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An Annotated Portfolio on Doing Postphenomenology Through Research Products

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In this paper, we argue for framing the crafting and studying of research products as doing philosophy through things. We do this by creating an annotated portfolio of such Research through Design (RtD) artifact inquiries as postphenomenological inquiries. In our annotated portfolio, we first provide an account of the postphenomenological commitments of 1) taking empirical work as the basis of the inquiry, 2) analyzing structures of human-technology relations and 3) studying technological mediation. Secondly, we trace these commitments across six RtD artifact inquiries. We conclude with a discussion on how research products can be seen as an experimental way of doing postphenomenology and how HCI design researchers can work with that. As a result, the presented philosophical framing can be leveraged in HCI research to form a deeper and more dimensional understanding of the human-technology relations we craft and study. This also adds a methodological path to moving beyond foci of use, utility, interaction, and human-centeredness.
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Sabrina Hauser1, Doenja Oogjes1, Ron Wakkary1,2, Peter-Paul Verbeek3
1School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University, Surrey, BC, Canada,
{shauser, doogjes, rwakkary}; 2Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands;
3University of Twente, Netherlands,
In this paper, we argue for framing the crafting and studying
of research products as doing philosophy through things. We
do this by creating an annotated portfolio of such Research
through Design (RtD) artifact inquiries as
postphenomenological inquiries. In our annotated portfolio,
we first provide an account of the postphenomenological
commitments of 1) taking empirical work as the basis of the
inquiry, 2) analyzing structures of human-technology relations
and 3) studying technological mediation. Secondly, we trace
these commitments across six RtD artifact inquiries. We
conclude with a discussion on how research products can be
seen as an experimental way of doing postphenomenology and
how HCI design researchers can work with that. As a result,
the presented philosophical framing can be leveraged in HCI
research to form a deeper and more dimensional
understanding of the human-technology relations we craft and
study. This also adds a methodological path to moving beyond
foci of use, utility, interaction, and human-centeredness.
Research through Design; Annotated Portfolios; Research
Products; Material Speculation; Postphenomenology.
Over the past several decades, research in the Human-
Computer Interaction (HCI) community has largely focused
on utilitarian technological advancements. However, there
have been steadily growing concerns about the limitations
that such a strong focus on utility and functionality can
introduce. In particular, researchers have articulated a
dominantly utilitarian focus can obscure efforts to fully
account for the relations humans have with technology; and,
how technology shapes human experiences in the world. As
a result, there has been emerging interest in the HCI
community in expanding focus beyond interaction and
functionality. Design approaches, such as ludic design [e.g.,
11] and slow design [e.g., 32], are emerging as alternatives
to goal-driven, feature-laden, and productivity-oriented
digital technologies. These works and other recent studies in
HCI have shown that a move to a more contemporary
philosophical orientation is needed to design novel and
concrete interventions that theoretically account for the
complexity of human-technology relations. As a step in this
direction, postphenomenology, and its underlying concepts,
have been utilized as a productive theoretical perspective in
the HCI and design communities [e.g.,
8,30,36,40,55,60,65,68]. Postphenomenology, a
contemporary strand of philosophy of technology that views
technology as mediators of human-world relations rather
than as separated functional or instrumental objects, has been
useful in pursuing these theoretical framings. The migration
towards this philosophical perspective shifts the emphasis of
design research to explore the relations between humans and
things, rather than human behavior or qualities of things in
and of themselves. In recent works, postphenomenological
framework have been helpful in understanding and analyzing
human-technology relations in design-oriented HCI research
[14,40,65,66]. Postphenomenology brings powerful
analytical concepts to HCI and Research through Design
(RtD). RtD, in turn, as an approach and set of commitments
holds potential to ground and make concrete
postphenomenological concepts.
There are similarities and a mutual interest between RtD
inquiries and postphenomenological ones. Both approaches
at their core investigate technologies and the relationships
humans have with them. Further, RtD offers a promising
methodological path to uncovering and investigating mutual
concerns of postphenomenology, to look beyond use,
interaction, and human-centeredness, to form a deeper
understanding of people’s experiences and relations with
technology. The making and studying of research artifacts
provide concrete ways to advance new knowledge on how
complexities of human-technology relations can be
productively approached [14,43,66]. We particularly focus
on RtD artifact inquiries that are able to generate speculation
through their actuality and materiality (e.g., [34]). In line
with work that has come before [43], we see the inquiries of
such speculative design artifacts as an experimental way of
doing postphenomenology or in other words doing
philosophy through things.
In this paper, we want to take a step towards generative
engagements with this conceptual framing through the
creation of an annotated portfolio and subsequent reflection.
Annotated portfolios [5,9] is an emerging method in design-
oriented HCI research that in our case helps bring together a
collection of known designed and studied RtD artifacts
exploring human-technology relations to show how they
align with postphenomenological commitments.
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This work is motivated by two of our previously conducted
RtD artifact inquiries. Our investigations with and through
table-non-table [14] and Tilting Bowl [66] are early
explorations with the conceptualization of our inquiries as
postphenomenological. We provide details of these two
inquiries and their expressions of postphenomenological
commitments as introductory examples. Motivated by these
works, we set out to develop an annotated portfolio of six
other RtD artifact inquiries.
In what follows, we describe related work and detail our
methodological and analytical approach highlighting our
commitments to RtD and postphenomenology. We then
explore postphenomenological commitments in design
research artifacts alongside three themes through an
annotated portfolio. Lastly, we reflect on what our approach
holds for future work in the HCI community.
