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Thoughts on Interaction Design [Kolko, J.]

February 8, 2010

Taken from: Thoughts on Interaction Design
KOLKO, J. (2010) Thoughts on Interaction Design. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann

Bibliographical Annotation

This book, just published in 2010, is very informative in many ways regarding the development and position of IxD as a discipline. This is a very good, reflective resource but currently I have focused upon the text for specific information and frameworks to explore the aesthetics of interaction. Upon that subject, the text does naturally connect to the HCI community’s own research. This book is firmly in the Interaction Design literature (pp5,7,11), but naturally overlaps both HCI and Visual Communication. IxD is about behaviour, designing it and for it. It is a dialogue that is both emotional and physical, and is ‘manifested in form, function and technology’ (pp12-13). Within the text Kolko draws upon essays written by collaborators. Some of these essays are useful and some are quite weak. But this isn’t a book review.

One essayist, Chris Connors from Apple, discusses the distinction and usefulness of low and high fidelity prototyping (p36). In this section of his essay he discusses areas that Visual Communication plays an early part within the development process. Certainly Vis Com cannot own visual prototyping but certainly non-Vis Com team members use low and high fidelity techniques. These techniques for visualizing data draw upon techniques familiar to graphic designers. Although a tenuous link on the surface, this fact will later help my positioning in my research as a point of contact with the HCI research.

Kolko continues from Connors essay. Not mentioning by name the research area of ‘Aesthetics of Interaction’, he sees an IxDesigner connecting people through technology to the sensory, emotional qualities of data. This he sees these emotional qualities as generally pertaining to the aesthetics (p41) of ‘sensory data’. This phrase is interesting and I may return to explore this at a later stage. Through a discussion on the use of Personas, he equates scenario-based development as sketching of time, akin to visual sketching, as a problem-solving tool. This goes beyond mere visualizing, and into an activity to generate and discover solutions (p47). Abstract and semantic connections can be made through a plethora of visualizing techniques, revealing hidden relationships that need unpacking and understanding through reframing. Visualizing, or specifically diagramming using concept maps or process flow diagrams, synthesizes this information into further generative sketching/model making/prototyping (p64).

Visual form, regardless of the medium for the interaction involved, in Kolko’s view of IxD, is a basic method for communication (p78). This connects IxD to its sister design disciplines. The nature of an interactive artefact, both digital and tangible, means that part of its appreciation and understanding by a user results from affordances and semiotics. These factors are measured within a qualitative design framework. The quantitative disciplines, such as HCI, are moving toward trying to define a framework that would attempt to bridge the disciplines. This is the connection to the research area of ‘Aesthetics of Interaction”. The structure of an experience within an interaction needs understanding, reflection, and evaluation. Experience, and aesthetics resonate emotionally and experientially (p83), but it is easier for designers and audiences to critique and evaluate visual deliverables. The IxD discipline, like other design disciplines, would benefit from looking to its historical precedents, and grow from a gestalt rather than being reductive and assuming purity of disciplinary approach (pp88-89). The resonated with me as in my first paper I unpacked the role of the graphic designer within GUI design, and uncovered the precedent set by Modernists as being fluid to move across disciplines. This is a commonality within mainly qualitative design disciplines too, including IxD. Kolko states that an IxDesigner creates a ‘new visual form language’ where the Modernist design axiom ‘Form Follows Function’ is rejected. This ‘new visual form language’ Kolko raises takes into account that objects have more than the significance of functionality and the signifiers of form, but also an embedded semantic level, that is experiential and emotional (p102). Within this new design space between form, function and experience an interaction takes place.

This conceptual space is physical, cognitive and social (p104), and I would look to explore this further as I believe the HCI research into Pragmatist Aesthetics could also be located in this ‘conceptual space’. The danger is assuming too early that both map onto each other. As semiotics can be divided into the branches of both semantics and pragmatics, it is within this framework that aesthetics can also be discussed. Kolko also draws upon Dewey (p108), who in turn influenced Shusterman’s Pragmatist Aesthetics. As with HCI researchers, IxD designers equally can find Dewey’s Pragmatist philosophy of conceptual use. As a pragmatist view also resonates with Dourish’s theory embodied interaction, a potential conceptual conduit to connect it all together may be Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘Flow’ (p109).

