Synthesis, or the integration of hitherto separated elements, is a prominent concept in theories of design processes. Synthesis often happens when there is a need to make a decision, though it is often the result of a combination of different alternatives, instead of deciding in favor of one and eliminating another. In many design studies, synthesis has been investigated in the contexts of everyday design—bicycle frames, sewing machines, commercial architecture. We were interested in how it might apply in contexts of reflective design, whose pragmatics often depend on different interrelationships between users and technological products. In this paper, we argue that designing everyday use objects for reflection requires a synthesis of two apparently opposite forms: conventionally practical forms, since they are everyday use objects, and evocative forms, since they make users think. We provide two examples of everyday objects for reflection that we believe synthesize both conventionally practical and evocative forms, analyzing the design processes that led to these forms, and discussing how these reflective designs embody different forms of synthesis.
In this paper, we use fiction as a method to complicate the commonplace narratives of data as intangible and objective, in the particular context of Internet of Things (IoT) in the home. We, a team of two design researchers, partnered with a fiction writer and a single IoT enthusiast, Susan, to create The Data Epics: four short stories based on Susan’s monthly home IoT data logs. The Data Epics revealed new imaginaries for data, showing new world-views and lively data, but also surfaced data’s entanglement in meshes and hierarchies, and concerns about control and power. Our work also examines the labor of tending to and interpreting data and a particular interest in anomalies. We conclude with discussions of how data imaginaries from fiction might be imperfect, but are uniquely generative, offering a path to get closer to IoT data by trying things on and zooming in and slowing down.
This paper presents Timelines, a design activity to assist values advocates: people who help others recognize values and ethical concerns as relevant to technical practice. Rather than integrate seamlessly into existing design processes, Timelines aims to create a space for critical reflection and contestation among expert participants (such as technology researchers, practitioners, or students) and a values advocate facilitator to surface the importance and relevance of values and ethical concerns. The activity's design is motivated by theoretical perspectives from design fiction, scenario planning, and value sensitive design. The activity helps participants surface discussion of broad societal-level changes related to a technology by creating stories from news headlines, and recognize a diversity of experiences situated in the everyday by creating social media posts from different viewpoints. We reflect on how decisions on the activity's design and facilitation enables it to assist in values advocacy practices.
Speculative design, critical design, and other alternative designs have emerged as popular approaches and burgeoning traditions within HCI and design research. ¬While examples of this work abound, comparatively little theory exists for grasping alternative designs, and for explicating their relation to other types of design and to design in general. In response, this paper develops the key concepts of progressional design, frictional design, and design as prefiguration. The progressional conceptualization of design holds that designs have a primary purpose, and that purpose is to ultimately converge toward and ideally arrive at production. The frictional conceptualization of design radically relaxes teleological assumptions and productional expectations by prefiguring possibilities that are compellingly resistant to further progression and final production. Prefiguration grounds both progression and friction in the idea that designs are partial, provisional, and potentially preliminary actualizations of possible futures. To illustrate frictional design, this paper outlines a framework of 5 frictional tendencies: diverging, opposing, accelerating, counterfactualizing, and analogizing. These tendencies represent ways in which frictional designs are directionally in tension with the arrow-like vector of progressional design. To further explicate more nuanced relational potentials between friction and progression, several additional concepts are discussed in conclusion: transproductional uses, teleological ambiguity, and relational multiplicity.
We describe the research led by the performance Radical Choreographic Object (RCO). RCO is a participatory performance where the audience members respond to instructions and interactions sent to their mobile phones as well as invitations to dance from the performers. The performance provides an experimental ground where we question how humans participate to the dance and how they relate to their mobile technologies. Through observations and conversations with participants during several showings, we show that the participants progressed from obeying and feeling hostage of the interactions to re-interpreting and re-appropriating them. We then discuss these findings in the light of the norms and constraints that are imposed by social behaviours and by the abundance of mobile technologies. We also reflect on the alternatives that emerge where people break free from those norms, embrace eccentricity and dare to dance.
In recent years, Sustainable HCI researchers have begun to investigate “noticing” as a design research method useful in efforts to decenter the human in design. Through an autoethnographic bird watching practice combining field observation, journaling, and making practices, we examine how noticing affects us and our way of relating to birds. We found that bird watching surfaces a feeling of abjection, or a simultaneous repulsion and fascination with a part of oneself one rejects in pursuit of personal growth. Along the way, we honed a practice of attunement through deep listening and field recording, which enabled immersive "ecological" experiences. We offer (1) an account of our method and process, (2) the framework of abjection as an approach to designing amongst the complexity of human/non-human interaction, and (3) reflections on how to design for ecological thinking in the push towards a posthuman design.
