Thursday, December 19, 2013

Artifact analysis, Bill Buxton, and the power of artifact inventories, compendiums, collections

I have many times on my blog made the case for a more artifact oriented approach in HCI research. One reason, among many, is that our discipline is not paying enough attention to the actual artifacts/systems that constitute the core and the reason for existence of our field.

So, developing ways to carefully study interactive artifacts and systems in a way that can lead to theoretical development is crucial. I truly enjoy the traditional philosophical method of going back and forth between theoretical definitions and concrete examples.  The purpose of this process is to increase the precision in the theoretical definitions through a step by step refinement so that they at the end capture the important qualities of the artifacts.

To be able to conduct such research you need concrete examples of artifacts. One approach is to work with highly diverse individual artifacts that present definitional challenges, but it is also good to have more comprehensive collections of artifacts that can serve as a foundation or horizon for individual examples to be compared and contrasted.

For instance, today I saw this compendium or collection of cameras (in some chronological order). A collection like this can be seen as an example of such a foundation or horizon of artifacts. In the article the author engages in some straightforward and fairly preliminary artifact analysis. It is clear that the collection, with its selections and structure, is itself an expression of some theoretical definitions and even postulates about what constitute this type of artifact and its primary qualities.

It would be great to see more collections like this in our field. Bill Buxton has  done a remarkable job with his collection. However, the Buxton collection can be seen as "raw data" for those who want to engage in more intentional artifact analysis. For instance, just take a look at the collection of different types of 'mouse' artifacts. It is an exciting collection, highly diverse when it comes to form, function, material, etc. that can lead to exciting questions such as: What has changed over the years? What count as a mouse today?

Anyway, this post was not meant to be this long. I really just wanted to link the the very nice collection of cameras :-)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Core77 and book reviews

Core77 is one of the most ambitious online magazines about design. I try to visit now and then even though it is not often enough. If you have not found it yet, they have a nice book review section. Of course, not all books are necessarily interesting, but they are all related to aspects of design. Some of the books I have also reviewed on my blog. I have not really read any reviews carefully to be able to say anything about the quality of them. Maybe I will later.
Take a look.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Maybe 'flat design' has not killed skeuomorphism yet....

In a recent post I wrote about "Why flat design is soon boring, old and 'flat'". Today I stumbled across this short but very interesting article in Fast Company about some  Kingston University animation students work. The article is called "Apple Skeuomorphism Reconstructed In 3-D" with the sub title "Using paper models, a team of animation students creates an elegant critique of Apples's iOS. Meta."

These students have done something great. They have tried to explore and challenge the dominant paradigm of 'flat' design in a highly creative and fun way! The text and the videos may not convince a flat design believer but at least they ask good questions and open up for richer discussion about design paradigms.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

List of all book notes and reviews

A while back I started to collect links to all the book notes and book reviews on my blog on a separate page. You can find it here or in the navigation bar above. It has been interesting to see what kind of books I have written about and of course it leads to all kinds of speculations about why I read these particular books. Anyone who wants to analyze that is welcome to comment :-)

Anyway, for those who are interested in reading I hope that the notes and reviews can be of some help.