HCID Open Day 2019

Great to be part of this year’s live­ly HCID Open Day, and present a short paper: 

Liv­ing a larg­er life together. 

ABSTRACT: I want to use this talk to think in broad­er terms about design­ing for good — to ask the ques­tion: “are we think­ing and doing well with design?” 

Step­ping through a num­ber of exam­ples, I’ll invite us to reflect on some of the core tenets in UX design and HCI, ideas like human cen­tred­ness, medi­a­tion and aug­men­ta­tion. Though valu­able in mov­ing us on from a prob­lem-dri­ven and high­ly instru­men­tal ver­sion of design to some­thing much more invest­ed in people’s rich expe­ri­ences, I’m going to pro­pose such ten­ants are now lim­it­ing our imag­i­na­tions. They have us nar­row­ing our atten­tion, plac­ing the empha­sis on the human’s capac­i­ties to act in and on the world. In oth­er words they cre­ate the con­di­tions for a util­i­tar­i­an indi­vid­u­al­ism, and leave lit­tle space for a design open to the always entan­gled inter­play between a full-range of human and non­hu­man actors. 

I’ll argue that there is an alter­na­tive, much more gen­er­a­tive way of think­ing about and mak­ing with design, one that is com­mit­ted to a rela­tion­al becom­ing. This is an idea of rela­tions that does­n’t reduce design to a prac­tice that is good for the cen­tred human, the human sur­round­ed by tools that medi­ate or aug­ment inter­ac­tion. Instead, it is to recog­nise the cor­re­spon­dences, inter­de­pen­den­cies, con­tin­u­al attune­ments and co-mak­ings between diverse enti­ties. It is to ask: what it might be to cre­ate the con­di­tions for more to hap­pen, what a design would look like that holds open the space for rela­tions to pro­lif­er­ate and much more var­ied forms of life to come into being. This I want to pro­pose is a design for good, a design that is full with the hope of liv­ing a larg­er life together. 

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