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”

My Microsoft Smart Card
“... 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.