From providing nutrition to being social platforms, food plays an essential role in our daily lives and cultures. In HCI, we are interested in using food as an interaction medium and a context of personal fabrication. Yet, the design space of available food printing methods is limited to shapes with minimal overhangs and materials that have a paste-like consistency. In this work, we seek to expand this design space by adapting support bath-assisted printing to the food context. The bath scaffolds the embedded materials and preserves shapes during the printing processes, enabling us to create freeform food with fluid-like materials. We provide users guidelines for choosing the appropriate support bath type and processing methods depending on the printing material’s properties. A design tool suite and application examples, including confectionery arts, 4D printed food, and edible displays are also offered to demonstrate the enabled interaction design space.
The HCI community has a rich history of finding new ways to engage people with data beyond the screen. With our work, we aim to expand the scope of how interaction design can engage people, arguing that “eating data” has the potential to allow people to experience “data as delight”. With reference to prior work and our design research findings, we discuss the advantages and the challenges of this approach to integrating data and food. We then identify four themes to guide the design of engagements with data through food: food form, food commensality, food ephemerality, and emotional response to food. Within these design themes, we articulate twelve insights for interaction designers to use when working on serving data as delight.
We are surrounded by sensing devices. We are accustomed to them, appreciate their benefits, and even create affective bonds and might neglect the implications they might have for our daily life. By presenting Eyecam, an anthropomorphic webcam mimicking a human eye, we challenge conventional relationships with ubiquitous sensing devices and call to re-think how sensing devices might appear and behave. Inspired by critical design, Eyecam is an exaggeration of a familiar sensing device which allows for critical reflections on its perceived functionalities and its impact on human-human and human-device relations. We identify 5 different roles Eyecam can take: Mediator, Observer, Mirror, Presence, and Agent. Contributing design fictions and thinking prompt, we allow for articulation on privacy awareness and intrusion, affect in mediated communication, agency and self-perception along with speculation on potential futures. We envision this work to contribute to a bold and responsible design of ubiquitous sensing devices.
Humans frequently discontinue to use certain technologies, services, or platforms: they deactivate accounts, block content, or find workarounds for un-using functionalities or devices. This is noticeable in contemporary trends, such as digital detox, where an entire market emerged to support users in discontinuing their use. In this essayistic paper, we reflect on a collection of examples where humans disengage with technology by applying Vardouli's concept of 'making use' to the context of discontinued use. We propose making un-use as an epistemological perspective to 'human-artefact engagements'; one that emphasises un-users as enactors of open-ended, temporarily evolving, and creative activities. We depict making un-use as transformational acts, and discuss epistemological and designerly consequences of making un-use to shed light on a not yet explored site of inquiry and a design space that is about to evolve: a design space for making and makers of un-use.
Since entering the HCI lexicon in the 1990s, Probes have been interpreted and used in divergent ways as a designerly approach to research. While originally positioned as a critique of dominant user-research methods, literature on Probes rarely reflects on such critical dimensions nor explicitly articulates the intents of using Probes as research artifacts. We conducted interviews with 12 design researchers who have worked with Probes within diverse Research through Design projects, exploring direct accounts of how and why Probes are used in practice. Our interviews brought to the fore the critical concerns behind Probe practices in relation to the language of Probing, relationships with participants, and motivations to challenge normative practices. While the pluralistic interpretations of Probes offered by our participants brings challenges, we discuss how making visible the critical motivations of our research opens up new ways of practicing and disseminating Probes.
The use of design fiction to speculate an imaginative and critical future has increasingly been recognized in the design research community. Instead of focusing on speculation with a critical position, this paper reports an experiential approach to entangling everyday experiences in the process of speculating. As science fiction has successfully provided fictional-world-building as entanglement material for speculation, we held a workshop to conduct an entanglement experiment of personal photographs with cyberpunk literature, Neuromancer. We built a card deck consisting of 206 quotes from the novel and invited 15 participants to shuffle, draw, and re-compose sentences that best matched their personal photographs. Purposefully selected everyday anchors and sci-fi features in the quotes allowed us to investigate the moment when an everyday photograph encountered a fictional world. We describe the phenomena of imagination and entanglement, explain experiential entanglement, propose a conceptual model for entangled status, and present interpretations and implications in HCI.
This paper illustrates design work carried out to develop an interactive theater performance. HCI has started to address the challenges of designing interactive performances, as both audience and performers' experiences are considered and a variety of professional expertise involved. Nevertheless, research has overlooked how such design unfolds in practice, and what role artists play in exploring both the creative opportunities and the challenges associated with interweaving digital technologies. A two-day workshop was conducted to tailor the use of the ChameleonMask, a telepresence technology, within a performance. The analysis highlights the artists’ work to make the mask work while framing, exploring and conceptualizing its use. The discussion outlines the artists' skills and design expertise, and how they redefine the role of HCI in performance-led research.