Human connection is essential for our personal well-being and a building block for a well-functioning society. There is a prominent interest in the potential of technology for mediating social connection, with a wealth of systems designed to foster the feeling of connection between strangers, friends, and family. By surveying this design landscape we present a transitional definition of mediated genuine connection and nine design strategies embodied within 50 design artifacts: affective self-disclosure, reflection on unity, shared embodied experience, transcendent emotions, embodied metaphors, interpersonal distance, touch, provocations, and play. In addition to drawing on design practice-based knowledge we also identify underlying psychological theories that can inform these strategies. We discuss design considerations pertaining to sensory modalities, vulnerability–comfort trade-offs, consent, situatedness in context, supporting diverse relationships, reciprocity, attention directedness, pursuing generalized knowledge, and questions of ethics. We hope to inspire and enrich designers’ understanding of the possibilities of technology to better support a mediated genuine feeling of connection.
Digital calendars and other technologies for social event planning leave little space to communicate uncertainty regarding time, place or the ability to attend an event. However, narratives of certainty can be detrimental and lead to the marginalisation of those who find it hard to cope with rigid and strictly paced schedules, such as people with health conditions or caring responsibilities. In this paper, we explore uncertainty as the starting point and leading principle behind digital scheduling tools. We present Haze, a speculative tool and user interface, designed to gain insights on participants’ perceptions of uncertainty-based scheduling scenarios. We report on two qualitative studies (total of 21 participants), which indicate that a change in perspective towards uncertainty can challenge moral assumptions around certainty, increase temporal empathy, and in-deed support those who are particularly affected by uncertainty. These findings help shift and expand the repertoire of temporality and discuss moral and social responsibilities for design and HCI.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced workers around the world to switch their working paradigms from on-site to video-mediated communication. Despite the advantages of videoconferencing, diverse circumstances have prevented people from focusing on their work. One of the most typical problems they face is that various surrounding factors distract them during their meetings. This study focuses on conditions in which remote workers are distracted by factors that disturb, interrupt, or restrict them during their meetings. We aim to explore the various problem situations and user needs. To understand users’ pain points and needs, focus group interviews and participatory design workshops were conducted to learn about participants’ troubled working experiences over the past two years and the solutions they expected. Our study provides a unified framework of distracting factors by which to understand causes of poor user experience and reveals valuable implications to improve videoconferencing experiences.
Personal informatics (PI) systems have been developed to support reflection. While reflection is considered an indispensable activity in PI use, how and when reflection occurs is still under-studied. In this paper, we present an analysis of the interactive features of 123 commercial PI apps, revealing that reflective practices are unevenly supported. The lack of features that encourage user-driven reflection, scaffolding for setting goals and configuring data collection and presentation, and consideration of wider implications stand to limit meaning-making and frustrate nuanced insight generation based on lived experiences. Based on our findings, we discuss how reflection is currently misrepresented in personal informatics tools, identify and characterize the gaps between theoretical research on reflection and interface features in current apps, and offer suggestions about how reflection could be better supported.
This paper reports on Zoom Obscura – an artist-based design research project, responding to the ubiquity of video-conferencing as a technical and cultural phenomenon throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. As enterprise software, such as Zoom, rapidly came to mediate even the most personal and intimate interactions, we supported and collaborated with seven independent artists to explore technical and creative interventions in video-conferencing. Our call for participation sought critical interventions that would help users counter, and regain agency in regard to the various ways in which personal data is captured, transmitted and processed in video-conferencing tools. In this design study, we analyse post-hoc how each of the seven projects employed aspects of counterfunctional design to achieve these aims. Each project reveals different avenues and strategies for counterfunctionality in video-conferencing software, as well as opportunities to design critically towards interactions and experiences that challenge existing norms and expectations around these platforms.