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. 

Seminar talk and discussion with Daniela Rosner

I’m real­ly thrilled to have Daniela Ros­ner vis­it­ing us at the Cen­tre for Human-Com­put­er Inter­ac­tion Design (HCID), and espe­cial­ly excit­ed about her HCID sem­i­nar talk. She’ll be expand­ing on ideas from her book “Crit­i­cal Fab­u­la­tions: Rework­ing the Meth­ods and Mar­gins of Design”, and Ann Light will act­ing as dis­cus­sant. For details see this Eventbrite page

Two fully-funded PhDs

We’re excit­ed to be offer­ing two ful­ly fund­ed PhD Stu­dentships in the HCID Cen­tre at City. See:
Beneath the archive
Under­stand­ing users’ men­tal mod­els of dig­i­tal archives
to inform user-cen­tred design for human­i­ties research
Appli­ca­tion dead­line 20 May 2018.
Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence for Teams
The Future of Col­lab­o­ra­tive Work in Organ­i­sa­tion­al Life
Appli­ca­tion dead­line 27 May 2018.

HCID seminar talk

Six weeks into the new job and I’ve been giv­en a sem­i­nar slot.
Here’s the abstract:

Think we must *

Excerpt, quoting "think we must" from Virginia Woolf's Six Guineas

Vir­ginia Woolf (1938) Three Guineas. Hog­a­rth Press.

It’s been a thrill to join HCID and City and to be wel­comed so warm­ly by many of you. In this talk, I’d like to intro­duce myself in a more delib­er­ate way, spin­ning a thread through my career path that cap­tures what’s impor­tant to me and what has helped me find my way.
Start­ing way back with work at Xerox, and then my twists and turns into acad­e­mia and then indus­try again, at Microsoft, I’ll talk through punc­tu­at­ed moments in my research—about teenagers and their mobile phones; fam­i­lies liv­ing amongst their clut­ter; and neigh­bour­hoods cop­ing with com­mu­nal life and data aggre­gates. What I’ll try to con­vey is how it’s been a think­ing that has ani­mat­ed me through­out this work, a think­ing not always with clar­i­ty and cer­tain­ly a think­ing with many knots and frayed ends, but nev­er­the­less a think­ing. A point I want to reflect on, then, is how ideas thread into our work, weav­ing togeth­er a live­ly tapes­try. I like the way Car­la Hus­tak and Natasha Myers use, invo­lu­tions here as a “ ‘rolling, curl­ing, turn­ing inwards’ that brings dis­tinct species togeth­er to invent new ways of life” (2013: 96).
Through my own invo­lu­tions, I’ll try to use this talk to work my way to a think­ing that has a gen­er­a­tive mode—a mode with both an open­ness and an ongo­ing­ness to it that invites more, always more. For me, this is a mode of think­ing that affects one­self and that demands a care, because it is not just about study­ing the worlds we inhab­it, it is about mak­ing those worlds and the con­di­tions of pos­si­bil­i­ty that come with them. I sup­pose, above all else, this is a talk invit­ing a think­ing of this kind that we might do together—it is to pose an open ques­tion about our think­ing and about what worlds we might make possible.
* My title is inspired by Isabelle Stengers and Vin­ciane Despret who bor­row the phrase “Think we must” from Vir­ginia Woolf, and use it to pon­der gen­er­a­tive­ly on their lives in the academy.

Hus­tak, C & Myers N. 2013. “Invo­lu­tion­ary Momen­tum: Affec­tive Ecolo­gies and the Sci­ences of Plant/Insect Encoun­ters.” dif­fer­ences 23(3):74–118.
Stengers, I., & Despret, V (2015). Women Who Make a Fuss: The Unfaith­ful Daugh­ters of Vir­ginia Woolf. Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press. 

“Keeping open”

“… to keep unpack­ing, reveal­ing, open­ing and uncon­ceal­ing, we need also to think dif­fer­ent­ly. Along­side unpack­ing and con­nect­ing we need to argue for dif­fer­ent worlds to those which dom­i­nate us.” 

I’m delight­ed to be start­ing a new job this Sep­tem­ber at City, Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don. I’ll be join­ing the live­ly Cen­tre for HCI Design (HCID). Both Steph and Simone, the centre’s co-direc­tors, have been amaz­ing­ly gen­er­ous in prepar­ing me for my new role and dis­cussing the direc­tions we might take things in. I’ve also begun to rough out new lines of research with my soon to be col­leagues and I eager­ly antic­i­pate set­ting things in motion. Nat­u­ral­ly my chal­lenge will be to keep a lid on my enthu­si­asm, leav­ing the ener­gy to improve my teach­ing and engage a stu­dent cohort in car­ing about the entan­gle­ments between tech­nol­o­gy and social life—and the thrills and spills that come with such a care. (more…)

From Joan­na Latimer and Bev­er­ley Skeg­gs arti­cle, The pol­i­tics of imag­i­na­tion: keep­ing open and crit­i­cal.