“The promiscuity of interaction”

This is a brief com­ment on a meet­ing Bar­ry Brown and I host­ed at Microsoft Research Cam­bridge, titled .

“Inter­ac­tion as a a promis­cu­ous con­cept”: it’s Stu­art Reeves’ phras­ing that nice­ly cap­tures the sen­ti­ment of our small meet­ing’s dis­cus­sions. The col­lec­tion of short talks and the empha­sis giv­en to talk­ing (and not just lec­tur­ing), gave rise to a lan­guage of crit­i­cal but pos­i­tive reflec­tion. Rather than delib­er­at­ing on an ‘after’ or ‘post’ inter­ac­tion turn or wave in HCI, inter­ac­tion was seen to still offer a great deal. The con­sen­sus (led by posi­tions from David Kirk, Abi Dur­rant , Bill Gaver and Stu­art) was it pro­vides us with a device or machin­ery in com­mon, and, con­cep­tu­al­ly, there remains much to do with the word that keeps us open to new domains and indeed new (design) pos­si­bil­i­ties. Here, I’m remind­ed of Isabelle Stengers use of the phrase a “tool for think­ing”. It cer­tain­ly appears inter­ac­tion (still) pro­vides us with just such a tool.
And yet I felt there was a shared frus­tra­tion (more…)

See this post as one source for the discussion.
Kind­ly attend­ed by, Andy Bouch­er, Bar­ry Brown, Rob Comber, Anna Cox, Abi Dur­rant, Bill Gaver, Elisa Giac­car­di, Kat Jung­nick­el, Dave Kirk, Airi Lampinen, Eric Lau­ri­er, Lucian Leahu, Chris­t­ian Licoppe, Dave Mar­tin, Mike Michael, Mar­i­an­na Obrist, Stu­art Reeves, Yvonne Rogers, Francesca Sal­vadori, Anja Thieme, Tony Weis­er and Alex Wilkie.
Stu­art has post­ed the notes to his talk here. He has sug­gest­ed this as a com­pli­men­ta­ry read­ing: Ander­son, B. and Shar­rock, W. (2013). Post­Mod­ernism, Social Sci­ence & Tech­nol­o­gy.
Abi ref­er­enced the piece “Edge Town” by Hook­er and Kitchen (2004), in her short talk. She has also sug­gest­ed E. M. Fos­ter’s ‘The Machine Stops’ for fur­ther read­ing. As she explains: [t]his is because this novel­la con­veys the ideas we dis­cussed about mak­ing-and-describ­ing the macro and micro fea­tures of a world (of com­plex medi­at­ed inter­ac­tions) and, dare I say, the ‘local and glob­al’.  (With the 1:1 scale fea­tures of  inter­ac­tion being the stuff that design­ers can real­ly work with. It man­ages to con­vey the com­plex­i­ty of a socio-tech­ni­cal sys­tem through depict­ing a few moments of rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple inter­ac­tion with ‘the machine’.  The sto­ry also presents tru­ly entan­gled human and non human bod­ies and their pol­i­tics, ethics, depen­den­cies, faith — and deals more specif­i­cal­ly with impli­ca­tions around trans­paren­cy with­in those medi­at­ed inter­ac­tions. This is despite being of it’s time and assum­ing cer­tain dif­fer­ences between peo­ple and the nat­ur­al world, and ‘man and machine’.
See, Stengers, I. (2013). Intro­duc­to­ry notes on an ecol­o­gy of prac­tices. Cul­tur­al Stud­ies Review, 11(1), 183–196.