November 3, 2020

Designing for Emerging Technologies

To apply natural order and our love of life to the way we create the world. To tap into the most ancient systems and patterns for wisdom as we build tomorrow.” - Adrienne Marie Brown, Emergent Strategy

Technology is in a constant state of emergence. But what about it is new? We are just finding new ways of adapting to age-old problems. The core of what this chapter gets at in my interpretation is that we are using these tools, technologies, skills, curiosities to discover what was always in front of us. To take the data quite literally at our footsteps and change it into action in the world.

The owners are there six days a week, and the store had been open for years, yet they had never noticed this behavior until they actually saw the data. [232]

But before we can do that we need to change our approach to prototyping to test these interactions. In this realm, there is no direct path of knowledge but similar to how everything is a system buried within a system, the skills needed to prototype for emerging technologies lies in developing a nested design technology skillset that gives you the technical tools and research structure needed to theorize and test in real-time. Emergent technologies will always sit at the forefront of what is possible and developing, so in order to design for them, our skills must as well.

How this relationship changes in designing for emerging technologies is that the materiality in which the designer is designing with the technology and data itself… you just have to learn them as you go and slowly build your skill set as you encounter those problems. [227]

“All of this imagining, in the poverty of our current system, is heightened because of scarcity economics. There isn’t enough, so we need to hoard, enclose, divide, fence up, and prioritize resources and people. We have to imagine beyond these fears. We have to ideate—imagine and conceive—together.”- Adrienne Marie Brown, Emergent Strategy

Our current technological thinking is dominated by a minority of voices creating the technological landscape that we mold our behavior too. It’s important that a diversity of thought is considered in who learns these skills and designs these products. As technologies emerge, I think the larger question than what is the “right” thing to enter our lives is Who is deciding what is right, what is disruptive. The author of this article seems to think that this is something that is decided or can be controlled. We can ensure, and we can’t be certain, that’s how we got to where we are now.

These products are entering our lives and we’re going to be certain that when they do, we ensure that they’re the right thing to enter our lives and they’re doing it in the least disruptive way possible. [236]

Furthermore, I’m not inclined to trust his opinion on this matter. Over the course of this reading, he constantly used his girlfriend’s disinterest in his work as a foil for his achievements. While this is only a mild form of sexism, I find it indicative of the underlying issues in the people deciding what is right and disruptive in this space.

October 22, 2020

Next steps in Human-Computer Interaction

“We cannot achieve what we cannot imagine.”

One of the things that struck me about this paper was the tentativeness of the authors to define what the protopian version of these technologies might be. I am grateful that they acknowledge challenges of the current cultural and social issues that surround the development of these technologies, but I often find myself wondering "okay we know its bad now... how do we build the bridge to where we want to be."

The people conducting and researching the tools and technologies they talk about, could also share insight into their hopes for the field. In this way, they could define the space, "north stars," to guide these technologies and the people that create them in more protopian directions.

October 20, 2020

Designing the Behavior of Interactive Objects

Any interaction is imbued with personality. We apply anthropomorphic qualities to objects in our everyday life whether that's calling malfunctioning machines names or applying gender characteristics to everyday objects. What the focus of this paper is researching whether these type of interactions can be created and studied.

It's interesting that they choose this area to focus on for their research since while common, I think most people just want a sofa to be a sofa. While users did start to form expectations of the sofa's, I feel that the novelty of these interactions would fade quickly over time.

October 2, 2020

The Perception of the Environment

Meaning is there to be discovered in the landscape, if only we know how to attend to it.

As undergraduate, I took a course called Landscapes in Literature because I assumed we would be reading about "happy daffodils dancing in the wind" (Wordsworth) or treks through foggy heaths (Brontë), but the professor had a similar outlook to Tim Ingold on what constituted a landscape in literature. We started off with "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman working our way to "A Journal of a Plague Year" by Daniel Defoe. Both of these works in particular deal with how mental or physical states affect their perception of the environment that they live in.

A key part of the class was writing about the meaning of landscapes depicted in the works that we read. The professor encouraged us to write the most "BS papers you can. Make me believe it." when interpreting the text. This caused me take both a critical and creative eye to the texts I was reading. Critical to discover what are the patterns of the landscape, and creative to convey meaning to the those patterns.

October 2, 2020

Phenomenology in HCI

Extremely simplified, experience is limited to the bodies capability to experience. Perception is the interpretation of that experience. Consciousness is how our perceptions construct our reality. Phenomenology is the interaction and dissection of these constructs.

I found this article interesting because while never directing mentioning this article touched on many of themes present in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, who is sometimes referred to as the philosopher king. Additionally, I would consider, The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, a HCI design specific application of these principles. I will explore these connections below.

Phenomenology, Meditations, and the everyday.

II. XV — All is as thinking makes it so.


III. X — Remind yourself too that each of us lives only in the present moment, a mere fragment of time: the rest of life is past or uncertain future.

Consciousness as a temporal structure. Here Aurelius is exploring how our "primal impression" is the one that grounds us in the present. And to spend too much time in "retention" and "protention" phases detracts from the experience of now ~ where the melody lives. As designers I interpret this to mean, give only the information that is needed in the present, in consideration of past and present but not overvaluing.

IV. IV — Constantly bring to mind all that you yourself have already seen changed. The universe is change: life is judgement.


IX. ILII. II — You will find that none of these who excite your anger has done anything capable of affecting your mind for the worse: and it is only in your mind that damage or harm can be done to you — they have no other existence.


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