Postphenomenology is the concrete and empirical study of
the social and cultural roles of technologies in human
existence and experience practiced by an expanding group of
different scholars. This school of thought was initially
developed as a contemporary and empirical strand of
philosophy of technology [1719,45,51,52,56,59,60]. In
postphenomenological studies, philosophy and empiricism
blend, marrying approaches of more traditional philosophy
of technology including phenomenology and American
pragmatism as well as Science and Technology Studies [50].
The postphenomenological approach sees technology as
transformative mediators of human-world relations rather
than separated functional or instrumental objects or
alienating entities [56]. Technologies mediate humans’
experiences and perceptions in and of the ‘world’. The
‘world’ here can be seen as a placeholder for a situational
holistic context such as an environment like a home. It could
also be an interpretation framework, or one’s understanding
of the self. Through technological mediation, humans and
technological artifacts co-shape or co-constitute human
subjectivity and the objectivity of their ‘world’ in any given
situation [50]. In postphenomenological studies, concrete
case examples of technologies are investigated in terms of
the relations humans have with them and the implications
technologies have for the relations between humans and their
world. Examples of studies are investigations of imaging
technologies such as Verbeek’s study of obstetric ultrasound
[57,50]; where he shows the technology’s impact on the
relations between parents’ and the fetus and on the parents’
moral decision-making because the ultrasound co-constitutes
the fetus as a patient, parents as decision-makers and mothers
as environments. Other study examples are the impact of
mobile phones while driving [46] and the mediation of
implanted technologies [1]. In all of these cases, technologies
help to shape both the ‘subjects’ that use them and the
‘world’ they live in.
As focus expanded beyond the office and technologies were
increasingly becoming part of people’s leisure times, there
was a growing need for an alternative value set to guide the
design of technology for everyday life [29,53,61,63].
Emphasis was put on the need to understand the messiness
of everyday life (e.g., emotions, experience, values, new
contexts outside of the office, etc.). In this context, new
frameworks for understanding human “experience” [28] and
“interaction” [7] provided an important foundation. In recent
years, the focus on interaction and the underlying notion of
functionality however has been seen as limiting, not fully
accounting for unpacking the relations humans have with
technology, and also how technology shapes human’s
existence and experiences in the world [8]. As a result, the
HCI community has been expanding its focus beyond
interaction and functionality, and design approaches such as
ludic design [12], slow design [13,32], and undesigning [37]
have been developed opposing a utility-oriented, feature-
laden, and productivity-enhancing development of digital
technologies. A move to a more contemporary philosophical
orientation promises to support the development of
theoretical framings for design that accounts for the
complexity of human-technology-world relations to create
novel and concrete interventions. For example, [8]
discussing Borgmann’s notion of the device paradigm [2]
and the idea of the non-neutrality of technology-mediated
experience [16,69]––a key point in postphenomenology––
raises issues within guiding visions and values in HCI. Odom
et al. [30] grounded in concepts of the philosophy of
technology describe attachment as a key factor in human-
technology relations for future design implementations.
Pierce & Paulos [40,41] informed by phenomenological
accounts and a defined set of human-technology relations
[17] analytically uncover and describe new ways of relating
to and experiencing electricity and also explore electric
materiality. Furthermore, concepts like personal informatics
[35] have been analytically re-examined through the
utilization of the postphenomenological framework to
discuss the changing agency of users. Wiltse and Stolterman
[68] use the framework to analyze the interaction
architectures of instant messaging and file sharing to reveal
how these interactive spaces mediate human activity.
Collectively, these emerging works illustrate that philosophy
of technology is becoming utilized as a productive theoretical
perspective in HCI and interaction design research. Despite
these developments, there is a lack of work that draws on
postphenomenology in a generative way for design. Within
philosophy of technology, efforts exist to make
postphenomenological ideas, concepts, features,
characteristics, and methodology more accessible [37]. There
is now an opportunity to bring these new developments back
to HCI, which is a goal of this paper. We believe a reflexive
engagement with a postphenomenological framing of RtD
inquiries can help with that, given the postphenomenological
focus on the roles technology can play in human-world
relations; and in turn, research artifacts and their resulting
evaluations help advance new knowledge on human-
technology relations [23,24,38]. In this paper, we focus on
RtD artifact inquiries that share commitments to two of our
own RtD studies that we have come to see as
postphenomenological inquiries. We describe these as
introductory exemplars to our annotated portfolio next.
Session 10: Things of Inquiry & Knowledge Creation
DIS 2018, June 9–13, 2018, Hong Kong
In two of our own RtD artifact inquiries [14,66] we went
through processes of framing, reframing and productively
working with viewing them as postphenomenological
inquiries. In this section, we elaborate on elements of the
studies of the table-non-table that allowed us to arrive at that
point. We will also briefly sum up how this framing
developed in our study of the Tilting Bowl.
Figure 1. A cat examining the table-non-table, b. A Tilting Bowl filled
with fruit on a household table. ! Everyday Design Studio
We see both, the table-non-table and Tilting Bowl, as material
speculations [64], which is an RtD approach that centers on
the crafting of a counterfactual artifact to carefully and
precisely inquire into research questions. A counterfactual
artifact is a fully realized system or object that in a use-context
may contradict what would normally be considered logical.
The table-non-table is a table-like structure made of
approximately 1000 sheets of stacked common stock paper.
Each sheet of paper measures 17.5 inches by 22.5 inches with
a square hole die cut in the middle to allow it to stack around
a solid aluminum square post that holds the sheets in place.