Uday Gajendar, another essayist within the book (who wrote the paper ‘Experiential Aesthetics: A Framework for Beautiful Experience’ I have found useful), adds to the ‘conceptual space’ experiential discourse. He sees the design of/for interaction as a situated activity (pp114, 120), which makes connections to Suchman’s theory, and of embodiment (Dourish) (pp116, 120). Again another designer making the connections between the (until now separated) areas I had been exploring when I began looking into a Designer’s Model. I appeared to have had the sources but not, until now begun to see the connections.

Useful Quotes

There are, however, few texts that explore the semantic connections that live between technology and form which are brought to life when someone uses a product. These connections may be thought of as “interactions” or “experiences”, and are becoming to hint that a field known as Design (with a capitol “D”) is a legitimately separate area of study alongside Science or Art. This text” (p5)

Interaction Designers are trained to observe humanity and to balance complicated ideas, and are used to thinking in opposites: large and small, conceptual and pragmatic, human and technical. They are shapers of behavior. (…) the value of Interaction Design (is) in the development of human-centered designs and in the creation of a framework in which to experience these designs.” (p7)

Interaction Design is the creation of a dialogue between a person and a product, service, or system. This dialogue is usually found in the world of behavior (…) Structuring dialogue is difficult, as it occurs in a fourth dimension – over time. To design behavior requires an understanding of the fluidity of natural dialogue, which is both reactionary and anticipatory at the same time.” (p11)

Design work is of function, and language, and meaning. Through visual and semantic language, a designer must create a design that assists the viewer not only in experiencing a particular emotion but also in truly understanding the content. (…) Interaction Designers, however, speak both words and form at once. They structure a compelling argument and invite the audience to share in their work. The work evolves over time, and the work is completed by the presence and synthesis of the audience.” (p11)

Interaction Design is the creation of a dialogue between a person and a product, service, or system. This dialogue is both physical and emotional in nature, and is manifested in form, function, and technology. (…) This is the purpose of the profession: to change the way people behave (…) attempt to ease the suffering of their end user.” (pp12-13)

to reposition the the field of Interaction Design away from a solely technical field or an artistic endeavor, and instead towards a duality that emphasizes the human side of technology.” (p13)

FRAMEWORKS

Those engaged in HCI activities – Interaction Designers – exist to ask these difficult questions, and to create frameworks for compelling experiences rather than technical experiences. Interaction Design has outgrown its computing roots, and is now a field responsible for humanizing technology (…) to tame the complexity created by technological advancements.” (p#)

[CHRIS CONNORS, Apple]
process drives repeatability – reducing the reliance on inspiration – and creates a framework in which creative professionals can execute. (…) Most designers are used to employing a design process, most likely the one employed by their source of design or studio training (…) to adopt and standardize a single process, define the range and types of deliverables for each process phase, and then, consistently apply it.
” (pp31-32)

[CHRIS CONNORS, Apple]
It’s not uncommon to find a method or algorithm that initially seemed viable in practice might not scale adequately or offer the required performance, causing engineers to have to re-think their approach. [sic] Should designers find themselves in a state where they need to re-assess assumptions, use this common ground to build rapport, assess schedule impact, and move on.
” (p32)

[CHRIS CONNORS, Apple]
What agile methods offer designers are an opportunity to design the product in a broad sense, and then the chance to execute designs in manageable sections over the development cycle. Designers may have to do some selling in order to convince developers to afford them some time up front to get ahead of the development cycle
” (p33)

