Week 6: What is this thing called HCI?

Thanks everyone for such a fun session – I enjoyed it – hope I didn’t jump around too much 🙂

We started with our sharing activity sharing papers that ‘exemplify HCI’ to each other, and then sharing about the paper we heard with a new partner. Hopefully this got you used to the, sometimes difficult, practice of giving coherent descriptions of papers, get a sense of the range & diversity of papers in HCI, & get a sense of the ‘chinese whispers’ effect – it might be interesting for you to take a quick look at the paper that was last explained to you!

We then mapped some of the commonalities of the papers, and it was particularly interesting for me to consider the difference between papers that exemplified ‘HCI’ and papers with more of a ‘Digital Civics’ flavour, and the perspectives that the latter tend to favour.

We then split into four groups to discuss and share the readings from this week. I then asked you to create a poster and make a 5 minute pitch presenting your reading back to the group. You all had some really great insights about the different perspectives in the papers, and it was particularly interesting for me to see how they were positioned historically. We talked a bit about these perspectives being a tool for thinking – this reflects Pete’s reflection from last year which I thought it would be interesting for you to see:

“One of the things I took home was that one way to understand these very different papers is as different ways of looking (different perspectives) on the complex phenomenon which is people interacting with and through computers. Which perspective is most pragmatically useful depends on the question being asked and the type of answer one is looking for. We talked briefly about a tool box metaphor as an alternative to trying to reduce the different perspectives to one “correct” one. The different perspectives that these papers take relate to some of the different disciplinary practices that make up the HCI community and which you might experience in team-based projects. Its part of the fun and the value of HCI research as well as the frustration.”

Here’s a gallery of your photos:

Alexandra, Sami and Anderew – HCI as Science

Peter and Irina – HCI as Problem Solving

Jack, Adam and Hattie – The Turn to Practice in HCI

Colin, Bobbie, Mohaan and Agata – Staying Open to Interpretation

Tasks for next week:

You’ve been given different groups for next week’s session: Pervasive & Invasive: Ubiquitous Computing. I gave you hard copies in the session but they’re also in the onedrive folder.

Group 1: Colin, Peter, Alexandra – Ubicomp’s colonial impulse (Dourish and Mainwaring)

Group 2: Jack, Bobbie, Irina – What next, ubicomp? (Abowd)

Group 3: Vasileios, Andrew, Mohaan, Hattie – Yesterday’s Tomorrow (Bell and Dourish)

Group 4: Sami, Adam, Agata – Moving on from Weiser’s Vision (Rodgers)

It would also be good if you could have a quick look at the “classic” text by Mark Weiser The Computer for the 21st Century (also in the OneDrive folder). This is one of the most cited articles in HCI ever.

As usual there’s two tasks for next week:

(1) Individually read your set paper over the coming week, following the tips and tactics briefly discussed in this first session, and there’s details on close reading on the Resources page.

(2) Identify one paper that is an “example” or “case study” of a ubicomp application. Choose a paper that describes a technology you find interesting OR a paper that describes a system that you find troubling and invasive (or both!). To find examples, go to the UbiComp conference proceedings pages on the ACM Digital Library – there’s also a link to this on the Resources page

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