Design-oriented HCI Research through Postphenomenology
Technologies are deeply interwoven into nearly every aspect of our lives. Our everyday experiences—what we perceive, what we do, and how we make sense of the world—are mediated by technologies, and the underlying values that shape their design.
Design-oriented Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is concerned with understanding and shaping human relations with technologies for the better. In this, traditionally the relations between technologies and humans are understood as interactions; and, with the goal of bringing about positive change, design efforts typically put human users at the center of a practical problem-solving process. This humanistic approach, as I looked at it in my doctoral work, can obscure aspects of understanding humans, technology, and the relations that come about between them in the processes of design. Approaching the study of future users and their experiences of newly designed technologies informed by postphenomenology—a contemporary posthumanist strand of the philosophy of technology—opened new opportunities to develop a perspective that helps move beyond an exclusive focus on human-centeredness. Through my body of work, I argue that if the goal of a ‘successful’ design is to bring positive change about for humans, then we ought to understand humans as technologically mediated. This perspective will enable HCI researchers and practitioners to have a more holistic view of the human by taking into account relations that in fact ‘make’ the human.
In this talk I will review three cases that span empirical and design-oriented research inquiries: (i) an ethnographic study of visually impaired people using guide dogs, (ii) a four-year deployment study of a speculative design artefact called table-non-table, and (iii) a review of prior works that give shape to what postphenomenological design might look like in HCI research. This talk concludes with a broader reflection on implications and opportunities for the HCI community.
Once you are inside the Forestry Science building walk to the rear (south-east) of the building by passing through the large open study area and up the stairs to the 2nd level student (“treetop”) lounge area. Turn left, pass through the double doors, and room 2300 will be immediately to your right.