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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