The @cityuni_hcid seminar series has been rebooted, with seminars now being held on the last Thursday of the month via Zoom. This month @alxndrt will talk about designing assistive technologies in ‘The Capacities of Interaction’. Sign up here: https://t.co/UH28xXjnMh #design #HCI pic.twitter.com/JBn0YEkaIZ
— Interaction Lab (@cinteractionlab) November 18, 2020
— Katherine Isbister (@kcisbister) November 19, 2019
Fantastic talk from our ‘Data Bodies, Social Objects’ panel on Wednesday AND a fantastic turn out! 👏👏
— S1 Artspace (@S1Artspace) November 29, 2019
Really delighted to have presented at Design informatics this week.
“The grid/table partitions, breaks down bodies & labour. The grid/tables remake the body as an integral part to new infrastructure. The grid/table acts as a regulatory or disciplinary structure, dictating the possible” @alxndrt shakes the core of @DataCapitalEd @DesignInf pic.twitter.com/73tqu2ovLf
— chrisspeed (@chrisspeed) September 26, 2019
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.
“Table“work is the new “field“work… getting together for #HCID2019 #DesignForGood and making all kinds of connections. @alxndrt @daria_loi @tripsandflips_ @chrisspeed @racheleclarke @jaz_off and now time to listen to Daria and stop finding folk on Twitter… pic.twitter.com/nxHF3PUzJb— Ann Light (@StrangertoHabit) June 18, 2019
The kind of communication that can occur without words is rich and deep. Why do we persist upon diminishing the power of those who cannot speak? @alxndrt #HCID2019 #DesignForGood pic.twitter.com/ORtz5GmUcW— chrisspeed (@chrisspeed) June 18, 2019
I had the pleasure of presenting as part of our very own HCID Seminar Series in November. I took the opportunity of trying out some early ideas about tables, a little clumsily testing out ideas of how tables have been used in the recording of bodies, from the slave trade to the algorithmic modes of bodily accounting so pervasive today.
See the abstract for the talk below.
The act of reading across and down, through the coordinate grid, to find information is a generative act. […]
This is not trivial, but essential, to the performative capabilities of tables.
ABSTRACT: Through a number of routes, I’ve found myself thinking about tables, the kinds of tables with columns and rows. These tables lie behind so much of the proliferation of data and computation we are witnessing in contemporary life. They are also core to much of the work we do as researchers and designers. Yet too often we neglect the lively nature of these ordering technologies (Drucker 2014). In offering a practical solution for sorting and organising pretty much anything (e.g., numbers, times, dates, names, events, journeys, bodies, etc,), we overlook how they afford and authorise very particular ways of making matter matter (e.g. Rosenthal 2018; Wernimont 2018). Take Excel. The tool’s powerful capacities for ordering items in a seemingly infinite number of rows and columns—setting various systems of organisation against one another—is in no way inert. The explicit or implied hierarchies, the categories and comparisons, the roundings up or down, the spatial and calculative transformations, etc.—altogether, they are, already, telling a story. They are, if you will, technoscientific “worldings” (Haraway 2016).
I want to use this talk as a forcing function to explore this line of thought and the relevance it might have to the design of interactive systems. For now, my view is that much is to be understood from the close examination of ‘tables-in-action’. I believe we might discover many of the assumptions and biases we have in interpreting data and conducting research by attending to what we do with our tabulating practices—practices that, at first glance, appear so neutral. With this as a starting point, my hope will be to imagine worlds otherwise. To imagine intervening in the ways we work with tables so that we might extend and multiply the worlds we make possible.
- Drucker, Johanna. Graphesis: Visual forms of knowledge production. Harvard University Press, 2014.
- Haraway, Donna J. Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press, 2016.
- Rosenthal, Caitlin. Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management. Harvard University Press, 2018.
- Wernimont, Jacqueline. Numbered Lives: Life and Death in Quantum Media. MIT Press, 2018.
Very excited to see @alxndrt and @abigail_durrant present today in #feministfigures you both rocked! Not my best pic of the day but I really wanted to show this slide with #Haraway’s game of cats cradle in the background #EASST2018 pic.twitter.com/JWRqn34k0F
— Dr Amanda Windle (@anotherwindle) July 25, 2018
Modelling cells in/with risky comakings and devious worlds
We use String Figures and Involutionary Momentum to “read against the grain” of a contemporaneous biology characterised by reduction. Working through the design of a tool that models cellular stability, we spin a yarn of “affectively charged” relations between researchers, cells and technologies.
Drawing from her foundational studies of biology, Evelyn Fox Keller (2009:301) writes of a complexity and connectedness that might just characterise our “devious” world(s). She has traced threads through biology for over 40 years, drawing attention to—amongst other things—how it has often resisted the explanatory powers conferred upon its counterparts in other natural sciences. A pragmatic approach has dominated, she extols, in which unknowns have been a part of biology’s messy reality.
Looking ahead, to the deepening entanglements between biology and computation, we find contemporaneous imaginaries surrounding cellular life to be testing this lineage. Certainly—as Keller herself has reflected—computation makes possible very particular modes of understanding, ones conforming to the “reductive, mechanistic, and adaptationist logics” that characterise a prevailing neo-Darwinism (Hustak & Myers 2013:77).
In this paper, we wish to cut across what on the face it appears to be biology’s narrowing move. By ‘looking askew’, we hope to ask more about biology and whether or not it is being rendered computational. Examining a project invested in the computational challenges of modelling cellular stability, and relying on the “risky comakings” (Haraway 2016:14) between actors, algorithms and computational tools, we stay committed to the troubles enlivened by knotted relations. We use two feminist figures, Haraway’s String Figure, and Hustak and Myer’s Involutionary Momentum, to (re-)tell a story of unfolding relationships between researchers, cells and technologies, spinning a yarn of “affectively charged” (Hustak & Myers 2013) relays and knottings that resist singular figurings.
Haraway, D.J., 2016. Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.
Hustak, C. and Myers, N., 2012. Involutionary momentum: Affective ecologies and the sciences of plant/insect encounters. differences, 23(3), pp.74–118.
Keller, E.F., 2009. Making sense of life: Explaining biological development with models, metaphors, and machines. Harvard University Press.
I just dug out my old Audrey, a computer appliance designed for the home released in 2000 and then canned in 2001. What a shame to think a device with such thoughtfully designed software and hardware was so quickly relegated to the dust-pile of e‑history. Anyway, seeing Audrey reminded me Laurel Swan and I presented a paper on Audrey at 4S in 2005 titled “Audrey, Anyone?” The abstract is below. We did manage to interview some of the original designers on the team including Ray Winninger. However, things got the better of us and we never wrote it up in finished form. Here’s the abstract we wrote:
— Karen Newman (@karen_new_) November 7, 2017
— Ernesto Priego (@ernestopriego) October 20, 2017
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.
— Data Publics (@datapublics) April 2, 2017
I presented at the Data Publics conference last weekend, at Lancaster University. Got lots of helpful feedback to some early thoughts on publics (thinking with some of my old favourites, Despret, Haraway, Marres, Stengers, etc.).
Provoked by Vinciane Despret’s “W for Work”, in “What would animals say if we asked the right questions?”, my starting point was the question:
with data publics?