FIDELITY

[CHRIS CONNORS, Apple]
Prototypes can be high or low fidelity visually – hand drawn vs pixel accurate renderings. The navigation can be high or low fidelity in terms of breadth or depth. They can also have high or low fidelity interactivity, and perhaps most importantly, high or low fidelity data, where high fidelity data might represent an actual data set and low fidelity data might be a few spoofed data elements – “loren ipsum” rather than actual text, for example. (…) A low visual fidelity prototype with high fidelity depth can help evaluators elicit user responses to an entire process through an artifact.
” (p36)

PERSONA

the field in and of itself has nothing inherently to do with computers. Instead, the field is best thought of in terms of a methodology, and the major contribution an Interaction Designer can provide in a business setting is a strong process that connects people, technology, and the emotional qualities of sensory data (generally pertaining to aesthetics).” (p41)

The process of human-centered design relies havily on modeling target users in an effort to create a prototypical audience for design. A model is a representation of a real thing, and a model of a user is a representation of a real person. A basic form of model that has been embraced by Interaction Designers and is created in the initial stages of a project is the Persona. (…) The Persona begins to become an active member of the design team.” (p45)

Traditional user-research can, and should, inform the creation of the Persona. (…) A good Persona is rich with detail and is thus predictable, in the same way that one can predict the actions of a friend or loved one. While these predictions may not be right all the time, it is possible to anticipate with some degree of accuracy what an individual will do in a given situation.” (p46)

The use of scenario-based product development has several core benefits. (…) As behavior exists in the fourth dimension, these scenarios become sketches of time. Industrial Designers and Graphic Designers can quickly explain the value of visual sketching in their design process: Sketching is a problem-solving tool, used not simply to visualize ideas but to actually discover and generate a large number of solutions to a problem.” (p47)

A design solution is judged based on the relevance to the individual who ultimately must use the creation.” (p48)

Participant observation is an important aspect of Interaction Design, as it formally acknowledges that a product does not exist in a rational and substantial way until it is considered by an audience. (…) The product needs to fit appropriately into the culture in which it is to be used and sold.” (p49)

People have a very hard time explaining why they do the things they do, and human behavior often seems illogical when considered by an impartial observer. Therefore, interpretation – making meaning of gathered data – plays a critical role in translating research into valuable design criteria.” (p50)

FOCUS

Focus is the acknowledged pre-set view of what is going to be addressed through the ethnographic inquiry. It gives the designers a central topic to attend to and a statement to rally around. (…) A focus statement takes the conceptual approach of framing an enquiry.” (pp50-51)

CONTEXT

To understand context, go to the place where work occurs: Go to the users, rather than bringing the users to you, and watch what they do as they conduct real work. So simple, yet so evasive.” (p51)

People do strange things – unexpected things – and being there to witness and record these minute and quick moments of humanity is simply invaluable to the product development process. These details trigger design insights, and the equally important rationale to back up the design decisions to other members of the design team.” (p51)

As the goal of a Contextual Inquiry is to gather as much rich data as possible, it is important to reject this logic and become an active participant in the inquiry. This participation takes the form of partnership, and is likened to that of a master and apprentice in the days of guilds. An apprentice did not sit quietly and observe. He became engaged, and tried things, and questioned things, and assisted in the process.” (p52)

Experience is a guide to better understand when to ask questions and when to remain quiet, but a master and apprentice relationship will allow an investigator to best understand the nuances of work and truly gain the confidence of the participant being observed. Interpretation, or the assignment of meaning to fact, is a subjective form of synthesis. It is also the most critical part of the Critical Inquiry process, and the portion of the process that is ignored with the most frequency. (…) Interpretation occurs in context, but the critical interpretation often occurs back in the “lab” – in the design studio, while the designer is sketching. [] Interpretation is qualitative, and can be wrong. This makes for a diificult combination when trying to justify design decisions.” (p52)

Frequently, interpretation occurs in the head of the designer. This “moment of epiphany” may be thought of in the shower or scrawled on the back of a napkin. The Interaction Designerunderstands the importances of structuring this interpretation into a repeatable and formal process, and a good Interaction Designer is able to communicate not only the pragmatic interpretation but also the necessity of interpretation.” (p52)

