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Not entirely sure what the question I have here is, I’ve re-written this a few times,and it’s not entirely concrete yet.

But based on something Jeff mentioned offhand – “Our field has struggled with adopting phenomenology for sometime”, I want to question either who’s doing it right, or rather what the best way to do it is?

We instinctively categorize in order to make sense of… well anything. The very phenomenological readings we’ve had have still introduced metaphors or models as a way of making sense of our felt lives. In many ways these separations are important for the author to even make their point at all. Dewey’s idea of experience is, while phenomenological, still dualist! It’s Feeling of Experience vs. “That other non-experience stuff that’s not as interesting”.

And this gets at the issue of language reinforcing this dualist way of thinking – but if you have to, say, write an academic paper, how do you construct a good phenomenological argument without a) breaking things down into disparate categories, or b) basically saying “Well, everything is holistically important, guys.”

In some ways choosing a focus or topic at all seems… against the belief. and yet building it up like this is a straw-man. Help me, I’m going in circles!



Dr. Puterschein, “noted typeface and typographic critic”, writes his criticisms for designers. The first clue is the nature of the text itself and the dead give away is the “Ratings Key” he utilizes.

In the text, Puterchien reviews the typefaces by leaving their functional nature behind and personifying the letters. I thought I might like to see the reviews written in the typeface they were describing, but letting Puterschein guides your imagination and the passages becomes a delightful game. In fact, I don’t believe the review would have been effective if he did this. By separating the typeface from the function, Puterschein makes the reader reflect, squint their eyes at formal details, and consider the typeface beyond being a vehicle for language.

The ratings key above is laden with design metaphors and insider information. First, the mention of Garamond and Matthew Carter as common knowledge assumes this is not the readers first brush with typography. Next, he assumes the reader will respect type enough to pay money for it, something only designers who have budgets for such things would do. Lastly, and possibly the biggest give away, is how he uses the point values as his rating system. The designers reading this can imagine the hierarchical differences of the pt. values in their minds because Puterschein is speaking their language.

Observing the Observer

I present here an abstraction of art (of abstract expressionism, to be exact). And so ladies and gentlemen: the artist observes and reflects, and shares this embodied reflection with another who observes and reflects, and the critic observes and reflects on it all.

Indeed, the observer can only peer, metaphorically, and at some distance, over the artist’s shoulder as he engages with a work and derives meaning from it. Being so removed from the subject and the artist’s intent, it is easy to see the space for meaning-making to take on a life of its own, try as the artist might to guide the willful beast with what aesthetic coding he may hazard.

The critic has the benefit of observing this dialogue over and over again, across time and and observers and artists and encodings, but he too is constrained but what he has observed, and his own distance…

Hahahahahahaha whoops! That was certainly a fun reading! Hey, OneStart says all 15 people dropped IC. Must be a bug!

OK, here is a little bit of free Jeff in your pocket to help with this long and difficult reading:

  • What are some of the main points he’s making?
  • What does “aesthetics” mean in general? He says that aesthetics is “relational.” Relational between what and what? (Note: sets of relations add up to a “structure”)
  • What does “design aesthetics” mean in particular?
  • How does Folkmann’s notion of “aesthetics” differ from what we typically associate with design aesthetics (e.g., style, slickness, surface)?
  • What is the epistemological role of aesthetics?
  • Vocabulary check: phenomenology, hermeneutics, taste, ambience, “ungraspable surplus of meaning,” hyperreal, aestheticization, … others?
  • What are the relationships among perception, meaning, (aesthetic) codes, experience?
  • What was the point with each of the design examples?
  • When we talk about design “meaning,” what are we talking about?

Chair” in italics refers to the French word for “flesh.” When you see it, he’s talking about flesh, not things you sit on.

I might edit this more, but it’s a start for now.


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Welcome 2014 Interaction Culture bloggers! I thought I would write here to break the ice and welcome everyone. Please use this space as a playground for ideas, a place to ask questions, to bitch and to moan, to link the awesome stuff you find on the interwebz that relates in some way to this class, to drop your favorite quotes from the readings, and so on.

Also, when you post, please categorize and tag your post. This is really important! You can find categorization and tagging tools at the right side of the New Post / Edit Post screen when you are blogging.

I’ll share two quotes that I found striking from today’s reading, bolding the parts that I find especially intriguing.

First, from Dunne & Raby:

Now, a younger generation doesn’t dream, it hopes: it hopes that we will survive, that there will be water for all, that we will be able to feed everyone, that we will not destroy ourselves. But we are optimistic…. [Now] is a perfect time to revisit our social dreams and ideals and design’s role in facilitating alternative visions rather than defining them. Of being a catalyst rather than a source of visions…. But to do this, we need more pluralism in design, not of style but of ideology and values.

And here is a more cheerful, but still engaging, one from Crampton Smith:

However, after twenty years of drawing on existing expressive languages [e.g., graphic design, film, product design], we [interaction designers] now need to develop an independent language of interaction with “smart” systems and devices, a language true to the medium of computation, networks, and telecommunications. In terms of perceptual psychology, we’re starting to understand the functional limits of interaction between people and devices or systems: speed of response, say, or the communicative capacity of a small screen. But at the symbolic level of mood and meaning, of sociability and civility, we haven’t quite acheived the breathtaking innovativeness, the subtlety and intuitive “rightness” of Eisenstein’s language of montage.

Juicy juicy.

Are we up for this?

