” to the actual users (receivers) of the design is problematic on a fundamental level. In current HCI discourse and practice, it seems more likely to encounter design for User as Addressee than it is User as Receiver.

What is problematic about this, to me, is that activity of constructing the fictional character that represents the User. This sounds an awfully lot like a persona, something against which I have been preaching since day one in IDP. Constructing an idea of a person is no simple task. I will go as far as to say that anyone trying to accurately portray a person through a fiction or persona will get things wrong, leave things out, and do this by bending to normative notions and stereotypes. This creates false ideas of who people are and who people ought to be. More, we become further and further removed from the real person with everything we design in this way.

This post will largely be about the role of intention in Design, whether on the part of the author, critic, or audience.  More, the notion of intention is necessarily relied to the meaning making that occurs when participating in design in any of the three roles (designer, critic, audience). Because design’s project is about proposing a new world, a world found to be new by the rethinking of moral systems, emotional responses to stimuli and greater emotional capacities, or the Beautiful, no one person or group of people can provide an argument that hinges upon truth value. Rather, design aims for the plausible, the new, the better, or the unexamined. If design’s project was similar to finding the hardest rock in a box full of rocks, agency and truth value would not be contentious. It is because design wrestles with the fundamental questions of what it is to be a person in this world, that design cannot obey truth value. In this way, design escapes (as Jeff said) the attraction of demonstrating some objective truth, but rather supplies a plausible interpretation of what it is to be human or how life can be lived.

“Design, too, is far more about changing the world than representing it, though certainly it makes heavy use of knowledge representations (e.g., market data, user studies, and social science) to do so.” (p.619)

If Design is said to be about future-making, in the quote as “changing the world”, then design’s main project begs an important question: what, if anything, can we really know about the future? That is, what can we say we know, here engaging Knowledge in a philosophical tradition, about the future. The conditions under which we subscribe something to knowledge don’t exist for future-thinking. At best, all we have for the future are predictions or fantasies we create. This idea is encapsulated by David Hume:

“That the sun will not rise tomorrow is no less intelligible a proposition and implies no more contradiction than the affirmation that it will rise.” – David Hume

Because future-building is the project of design, there is a certain sense of arrogance in the intentions of a critic or designer, if these intentions are characterized by only their truth value.

“Criticism, as I argued earlier, is committed to raising our perceptual ability, our ability to notice and make sense of the relationships between the formal and material particulars of cultural artifacts and their broader socio-cultural significance. ” (p.619)

Here the notion of audience agency is central. All of us, together, have an operator’s role in the meaning making of our future worlds. I forget which author said this but its the idea that we all create mini-Utopias rather than obey some authoritative notion of a utopian world. But this only works if we restrict Criticism to the role of finding value in relation to future-building. In this way, Criticism can improve our perceptual abilities — here making it a possibility for audiences to supply their own perspective on topics of moral systems, the Beautiful, emotional capacities, and other parts of life that have successfully evaded truthful definition for millennia. When it comes down to it, making a normative claim about any of these things limits the agency of audience (users for HCI).

Now, there are limitations to this. I am not saying intentions are valueless. Indeed artistic or designerly intention is vital to understanding a horror film as something enjoyable rather than a seriously disturbed perspective on the way life should be.

Many ideas came to my mind today at class… Here there are two of them.

* I think that art might be a form of control… how can the artist create art that really leverages society? It you’re educated on criticism and to do critique, you may get critical about your role as a designer and about your work… Therefore, you won’t be able to ignore the degree of “commodified dreams” that your work might represent, your work environment might represent, and your work context (micro-world/business world) might represent.

pic-dieter

* When students start learning about design, they go easily à la “Dieter Rams” way. I believe that as “older” as you get, and as better “knower” as you get (regarding Design), you may observe that design is a) richer and b) there’s no right or wrong design.

 

 

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