Almost entirely hidden, an aluminum chassis holds the
stacked paper about half an inch from the floor, which gives
the structure a floating appearance. When plugged into an
electrical outlet, the table-non-table moves one to two times
per day, at random times, very slowly and for less than ten
seconds. The table-non-table diverts from assumptions
around use-centric, utilitarian ideas of technologies and
technology design, while retaining subtle design qualities
that could enable it to easily fit in everyday domestic settings.
Over the course of four and a half years, we conducted
iterative field studies, reflections, and conceptualizations
that, over time, helped us to better make sense of our research
artifact and the relations that emerged with and through it.
After this lengthy period of time, we came to see the table-
non-table as a successful postphenomenological inquiry. We
drew on postphenomenology to productively shape our capa-
city to theoretically and empirically articulate key qualities
of the table-non-table. This allowed us to look past useful use
to uncover key empirical experiences of living with the table-
non-table and see the more subtle and diffuse mediations of
the table-non-table. The utilization of postphenomenology in
our studying and conceptualizing of the table-non-table
enabled us to frame our RtD inquiry to develop precision and
language for non-utilitarian notions of interaction and
uncommon assumptions of human-technology relations.
In a concurrent research project, we designed and studied the
Tilting Bowl [66], which is a ceramic double-walled bowl
with a hidden motor that lets the bowl tilt occasionally. It is
similar to any other ceramic bowl in that it is food safe and
washable. The Tilting Bowl is counterfactual in that it looks
and functions like a regular bowl except that counter to what
is common to bowls, it tilts. By defamiliarizing such a
familiar artifact through digital technologies, the Tilting
Bowl specifically inquiries into the types and qualities of
relationships beyond use and functionality that may emerge.
We generatively worked with our previously articulated non-
utilitarian notions of interaction, such as intersections and
ensembles [33,62], to guide the design of the Tilting Bowl.
We have been deploying six bowls in the households of
philosophers to inquire into postphenomenological topics
and questions. From this study, novel and rich descriptions
have been emerging with respect to alterity and background
relations with the Tilting Bowl in particular.
Our two investigations offer empirical and reflexive accounts
of human-technology relations and technological mediations
with counterfactual RtD artifacts. Both contribute
argumentative exemplars for the value and use of
postphenomenological concepts and concerns for
considering RtD artifacts in HCI. This helped us see the
productive postphenomenological framing of RtD-inquiries
and made us aware of the similar interest between
postphenomenology and RtD artifact inquiries; and further it
motivated us to explore whether other RtD projects could
similarly be seen as postphenomenological inquiries.
In developing an annotated portfolio of RtD artifact
inquiries, we aim to bring out particularities of enacted
postphenomenological dimensions. A first selection criterion
was that the RtD artifact inquiries were in line with two
methodological commitments to RtD pursued in the crafting
and studying of table-non-table and Tilting Bowl: Material
Speculation and Research Products.
To further elaborate, in material speculations [64], artifacts
are designed to be lived with over long periods and are
crafted to embody research questions or propositions through
what we call counterfactual artifacts. A counterfactual
artifact is a fully realized functioning product or system that
intentionally contradicts what would normally be considered
logical to create given the norms of design and design
products. This countering of norms, opens the possibilities to
empirically investigate multiple alternative existences (or
what-ifs) as lived-with realities of the counterfactual
artifacts. In addition to counterfactuality, material speculations
rely on crafted research products to perform the inquiry.
Odom et al. [34] describe research products through four
qualities of inquiry driven, finish, fit, and independent. The
artifacts are designed to drive a research inquiry; they have a
high quality of finish such that people engage with them as
they are, rather than what they might become and such that
they can fit among other things and into everyday
environments; and lastly, they operate independently in
everyday settings over time. The term and concept of
research products emphasizes the actuality of the design
Session 10: Things of Inquiry & Knowledge Creation
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artifact helping to overcome the limitations of prototypes
when investigating complex matters of human-technology
relations over time, which is of growing interest in the HCI
community” [34:2550].
Our selection process began by first collecting RtD artifacts
without specific curation criteria. We searched for published
articles, images and videos of them and ended up with over
thirty artifacts. We then determined which held up against
the criteria of research products and material speculation. We
made sure that there were published articles or videos of
them reporting on real-world placements or experiences with
the artifacts (e.g., participant deployments or auto-ethno-
graphic self-deployments). We also wanted our chosen RtD
projects to be from various sources, including different design
research studios [70,71] and design researchers [e.g., 27,43].
Next, we offer brief descriptions of our final choices of RtD
inquiries and refer to publications that report on each project
in more detail.
Greenscreen dress (T1&2) is a long-term investigation into
the wearing of dynamic textiles [26,27]. With the use of a
chroma key mobile application, content is digitally displayed
on green fabric. The design researcher, Mackey started with
wearing a green dress and expanded this to other green
garments she bought or made. Mackey et al. report on her
day-to-day experiences of wearing green dynamic clothing
for ten months.
Obscura 1C Digital Camera (T3&4) is a camera with a
concrete housing that would have to be destroyed in order to
view the pictures [4244]. The designer-researchers Pierce
and Paulos have reported on Pierce’s own experiences of
using the Obscura 1C. They produced around 20 cameras of
which 10 were distributed purposefully through craigslist
ads, bulletin boards and local stores. They did not follow up
on the deployment of these design artifacts.
Indoor Weather Stations (M1&2) is a set three objects
aimed at playfully exploring environmental awareness of the
home [6,11,22]. The Wind Tunnel measures gusts of air near
the device and visualizes these through a small fan that
creates storms through paper film trees. Temperature Tape
resembles a measuring tape but visualizes different
temperatures within the home through screen-printed stripes
that change color from yellow, orange, red and black
corresponding with temperature. The Light Collector
measures and recreates the color of the ambient light in the
home. Over 20 sets were batch-produced and deployed to
more than 20 households over the course of a year.