SYNTHESIS, CONSTRUCTION AND REFINEMENT

These phases, while highly intellectual, also require the “designer’s intuition” and frequently rely on rapid ideation sketching, additional narrative development, and mind mapping as a generative method of problem solving and concept development. (…) a designer works through both a convergent and a divergent thought process of ideation. Convergent thinking attempts to locate the best answer (…) Divergent thought implies a great deal of risk. One must shift perspectives away from the safety of familiarity in order to explore what “could be”.” (pp54-55)

FLOW

Design is a creative field, and in order to successfully create, one must achieve a sense of Flow. Flow is, among other things, the absence of self-doubt and the nearly auto-telic and automatic creative process.” (p58)

At the core of an interaction is the dialogue between a product, system, or service – and a person. Design exists as a means to a greater end – enhancing the human experience, solving complicated problems and ultimately creating designs that resonate with their audience.” (p62)

During the process of design, the Interaction Designer attempts to construct meaningful visualizations between individual components in an effort to understand hidden relationships. The ultimate goal of the creation of these visualizations is to understand. By reframing ideas in new and interesting ways, the designer can gain a deeper understanding of the abstract and semantic connections between ideas. These visualizations can then be used to communicate to other members of a design team, or can be used as platforms for the creation of generative sketching or model making. Frequently, the act of diagramming is a form of synthesis, and is a way to actively gain knowledge.” (p64)

FOUR-STEP PROCESS

Design literature frequently mentions a four-step process taken as individuals gain comprehension. (…) This four-step process attempts to move from Data to Information, to Knowledge, and finally to wisdom (DIKW). (…) Interaction Designers can think of this DIKW path as a framework for progressive learning. (…) Making information out of data, a seemingly easy task, is quickly confounded when the designer attempts to integrate elements of aesthetics or emotion. (…) Information is the organisation of data in ways that illustrate meaning. This organization may, in fact, alter the meaning itself. This has an important implication, as the meaning of seemingly objective data is altered by the appearance and structure of that data.” (p65)

While information may be sensory, knowledge seems to be more complicated, and perhaps more experience-driven. Storytelling has a long history as a mechanism of knowledge transfer, and can be considered a rapid immersion in experience. (…) This idea of knowledge as extended dialogue is highly relevant when considered in the guise of experience and Interaction Design. The design of behavior may, in fact, be the design of action-based knowledge (telling a story through motion).” (pp65-66)

Wisdom, often thought of as enlightenment, can result from applying knowledge in a new and novel manner. (…) The acquisition of knowledge obviously occurs over time, and this is where the Interaction Designer excels. Behavior occurs in the fourth dimension, and Interaction Design techniques attempt to understand and, hopefully, shape the way people act over time.” (p66)

DIAGRAMMING TECHNIQUES

The Interaction Designer (attends) to the detail and pragmatic details of UI design only after modeling or understanding the more conceptual behavior – activities or goals – that may drive the usage of a product. Several mapping and diagramming techniques exist to assist Interaction Designers in tracking product use over time. While referenced by various names in various disciplines, they all attempt to create systematic organization amidst complexity.” (p67)

A concept map is a visualization of present understanding of a system. It is intended to represent the mental model of a concept – to allow members of a development team to see the “forest and the trees”. Generally, a concept map links nouns with verbs. It provides a visual way to understand relationships through literal connections as well as through proximity, size, shape, and scale. The tool is intended to illustrate relationships between entities. The act of creation is generative in the sense that the designer must make subjective value judgments on the strengths of relationships. The first step towards creating a concept map is the creation of a concept matrix. This matrix lists all elements relevant to a particular domain (nouns) and attempts to identify which items have a direct relationship. (…) By creating a matrix to illustrate the connections between these elements, the designer is forced to analyze the extent of the relationship. (…) By analyzing each and every term’s connections to one another, the designer is forced to “zoom in” on the details to such an extent that he gains an intimate understanding of a discipline. He can then begin to understand the (sometimes obvious) hierarchy that exists within a large quantity of data. The elements with more relationships become the main branches on the concept map. (…) Once the matrix is created and these core concepts are identified, completing the concept map becomes a rather simple activity of connecting nouns with verbs. (…) As these are added to the diagram, the designer – and eventually, the entire development team – can visually trace relationships between entities and understand how a potential change to one aspect of a system may ripple through the system as a whole.” (p68)

