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As you are all starting to get serious about your papers, I can see the rubber is hitting the road. You have interactions in mind and you are all increasingly grappling with critiquing those interactions using theory. As you do, I can sense anxiety in some of you: a lot of people aren’t sure they are doing what they are supposed to be.

I encourage you to revisit my paper, “Interaction Criticism: An Introduction to the Practice,” which we read back in September. I say that not to toot my own horn, but rather because that paper is intended to be a how-to guide for interaction criticism (hence the “an introduction to the practice” part)!

Among other things, it will remind you what criticism is for, what it does and doesn’t do, what it looks like, and why people do it. (As you will recall, there were 5 key claims of aesthetics and criticism introduced in the first half of the paper–with lots of juicy quotes and practical distinctions). The intro and conclusion of the paper speaks more generally about how interaction criticism could benefit interaction design–revisit those! See if the framings offered there give you a better sense of direction, a clearer idea of an end goal.

Another thing you can do to get a clearer sense of direction and/or goal is to revisit the papers this semester–Devereaux, Kickasola, etc.–that practice criticism. This time, pay less attention to what they say, and pay more attention to HOW they say it–the paper’s rhetoric, including its structure, the types of interpretations they make, the types of evidence they use to substantiate them, etc.

If you do both of these activities at the same time–revisit my paper and look at the rhetoric of some of the examples of criticism–then I think you will have a better sense of what kind of argument you can/should make.

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I now feel a lot better about “this stuff” after reading Jeff’s article. I feel like it helped explain a lot better what this class is supposed to be about (I’m looking at you Nina).

So now, after reading this, I’m thinking to myself… why the hell is criticism NOT presented like this and here at IU? Yes, we talk about critique and how good/useful/blah blah etc it is, but we don’t go anywhere near this kind of heavy thought process about criticism, art, understanding, and so on. It seems that interaction criticism is … well more than a tool at our disposal.

If the HCI community really started to engage in criticism, can we see a major shift within HCI? From reading this paper it certainly sounds that way. It just sounds way too important to not create some sort of black whole in the universe. I’m really curious as to how much influence it’s going to have in the future and what direction (if any) it leads or has an impact on HCI.

After reading some drafts of others’ papers, hearing all the ideas, and then going through the painful yet rewarding process of writing my own paper, I realized something.  It would almost be a shame for me to NOT read everyone’s final paper.  I have learned so much from hearing other people’s perspectives and ideas this semester that I crave some more. Maybe that sounds loony but so be it.  Or perhaps some others feel the same.

In any case, this is a call to everyone to share their papers here.  Casey has already put his up, and mine can be downloaded here.  I look forward to seeing some great perspectives!

Just FYI, I just posted a rather long but well illustrated post on the different kinds of criticism that are a part of interaction design.

http://interactionculture.wordpress.com/2008/10/19/species-of-interaction-criticism/

This week’s reading includes a blog series I wrote, entitled, “Interaction Criticism: How to Do It, parts 1-7.” That series begins here.