Morse Things (M3&4) are sets of connected cups and bowls
that communicate solely to each other in Morse Code and
over Twitter [65]. They were deployed for six weeks with
designers and design researchers with an interest in the IoT.
Photobox (B1&2) is an antique chest that prints four or five
randomly selected photos its owner’s Flickr collection at
random intervals each month [31,32]. Three Photoboxes
were created and then deployed in three households for 14
months respectively.
Datacatchers (B3&4) are mobile devices that collect and
display topical information about their surroundings (e.g.,
house prices, typical incomes, etc.) [3,4,10]. Scrolling the
wheel one way will display messages and turning the other
way accesses a poll. 100 Datacatchers were deployed for
two months. Two filmmaking teams collected over 2 hours
of footage of the participant’s lived experiences of the
devices in context.
Annotated portfolios are “a means for capturing the family
resemblances that exist in a collection of artifacts,
simultaneously respecting the particularity of specific
designs and engaging with broader concerns” [5]. In the
context of our work, the utilization of annotated portfolios
Figure 2 . The Selected Research Products. Top, Middle, & Bottom (L to R): T1&2. Greenscreen Dress; T2&3. Obscura 1C Digital Camera;
M1&2. Indoor Weather Stations; M3&4. Morse Things; B1&2. Photobox. B3&4. Datacatcher. Image credits: T1&2 ! Angella Mackey,
T3&4 ! James Pierce; M1&2, B3&4 ! Interaction Research Studio; M3&4 ! Everyday Design Studio; M3&4; B1&2 ! William Odom.
Session 10: Things of Inquiry & Knowledge Creation
DIS 2018, June 9–13, 2018, Hong Kong
provides us with a concrete way of showing conceptual
themes we viewed as generalizable to other designs (based
on prior work). As Bowers describes further, Annotated
portfolios are descriptive (of past occurrences) and intended
to be generative-inspirational (of future possibility) with
their primary business constituting a portfolio in close
contact to […] the actual artifacts themselves [5:76].
Annotated portfolios allow for a way to explore what
postphenomenology holds for design researchers by not
simply giving prescriptions.
Alongside concept-driven interaction research [54] and
strong concepts [15], annotated portfolios [5] offers a
method for theorizing in interaction design research. These
approaches are related in their goal of supporting the
development of design knowledge that lies between theories
and instances. Höök and Löwgren [15] explicitly
characterize this as intermediate-level knowledge. Bowers
[5] and Löwgren [25] define annotated portfolios as offering
intermediate-level knowledge for design research. Our work
extends these approaches by providing an interpretive
account of methodological commitments through
annotations of RtD artifact inquiries.
For our annotation process, we developed three themes based
on descriptions of how postphenomenological studies
methodologically operate [50]:
1) Empirical work as the basis of the inquiry
2) Structures of human-technology-world relations
as a starting point
3) Technology co-constitutes objectivity and subjectivity
of any given situation (mediations or implications)
For our annotated portfolio, we analyzed how the selected
research products express these commitments by going
through their respective published works and annotating
them in a lengthy process. From this, we developed our final
annotated portfolio of postphenomenological research
products, which we describe next.
For each of the three annotation themes, we first describe the
postphenomenological commitment and key examples; and,
then describe how the selected research products express it.
Central to postphenomenological studies is that empirical
work is the basis for the philosophical reflection. Rather than
applying philosophical work to technology in a broader
sense, postphenomenological insights are derived from
actual experiences with certain technologies. As
Rosenberger and Verbeek describe, the purpose of the
empirical work is “to investigate the character of the various
dimensions of the relations between humans and these
technologies, and their impact on human practices and
experiences” [50:31]. Empirical work in postphenomenolo-
gical investigations can include both self-conducted studies
and first-person experiences and studies conducted by others.
Frequently the two types of investigations are combined.
Investigating the implications of a technology through a first-
person experiential account is most common in
postphenomenology. Ihde has reported on his experience
with hearing aids [20] and a heart stent [21]; Verbeek on his
and his wife’s experience with obstetric ultrasound [57,59].
An example of a postphenomenological investigation basing
its philosophical reflections on self-conducted study data is
Rosenberger’s investigations of the politics of park benches
and other public-space objects [47,48]. Over several years,
he has collected several hundreds of pictures of public-space
objects from all over the world [49], which he argues are
being designed against homeless populations.
Many postphenomenological investigations are based on
empirical work by others or at least involve such data
alongside self-gathered data. In his investigation,
Rosenberger [46] studies data gathered by cognitive
scientists to make an argument around the mediation of cell
phones while driving including when on speaker phone and
against the use of cell phones in any way while driving.
Although using empirical work by others, Rosenberger
additionally brought in his own first-person experiences in
the study. Wellner [67] also conducts a
postphenomenological inquiry into cell phones, however on
a broader level looking back at the history of cell phones
studying the role they play in contemporary everyday life.
Next, we discuss how research products represent this theme
by describing: What kind of empirical work is done with and
through the selected research products?
The Datacatchers [10] were batch-produced and deployed to
around 100 participants. The researchers were specifically
interested in semi-random approaches to the deployment to
be able to get responses from a broad demographic. They
commissioned a service consultancy to form a deployment
team, who recruited participants at local markets. Once
participants agreed to be part of the study, a package
containing a manual, a charger and a Datacatcher was given
to the participants on the spot. The participants lived with the
devices for two months, after which filmmakers (briefed by
the research team) made a short documentary (1-5 minutes)
of each participants’ experience with the devices.