Process Flow Diagrams are another visual form of organizing data into comprehensible systems. Also known as Data Flow Diagrams or Decision Tree Diagrams, these diagrams have traditionally been used in the fields of electrical engineering and in computer science to illustrate the logical flow of data through a system. To create a Process Flow Diagram, an Interaction Designer first identifies, through various forms of ethnography, the operators in a system and their roles. These operators include many of the nouns as present in the Concept Map. Then, the “logic flow” is mapped out to connect the operators with actions. (…) By creating a Process Flow Diagram, the designer has formed an intimate understanding of the possible logical outcomes of use with a system. While the diagram itself can be useful throughout the project, the act of creating the diagram is of much more importance. Those involved in the production of such a diagram have created a strong mental representation of the boundaries of a complicated system.” (pp68-69)

Both of these aforementioned diagrams embrace the visual over the textual. While they certainly include written words, the visual arrangement of the content creates an arguably more accessible way of examining a system or artifact. The diagrams rely on the use of words as placeholders for ideas, forms or artifacts. language affects organization – and therefore, usability – on a very pragmatic and immediate level. Categorization implies the method that is used to group elements within a larger context. People rely on language in design to encourage simplicity, yet language is often ambiguous and many designers are not adequately trained in the nuances the English language presents. (…) Designers, then, must understand the trivialities associated with the words they select for everything from the labels on a website to the packaging an object comes in.” (pp69-70)

The Interaction designer attempts to construct meaningful visualizations between individual components in an effort to understand hidden relationships. The ultimate goal of the creation of these visualizations is to understand; by reframing ideas in new and interesting ways, the designer can gain a deeper understanding of the abstract and semantic connections between ideas. This understanding can then be applied to the development of a system, service, or artifact.” (p71)

VISUAL FORM

Designers are in the unique position to improve all aspects of human life, including the visual, emotional, and experiential. Interaction Design should be desirable – beautiful, elegant, and appropriate – regardless of the medium chosen to visualize a solution. Visual form can be considered one of the most basic methods of communicating design solutions.” (p78)

Rhetorical issues of form development become increasingly important when considering solutions that embrace technology, as ambiguity of form may negatively impact understanding but may positively affect experience. Many Interaction Designers are deeply concerned with the nature of aesthetics, continually considering why objects look the way they do and analyzing the relationship between particular cultural movements brand identity “formulas”, and trends.” (p78)

Interaction Designers work with (or as) graphic or visual designers to establish consistent sizes, placements, shapes, colors, and styles in order to continually reinforce brand language.” (p81)

Interaction Designers do not consider a designed artifact as distinct from the experience in which it is found.” (p83)

AESTHETICS

As aesthetics and experience are so closely related, it is important to evaluate not only the emotional or experiential resonance in the creations, but also to understand or contemplate the structure of experiences with artifacts. (…) Experience itself occurs (probably continually) during moments of consciousness, as to experience the world or to consider what is occurring in the world at a given moment. (…) Experience as story is the vehicle used to transmit, condense, and reflect on an experience. (…) designers are more fruitful in focusing their efforts on the creation of the structure in which an experience takes place.” (p83)

Interaction Design should be desirable – beautiful, elegant, and appropriate – regardless of the medium chosen to visualize a solution. And while the aesthetic refinement is important to the success of a product, the ability for that product to resonate in an experiential manner will allow that product to remain embedded in and positively affecting society and culture.” (p84)