First off, props to Stephanie for calling attention to something I’ve noticed but haven’t yet been able to put my finger on in terms of her “House of Cards” post. If you haven’t read it, check it out (shameless plug because I’m currently enthralled in that show)

I wanted to provide some comment on “In the Blink of an Eye” because although I think Murch makes an interesting (if somewhat unsubstantiated) insight into blinks serving as “cuts” from day to day experiences, I think another emphasis could be placed upon the waking mind as a tool that cuts or “splices” in past experiences into the present. Murch even quoted Huston as saying that film is “More like thought than anything else” and I would argue that along with brinks, our waking consciousness engages in a process of cutting together past events and memories into a meaningful composition that we then access throughout our experiences. For instance, when you look at an object, you don’t merely see an object, but your mind places that object into a context that calls together different cognitive-visual elements we watch in our mind’s eye. The harder we focus upon that particular object, the greater clarity is achieved with those elements until a narrative arises from past experiences. As an example (don’t kill me Gene), I’ll look at my turntable because it’s sitting here right in front of me (spinning Desperado by the Eagles I might add).

Now, a brief glance at the table might not evoke a particular “movie” but rather a random, almost stream-of-c0nsciousness-esque response that could be more emotional than anything else. But as I continue to interact with the turntable, that stream becomes more concrete. As a I pick up Desperado, I remember the events that led to my obtaining it – a friend of my dad offering him several LPs that he no longer wished to keep, which was originally passed on to me. Even in this process of remembrance, I’m splicing together the images I have of that particular moment of remembering. I apologize for the inception-like logic, but in a post-hoc method of rationalization, I’m cutting and pasting different memories, emotions, and bits of cognition to form a narrative that provides context to my surroundings. This happens, or can only be observed “after the fact” or after the experience is over. In that sense, perhaps I could propose a relationship between blinks and post-hoc rationalization. Blinks may be the “cuts” of our experiences, but I might classify them more as “takes”, or the raw footage after a director is done shooting. These “takes” then go through an editing process where the images are combined with other senses and emotions and finally cut and pasted together into a narrative when they are called upon in our rationalization “after the fact”. It could also be entirely possible that the previous paragraph made absolutely no sense, but I hope something of a coherent thought or argument could be determined.

On a separate note, I wanted to expand upon Mulhall’s idea of the ‘director as critic’, which is seen the discussion on how the various directors of the Alien franchise can be seen as critiquing each others’ vision as seen in the previous movie. I wanted to briefly return to Jeff’s idea (and I really apologize if I butcher this) of “existence as criticism” – that by merely releasing a design into the world we are inherently critiquing the designs that came before it. Can the same sentiment be applied to movies? Can we consider sequels, prequels, and remakes as critiques of the earlier movies that bear the same name or narrative?

Last night, I re-(re-re-re-re-)-read the Barnard chapters 1 and 2. They struck me as rather dense and difficult to read. I suspect a lot of you have a lot of questions about that reading.

How about some new blog posts by Not-JeffreyBardzell about the reading–to ask questions, to propose examples of difficult concepts, etc.?

Hi all,

By now many of you have accounts and the rest of you should in short order. Welcome to the blog and our community of critical writing about cool technologies!

When you compose a post, please remember/do the following:

  • Give it a descriptive, short title
  • Use the Categories checkboxes (right side of the Add New Post web form) to assign keywords to the post. This is used to populate the word visualization on the left side of the front page. Do NOT leave this alone or check “Uncategorized”!
  • Optional but helpful: feel free to add custom tags manually; you can do that in the Tags box just below the Categories box on the right side of the Add New Post form.
  • Remember that the blog is viewable by the general public (though in most cases, I don’t think anyone actually looks at them, except this one guy who’s obsessed with The Double Life of Veronique and jumps in to make sure we all see things his way)
  • The first time you post or comment, Katie or I will need to manually approve you. After the first time, all your posts will happen immediately, but the first time, there will be some delay.
  • Have fun, be honest, be speculative, ask questions, etc. We’re not trying to show off here–we’re trying to look deeply at interaction designs together.

That’s it! Have fun and ask Katie or me any questions if you get stuck, are just wondering something, etc.!

Someone wrote to verify the final absolute last possible deadline for the final paper in this class. It is:

4:45 p.m., Tues., May 1

This is set by the university, not me, but that’s it!

Please, I really really really hope papers start trickling in before this deadline, starting Friday, April 27, which is the “official” deadline for the final paper. Remember, you need my explicit official certified permission to turn it in later than April 27, but as I noted earlier, I can be flexible up until Tuesday, May 1.

Sometime last month, I ran across a tumblr in my research on something called “The New Aesthetic.” I didn’t think too much about the concept itself until this long essay came out yesterday in Wired. The term was coined by James Bridle last year, but it refers to a very interesting sort of quickly growing phenomenon, “‘an eruption of the digital into the physical (Sterling)”. It’s obviously something that’s been going on for a while, but it’s only recently in the past year (maybe two) that it’s seemed to be commonplace enough to feel almost normal.

It’s a concept that I personally find very relevant to this class and our field in general. I think I’m going to take the same approach of understanding as my earlier topic, focusing on the meaning-making aspects of this phenomenon (which I’ve find fascinating for some time). I haven’t quite worked out my argument yet, but I’ve got a few ideas floating around that I’ll try to articulate in the comments later. I wanted to get some feedback on this idea of “The New Aesthetic” as it relates to interaction design, and just get some general feedback from everyone on the concept itself.