The Indoor Weather Stations [11] were also batch-produced
and deployed in 20 homes. The researchers recruited
participants that lived near the research studio through
posters in the area and websites of local interest. Participants
first participated in a cultural probe study to encourage
reflection on their indoor climate [6]. After this, the
packaged Indoor Weather Stations were given to participants
either at group events, at the research studio or during
individual drop-offs. Data collection included home visits
and prompts. During the study, the researchers created a
web-platform for visualizing the data of the Indoor Weather
Stations of participating households to enable further
engagement between participants and the devices.
Session 10: Things of Inquiry & Knowledge Creation
DIS 2018, June 9–13, 2018, Hong Kong
Approximately 20 Obscura Digital Camera 1C’s [44] were
created, including packaging and instructional material that
allowed the camera to be stand-alone: they can be understood
and used without scaffolding or interference of a research
team. In such, the empirical account builds on the specific
actuality of this counterfactual and counterfunctional artifact.
In addition, 10 packages were distributed through approaches
such as bulletin boards, local stores, and craiglist ads. Pierce
[39] also reflects on his own experience with the Obscura 1C.
Participants for the Morse Things [65] were recruited
through personal contacts of the research team. The team was
looking specifically for trained designers and researchers
with an expertise in the area of connected things. The
participants received a box containing a manual, instructions
for deployment, a router and three Morse Things (one red,
one yellow, one blue). Participants were asked to describe
what it is like to live with the Morse Things from the
perspective of the things and to create design proposals for
things that could co-exist with the Morse Things. After living
with the artifacts for six weeks and self-reporting on the
experiences, and sharing and discussing the experiences and
design proposals in a workshop, the participants and
researchers were able to speculate on new types of connected
things in the home.
The Greenscreen Dress [26] was studied for seven months
as an autobiographical design and auto-ethnographic study.
The first author incorporated green clothing in her outfits
daily during this time and took pictures and videos that she
shared on social media. The actuality of wearing the dynamic
fabric daily allowed the authors to reflect on real-life
implications of such a technology, e.g. the possibilities and
limitations in expressing personal style.
With the aim of exploring topics such as anticipation,
reflections and re-visitation, Photobox was part of a long-
term deployment in which three nearly identical photoboxes
were deployed in three households for fourteen months
respectively [32]. The participants were recruited with the
requirement of having a large Flickr account. Photobox was
described to participants only briefly to allow for them to
create their own interpretations over time. To collect these
temporal accounts, home visits and interviews were
conducted bi-monthly. This longitudinal study allowed the
researchers to reflect on the mediations Photobox brought
forward with the Flickr archive and on how the artifact took
on different roles over time.
The RtD artifacts that we have discussed are bespoke to the
inquiry and counterfactual in nature. Studies of them rely on
the actual existence of the artifacts and the fact that they can
be taken as is. Through these combined commitments it
becomes possible to study not merely a new artifact, but also
the newly constituted world in which this artifact exists. The
presented studies enable the researchers to inquire into the
lived experiences of this new world. These experiences can
form the basis of uncovering mediations and relativistic
accounts. We will elaborate on how this is the case in our
selected RtD works in the forthcoming sections.
2)# Structures# of# HumanJTechnology# Relations# as#
Postphenomenological studies begin their analyses with
particular technological encounters and the structure of
human-technology relations at play. They then usually move
into an analysis of technological mediations in human-
technology-world relations (theme 3). Ihde, a key pioneer of
the postphenomenological school of thought, argues that we
encounter technologies through four bodily-perceptual
relationships [17]: as an embodiment, as an alterity, through
a hermeneutic, or a background relation. In the next sub-
sections, we will work our way through these four relation-
ships, which are neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive.
A technology is being embodied when a part or an aspect of
the world is experienced or perceived through the
technology. Classic examples that postphenomenological
philosophers have examined are glasses or wearable
technologies such as hearing aids [20]. The mobile phone,
for instance, enables a person to experience a conversation
through a phone; in this case, the phone is embodied and
almost moves into the background [46]. In embodiment
relations, technologies, or aspects of them, fade to a certain
degree in the background. Ihde describes this as
transparency. For example, if someone has grown very
accustomed to their glasses, they may be barely noticed [50].
When a technology is hermeneutically encountered it is
read’ and reveals a certain aspect of the world to humans
who interpret it. For example, a thermometer lets humans
hermeneutically know that it is cold or hot. Through such
technological encounters, humans receive access to an aspect
of the world by being provided with a representation of it,
which then requires interpretation to be made sense of.
When a technology is being interacted with and becomes
quasi-other’ or ’quasi-autonomous’ postphenomenologists
characterize this as an alterity relation. In this case, humans
interact with a technology whereas the world moves in the
background. Examples that have been used in postphenome-
nology include GPS navigation systems and ATM machines.
A background relation is at play when a technology is
operating but not calling for focal attention; nevertheless, it
is still shaping people and their surroundings or contexts
[17]. Ihde calls this contextual state an ‘absent presence’
when a technology is not directly used but still being
experienced becoming “a kind of near-technological
environment” [17:108]. We are typically not aware of such
technologies when they function or are in operation (e.g.,
much like today’s smart technologies, IoT devices, or cloud
technologies). The technological mediation of background
technologies is often more through the “indirect effects upon
the way a world is experienced” [17:112]. Key examples in
this context that postphenomenologists draw on are semi-
automatic machines, such as a fridge or a heating system.