DEMARCATION

In industry, we put up walls between ourselves and between our clients. We like to classify each other and characterize design as “industrial” or “graphic”. But the discipline be damned: it is our ability to think creatively and broadly, not our physical output (be it words, renderings, or diagrams) that defines us professionally. The focus on a designer as stylist – on the visual aspect of design – is not surprising. The visual is our tangible deliverable, and appears to be our greatest (and only) contribution. It is far easier to “critique” and evaluate the physical characteristics of a product rather than debate the products experience or emotional benefits; we concentrate on the “prettiest” picture instead of the best solution. Designers are traditionally labeled as the “makers” of “pretty things”, and as such, we exist at the end of a long process – not where we belong – at the beginning. This placement forces us into a predestined flow dictated by the establishments of marketing, technology, and aesthetics. (…) Our industry and our educational system are both to blame. We both focus considerable time on creating the tangible instead of the intellectual. (…) Professionals spend the majority of their time competing on the level of “cool” instead on the level of “thought”. This battle to create the most “bling” is detrimental to designers, to design, and to our clients. Our inability to articulate the importance of process means our clients focus on “money shot” renderings while they overlook the basic testaments of user centric design; moreover, as project managers equate design to “pretty pictures”, they gloss over the true usefulness of the discipline: innovation and differentiation.” (pp85-86)

Design is typically described as a visual discipline. However, that is only partly true. Our discipline has historically welcomed disparate professions into our fold like computer scientists, researchers, cognitive psychologists, and business analysts. Globally, however, we tend to forget that this is a historical precedent, not a trend. As such, we should embrace their best practices and processes to achieve successful communication of our visions.” (pp88-89)

The Interaction Designer shapes culture directly through the creation of new visual form language. This semantic view of design – that objects are embedded with more than just functional significance – rejects the platitude of Form Follows Function and instead recognizes the need for emotional and social connections in the human-made world.” (p102)

SENSORY ELEMENTS

While there certainly is a market for “cool things”, some designers find the emphasis on styling and visual aesthetics as superficial – a great deal of the design community feels that the designer provides a deeply intellectual contribution in the creation of the goods, and the sensory elements are only the most immediate “hook” for people to respond to a creation. In fact, there is much more substance to designed artifacts, and it is this substance that allows them to resonate in a meaningful fashion. This substance is what Saussure viewed as the linguistic sign, what Evenson and Rheinfrank viewed as a design language, and what Buchanan considered as the harmonious combination of rational, human, and stylistic. (…) An interaction occurs in the conceptual space between a person and an object. It is at once physical, cognitive, and social. A poetic interaction is one that resonates immediately but yet continues to inform later – it is one that causes reflection, and one that relies heavily on a state of emotional awareness. Additionally, a poetic interaction is one that is nearly always subtle, yet mindful.” (p104)

DEWEY

Author, psychologist, and philosopher John Dewey explains that “Experience does not go on simply inside a person. (…) Every genuine experience has an active side which changes in some degree the objective conditions under which changes in some degree the objective conditions under which experiences are had.” [A] This implies that, while an Interaction Designer may focus on the creation of an artifact or system, much of the “meat” of the experience of use is left up to the person using the artifact or system.” (p108)
(A) Dewey, J. Experience and Education, Free Press, Reprint Edition, 1997, p39

FLOW

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has been analyzing the essence of creativity, and has identified the state of being known as “flow” to be one that encourages a vivid awareness of the moment but an almost lack of awareness of the surrounding environment and task. As Csikszentmihalyi describes, during flow, the sense of self and self-consciousness disappears. (…) Perhaps, then it is useful to attempt to recall not a particular interaction but the beauty of the associative scene.” (p109)

To resonate poetic, the interaction one has with a product should be engaging, appropriately complicated to the given task in order to encourage a mindful state, and highly sensory. But it is important to note that the moment need not be long.” (p110)

FORM

[UDAY GAJENDAR]
There is no question our landscape of human experience has become over-populated with varieties of artificial (increasingly digital) content, (…) all vying for for someone’s attention. (…) Yet each form is an invitation for a personal encounter to interact and thus play, share learn, or create, within a specific context – hence, the emergence of situated moments. Each moment involves multiple layers of sense-making and discovery, as the user perceives and interprets the form, functionality, and style – in other words, the design.
” (p113)

