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Showing posts from October, 2015

Donald Schön – some reflections on his popularity

[This is a text a wrote many years ago for a workshop devoted to the work of Donald Schön. Is has been published in Swedish but I don't think in English. I apologize for the language in this text. This is also too long for a blog post but... A PDF version of this text can be downloaded here.]

Donald Schön – some reflections on his popularity "Working methodically is the order of the day, and during this collective work in closed ranks it can happen that individuals forget to make use of their finest, most individual gifts. Their thoughts are for a time completely occupied with the task at hand, the one most available for being carried out according to plan. They become removed and lose feeling for that which is less tangible and only with difficulty perceivable, and as such for some questions they no longer have the necessary refinement." (Hans Larsson, 1892, Swedish philosopher, my translation)

The scientific approach creates endless…

What makes a research prototype/system a knowledge contribution?

Once again I have been involved in discussions on what is the role of a prototype or a demo system in HCI research. What is it that makes a prototype or a system valuable in itself and when do we know that it is a knowledge contribution? These are old questions in our field that for instance Jack Carroll and others discussed over a decade ago. However, I do not think we have a good answer to any of these questions.

I wrote a blog post on this earlier
http://transground.blogspot.com/2015/01/what-makes-prototype-novel.html
where I talked about a paper I wrote with Mikael Wiberg where we tried to answer or at least approach these questions. Unfortunately, I have not seen a lot of discussions lately and would like to see more people engage in this topic. It is crucial for our field when it comes to how we evaluate papers, demos and system at conferences, etc.

[If anyone has some good references, please send them to me.]

Paul Dourish comments on our article "Faceless Interaction"

I have earlier on this blog mentioned the article "Faceless Interaction" (see ref below). The article was recently published and we are both happy and honored that Paul Dourish has written a commentary on our article in the same journal (see ref below).

Dourish writes "In their article on faceless interaction, Janlert and Stolterman offer us an examination of a foundational concept in interaction design that is both generative in the conversations that it provokes and surprising for the fact that such examinations are not undertaken more often."

Dourish continues "Their examination is driven primarily by a need for conceptual foundations,
rather than an empirical effort to grapple with new interaction modalities, although
of course the rise of surface-based interactive devices, the increasing use of speech
and free-form gestural technologies, and the decentered interactional style of ubiquitous
computing all point toward a need to recognize the importance of w…

Amazon Echo investigations

I have now had an Amazon Echo since May (see post) and it is amazing how many questions about the future of HCI the use of this device leads to, especially in relation to what Lars-Erik Janlert and I call "faceless interaction" (see earlier post). I am convinced that Echo is a type of device that in the next few years will fill our personal and private environments. Of course, it may be that devices such as Echo may disappear into the environment itself and be less distinguishable as a 'device' and become more a 'function' of the environment.

I have had the privilege to work for the last couple of month with a couple of excellent students who together with me are investigating Echo. We are trying to map what happens when people are confronted with 'faceless interaction' in the form of Echo. What do people do and think? How do they behave? And most interestingly, what questions about interaction in general does this lead to? We are starting to see some…

Core and target systems: HCI research and the measure of success

HCI research is usually seen an academic activity meant to create knowledge about interactive experiences between humans and computers, and about the technology that makes those experiences possible and about the process of shaping these technologies. Design of any artifact and system is complex and has to satisfy many requirements, needs, wants, and desires, which means that it is not easy to know how to measure the overall success of an interactive system. This means that the measure of success of HCI research is equally complex.

I will not discuss this problem at any length here, only mention one aspect that I frequently see manifested in papers, articles and in phd dissertations in the field.

We might call the artifact or the system that a HCI researcher is developing, studying, or evaluating for the core system and the (social) system where the design will be implemented and situated as the target system (or context or environment). For instance, if an interactive artifact is sup…