Collectively, these bodily perceptual relationships that come
about between humans and technology show how technolo-
Session 10: Things of Inquiry & Knowledge Creation
DIS 2018, June 9–13, 2018, Hong Kong
gies in such structural relationships can go from being very
close to the body, i.e. embodied, towards moving further, i.e.
hermeneutic, and further, i.e. alterity, away from the body
towards being unnoticed and moving into the background.
Verbeek extended these relationship structures with three
more cyborg relationships [58] to cover additional contem-
porary human-technology structures. First, in the Fusion
Relationship, a technology merges with the human in a way
that is more intimate than an embodiment relation. Examples
of this relation are implanted technologies like brain implants.
Second, in an Immersion Relationship, a technology merges
with the environment in a way that they are in the
background not for our existence but also interactive
contexts. Examples of this relation include ambient
technologies that detect human presence or smart toilets that
generate health reports. Third, Augmentation Relationship is
an embodiment relation and a hermeneutic relation
combined which is the case with, for example, Google Glass.
Next, we show how research products represent this theme
by describing: What structures of relationships are at play?
Photobox can be seen as dominantly in a background
relation; (indeed, Odom et al. describe the Photobox as a
“background device”). For example, consider the following
quotes from Odom et al.’s participants in which they reflect
on living with Photobox: [It’s] in the backdrop of our life,
not distracting, just there. many of the things we keep
out on the mantle or put up on the wall[32:1968]. Another
participant described the fading into and out of the
background: “it’s awesome to find new photos, but
[Photobox] doesn’t make me crazy to run over and check it
every time I get home. […] I can walk past it. I can come
back later. […] in that way it has quite a different character”
[33]. Importantly, there was a period of time participants
needed to get used to the Photobox in their life and as it is.
Odom et al. describe this in their study: “Despite the relative
simplicity of the Photobox, it provoked a range of reactions
across householdsmany of which were characterized by
initial frustration and disappointment, which slowly shifted
towards acceptance, and pleasurable anticipation
[32:1965]. After several months of living with it, a
participant described the technology as “one that could be
closed up and fade away, not demanding nor requiring the
owners’ attention” [32]. Lastly, human-technology relations
with Photobox being somewhat uncommon in that users
cannot control how often or when it is printing photos can be
seen as entailing alterity aspects.
The Indoor Weather Stations were designed to be part of a
hermeneutic relation. Gaver et al. describe that they “reveal
the home’s microclimate by highlighting small gusts of wind,
the colour of ambient light, and temperature differentials
within the home [11:3451]. More specifically, “[t]he
temperature measure […] tells you something about your
energy use. In my room I was quite shocked at the temperature
difference from one end of the room to the other, how cold it
was in the middle of the room with the central heating on
[6:7]. Similar as with the Photobox, there was a time period
in which participants had to get adjusted to the new (and
different) design artifacts in their lives. A participant
described that the constant whirring of one of the weather
stations changed from being irritating to soothing, something
he only noticed in its absence [11]. Another participant made
the remark that she loved things that “haven’t quite settled
down yet into what they are going to be” [11:3455].
In another remark Gaver et al. [11] describe that they thought
their design artifacts were failing because their participants
were not engaging with them. However, they realized that
there was an attachment that had built while the devices had
found a place in the background: Moreover, even though it
was not uncommon for participants to tell us that they no
longer engaged with the devices after a month or two, they
were still adamant that they did not want to return them, but
preferred for the devices to stay in their homes. They had
become part of the home’s ‘background’ and in a desirable
Morse Things operate mainly in the background but also have
alterity aspects to them. For example, participants thought of
them as having human qualities and as being like pet cats:
present and interactive but not always interested in humans.
One participant “thought the Morse Things would be happy
with their new home, and as [they] made sounds when she
and Noah entered the house, she imagined them to be happy
to see them: ‘they were here and they spoke a little bit and
then we went out for dinner […] we came back […] and as
we entered the door, someone, one of them was like bipbipbip,
and I was like, Oh! He’s so happy to see us!” [65:508].
Greenscreen Dress can be seen as becoming part of a fusion
relationship. Mackey et al. describe how Mackey responded
to the merging of the green garment and her body from her
first-person perspective: I observed that being completely
covered in the green fabric from my neck to my knees was
too strong in that I felt overpowered by the complete digital
transformation of most of my body. Some days I only wanted
a pocket or collar that was green, a green-striped print or
just green pants[26:55]. While physically arguably less
intrusive as brain implants, the fusion of the green garments
was obvious and even overwhelming to Mackey. Her
reflections on responses of the select group of people who
were aware of the study illustrate further the intimate relation
with and through the garments that goes beyond
embodiment: “Only colleagues, friends and family members
intimately aware of this study recognized the greens I wore as
‘active’ and were able to experience the live, AR [augmented
reality] versions of the clothing through my smartphone.
Mostly, this awareness provoked a heightened attention to
what I wore each day and sometimes a question like ‘Oh, you’re
not wearing green today?’ would bring attention to this. I
would respond by pointing to the subtle green leaves within the
pattern of my shirt, or the green hue in my ‘blue’ pant [26:57].
Datacatchers give access to an aspect of the world by
providing a representation of information about the near
environment which users then interpret. This represents a
hermeneutic relation. Additionally, users can move around
Session 10: Things of Inquiry & Knowledge Creation
DIS 2018, June 9–13, 2018, Hong Kong
with the device in hand and see added aspects of their
environment through the devices through an additional layer
of information. This can be seen as combining an
embodiment, hermeneutic and even augmentation relation.
Lastly, the 1C Camera is mainly a background relationship.