[UDAY GAJENDAR]
Interaction is a generative, constructive phenomenon among a live being, an artificial form, and a context, influencing one’s quality of experience, and facilitating the transference (or mutation) of meaning from the designer to the intended user, as mediated by the product’s qualities and features. Accordingly, a design is not merely stylish, attention-grabbing ephemera but a vital form of discourse augmenting (or detracting) the cultural (and experential) landscape in which we live and thrive.
” (pp113-114)

[UDAY GAJENDAR]
In its purest form interaction refers to a dynamic relationship between reciprocating entities at varying types and degrees of influence: people, environment, natural forces, and spiritual/cultural ideas.
” (p114)

[UDAY GAJENDAR]
Design, in this case, means the conception, planning, and making of “the artificial” (products, services, systems, environments) that serve individual and collective human goals. It is a situated activity, dependent upon the circumstances of use (as well as the conditions of product development). It is also a deeply human enterprise, contingent upon personal skills in imagination, empathy, synthetic thinking, and visual communication.
” (p114)

METAPHOR

[UDAY GAJENDAR]
The human conceptual cognitive system is “fundamentally metaphorical in nature”. (…) So, metaphors are basically conceptual aids to understand abstract entities in terms of concrete objects, thus helping people make sense of the complex, dynamic surroundings. Much of this is predicated upon the “embodied mind” notion of human bodies (and almost symbiotically connected mind) having physical experiences in a spatial orientation, which affects the perception of reality accordingly from that viewpoint. (…) Thus, a metaphor operates through a mapping of conceptual domains, to facilitate the interpretation of the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar.
” (p116)

PAUL DOURISH – EMBODIED INTERACTION

[UDAY GAJENDAR]
Paul Dourish has hypothesized a different take on Interaction Design, that he terms as “embodied interaction”, a new model of interpreting interaction that extends recent HCI research trends in “tangible” and “social” computing. Dourish’s argument is based upon the philosophical framework of phenomenology which is the study of experience and existence, that are intuitively felt and known by factual presence in the world. Dourish contends that embodiment is more than a physical property but is about social presence and participatory status in the world, having an (inter) active role in changing and becoming. Everyday engagement in daily activities and task completion is another core tenet; the setting of action defines the value and manner of the action. Thus meaning emerges from the participation of an individual agent with some object within a setting – a constant negotiation or conversation unfolding. It is formed continuously and interactively, in real-time action/location; meaning is not simply projected or found but instead created and shared through engagement with the artificial. This is a profound view of interaction that shifts the emphasis from the designer crafting the argument, or the interpretation of images, towards the place of action between the user and the object in question, given a situation and the particular lifestyle of the user. This view encourages the designer to regard design as a participatory activity, not simply dictating to the user, but allowing the user to evolve and shape the encounter so it is a co-operative opportunity.
” (p120)

FRAMEWORK

[UDAY GAJENDAR]
In guiding the designer who seeks an effective communication-oriented solution, these views parcel out finer issues for debate and iteration. These are simply ways to perceive how meaning comes to be in interaction, when regarded as a communicative activity. In actual practice, however, an interactive encounter (and thus meaning itself) combines all three views into a dynamic, self-sufficient, whole user experience. (…) A coherent and consistent system of interactions within the framework of design suggests a language of relationship building between people (user + designer, user + other users) mediated by the designed artifice. Value and meaning are deliberated, interpreted, and created via the interactive encounter, at multiple levels: emotional, cognitive, physical, visual.
” (p121)

IxD SUMMARY

Interaction Designers is not about a transient aesthetic. (…) Interaction Designers are trained to observe humanity and to balance complicated ideas, and are used to thinking in opposites in opposites: large and small, conceptual and pragmatic, human and technical. This is not a jack of all trades. Instead, it is the shaper of behavior. Behavior is a large idea, and may at first, seem too large to warrant a single profession.” (p151)

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