With the use being limited towards not being able to access
or experience the images taken with the camera, the 1C has
an absent presence in the life of its user.
Concluding' Remarks'about' Relationship' Structures'in'
Collectively, through our annotations we described the
structures of human-technology relations across our selected
research products. We have shown that artifacts can become
part of several relationship structures and can further entail
subtle relational aspects. Importantly, the novelty in research
products commonly results in relationships and their
dynamics to evolve over time. This way, research products
may, unlike the commonly studied things in post-
phenomenology, cause a low sedimentation or transparency
in relationships. Additionally, research products can also
challenge common postphenomenological understandings of
human-technology relations.
While it is true that any technology can be analyzed for their
relational aspects, we believe that such analyses for RtD
artifacts specifically hold promise for HCI. Postphenomenolo-
gical structures can bring new insights into future RtD
analyses. Traditionally, in HCI there is a focus on alterity
relations. The presented nuanced structures give ways to the
more complex and meaningful relations coming about between
humans, technologies, and the world.
3) Technology# CoJConstitutes# Objectivity# and#
In addition to the structure of relations at play between
humans and technologies, postphenomenology looks at the
accruing implications or mediations. Verbeek [56] describes
mediations happening on an existential level meaning
“[h]ow humans appear in their world” or their actions and
practices, and on a hermeneutic or experiential level meaning
“[h]ow reality [or the world] appears to humans” or their
perception and experience [56:196] (see Figure 3). In this,
technologies work to amplify and reduce human perception
and experience, and invite and inhibit human action and
practices. In other words, this part of an investigation focuses
on how, in the relations that arise around a technology, a
specific “world” or objectivity and a specific “human” or sub-
jectivity is constituted; and what are the implications of that?
Figure 3 Technological mediation (based on Verbeek’s descriptions)
In the previously mentioned study of obstetric ultrasound
[57,50], Verbeek shows how the mediating effect of this
technology can impact parents’ access to the fetus and, in
doing so, shape their moral decision-making. His analysis
also reveals how this technology co-constitutes the fetus as a
patient, parents as decision-makers (subjectivity) and
mothers as environments (objectivity). The questions
guiding our analysis of the research products for this theme
are: What are mediations of the technology in people’s lives?
What kind of ‘world’ (objectivity) and what kind of ‘human’
(subjectivity) is co-constituted by the technology?
Odom et al. share a vast amount of insights about the
mediating or co-constitutional dimensions of Photobox:
While households were initially frustrated by the slow rate
of photos being printed, over time they appreciated how this
pace created time to reflect on an individual image and the
memories it triggers […] participants described how, over
time, the relative slowness of our prototype provoked them
to consider the rate at which other domestic technologies
operate [32:1966]. Further, Photobox provoked some
participants to critically consider the role of technology in
their everyday lives [32:1968] as one of their participants
took a break from Facebook.
Odom et al. specifically speak to the changes in the
experiences and perceptions across Photobox owners
describing how [their] participants’ perceptions of the
Photobox changed over time as it transitioned from a
perplexing and, at times frustrating, device, to one that was
eventually understood and integrated into the homeand
thereafter how, over time, the Photobox supported
experiences of anticipation, reflection, and meaningful
interactions with participants’ Flickr archives[32:1967].
Pierce shares his own account of living with an Obscura 1C
describing a co-constituted subjectivity of himself: “In my
own use of the Obscura 1C, I have occasionally sat and held
the camera while I vaguely imagined what might be inside. I
also have distinct memories of images I believe I captured
but that I know I may never actually see. In several instances,
I consciously chose not to capture a corresponding image
with a conventional camera [39:126]. When sharing a post
on craigslist to offer the Obscura 1C as a form of distribution
[43], Pierce and Paulos also created a reality or world
(objectivity) with the Obscura 1C existing in other people’s
lives. In the post, they asked people to motivate why they
wanted to own an Obscura 1C and how they envisioned
using it. The received responses further support the legibility
of the world created through the artifact.
The Indoor Weather Stations emphasize that the home can
be seen as a microclimate, changing the perception of this
environment. One participant shared: My lightbulb moment
was when I thought about the house as being an ecology
that it’s not a sealed homogeneous box [6:7]. In terms of
implications around the subjectivity of their participants,
Gaver et al. also share unexpected implications: “While the
stations only marginally aroused the kind of investigative
curiosity of the microclimate of the home we had expected,
we found participants using them to make sense of their
homes in other waysparticularly when they could see their
Session 10: Things of Inquiry & Knowledge Creation
DIS 2018, June 9–13, 2018, Hong Kong
own data over more extended time periods than the device’s
replay buttons allowed” [11:3455].
The Datacatchers short statements reveal information about
the surrounding area appearing every few seconds. The
statements are on topics like average housing prices, typical
incomes, and the number of pubs or GP surgeries nearby
[10:1598]. Gaver et al. describe that the statements
simultaneously draw attention to the sociopolitical
topology of the lived environment and to the nature of big
data itself [10:1597]. The Datacatchers were seen by many
of Gaver et al.’s participants as “extending the environment,
however, by adding ‘a new layer to the city with the data and
information that you can’t really see when you walk
around’”[10:1603]. This had an effect on their user
perceptions of the environment. For example, one participant
of Gaver et al. shared:I think the thing that really shocked
me first was what a depressing area I live in, because all the
statistics are about crime and health and how unhealthy the
people are in my neighbourhood and in my community. You
know that immediately starts you thinking: Is this the place
that I live in’”[10:1604].
Participants of the Morse Things study experienced tensions
with making sense of the non-human-centeredness of the
artifacts. Their perspectives of the cups and bowls shifted
back and forth between anthropomorphized and
withdrawn: “While Olivia loved imaginingthat the Morse
Things talked and cared for her and her partner, she realized
that that’s not what they’re saying at all, and they don’t care
about us at all’”[65:510]. Another participant described how
he did not perceive the Morse Things as different from other
cups and bowls, yet mentioned that it may take more time to
understand them and considered learning Morse Code to
follow their conversations. Although the Morse Things were
used in households among other bowls and cups, to hold
food, liquids and trinkets, they garnered special attention.
One participant reported: “I continue to keep trying to grab
the bowls while they are “tweeting.” I don’t know why I’m
doing this, because I can just wait and check Twitter to see
which bowl it was … guess I feel like I might be able to learn
if they have different sounds? Maybe I’ll be able to tell them
apart eventually.”[65:509]. Further, in their proposed design
concepts, the things supposedly co-existing with the Morse
Things were often more human-centred and connecting with
human practices. Through both study engagements,
participants were trying to find new ways to constitute the
relationship between them and the Morse Things.
In the Greenscreen Dress study, Mackey et al. report on how
Mackey’s perception of and experiences with the system
moved from being “gimmicky” to an exploration into
regaining control and expressing identity. In her study, the
color green is constituted as something with virtual potential.
Through this, and through her commitment of wearing a
dynamic fabric every day, Mackey built her wardrobe with
green as a main consideration: “The resulting wardrobe was
a product of rebuilding my personal identity through clothing
that confronted the constraint of green fabric and allowed for
the chroma-keying action to happen”[26:55]. This process
allowed her and her co-authors to further understand the
nuances of green fabrics in combination with the interaction
possibilities of the mobile application: “She used the
sensitivity slider in the application interface to render fabrics
less “effective” to the keying-out, so that shadows and textures
could remain. She found that dark greens and pastel greens
gave a “grainy” effect to the digital content. She found that
sheer materials worked in surprising ways whereby they could
hold a faint layer of the digital content while still remaining
Mackey et al. [26,27] further report on how most of the digital
content Mackey ‘wore’ came from captures from her
surroundings. They describe how she collected and stored
these images and videos as ‘things to wear’. They elaborate on
how she started thinking of these as patterns, similar as how
one would think of patterned fabric. In such, her environment
was constituted as wearable through the system of
Greenscreen Dress.
Through our annotations we have described how the selected
research products mediate people’s lives and worlds, i.e.
shape new subjectivities and objectivities. Investigating
these mediations allows researchers to holistically inquire
into the role of technology in people’s lives. Another
important aspect that the notion of mediation offers is being
able to look beyond human-centeredness. While within
postphenomenology, artifacts are indeed seen for their
mediations rather than their mere instrumental or functional
purposes, the studied technologies do also have clear
functionalities with at times close-ended purposes. This
further highlights the potential we see for RtD approaches to
engage in philosophical work. Where postphenomenological
studies report on the role and implications of functional
technologies in people’s life, e.g. mediations of existing
ultrasound technology, RtD artifacts are often more open-
ended and therefore able to forecast with detailed descriptive
accounts. Importantly, this entails how research products
shift not only existing relations to digital technologies but
may even challenge them and shape new mediations given
their novelty (e.g. new ways of experiencing archived photos
with Photobox, new ways of relating to clothing through
Greenscreen Dress, or new ways of seeing an urban
environment through Datacatcher).
Thus far in this paper we have described and unpacked an
annotated portfolio of research products or RtD artifact
inquiries revealing how they align with key
postphenomenological commitments. We described
empirical approaches across the research products, structures
of human-technology relations they become part of, and,
emphasized that they mediate human-world relations in any
given situation. In this, we have established a postpheno-
menological vocabulary and concepts in the context of HCI
and RtD, and sought to make the argument that research
products can be seen as doing postphenomenology albeit in a
more experimental way. Next, we discuss this in more detail
and describe the constructive roles HCI researchers can take
on in their RtD inquiries.
Session 10: Things of Inquiry & Knowledge Creation
DIS 2018, June 9–13, 2018, Hong Kong
First, we can consider RtD as an ‘experimental’ way of doing
postphenomenology specifically due to its main commitment
of the crafting of an artifact being an integral part of the
inquiry. The actuality and high level of finish of research
products allows them to be encountered and taken ‘as they
are’ which means, in postphenomenological terms, that they
mediate or co-constitute subjectivity and objectivity in any
given situation. The crafting of research products allows HCI
design researchers to investigate human-technology-world
relations and technological mediations by not only studying
them but also taking part in creating them. In this, research
products can also challenge common postphenomenological
understandings of human-technology relations and
subjectivity and objectivity.
Second, the context in which research products are studied is
co-constructed by the choices made around deployments,
which extends postphenomenological ways of studying.
Postphenomenological studies take empirical accounts of
existing artifacts as the basis for their philosophical
reflections. This offers a variety of existing contextual
settings to be studied that have evolved around an artifact.
Postphenomenological accounts often take on first person
perspectives and, in a philosophical nature, are highly
interpretative. This is in contrast to many HCI works that aim
to produce a more objective account of the crafted and
studied artifacts. The artifacts that we have discussed are
unique to the inquiry and counterfactual in nature. In such, it
is not merely a new artifact that is studied but, with it, usually
a newly mediated world’ (objectivity) and human’
(subjectivity). Based on our annotated portfolio of six research
products, we aim to offer an exemplifying (but not definite)
account of how HCI design researchers can take on the
co-constructive and multifold roles in their inquiries (Fig.3).
Figure 4 Constructive roles of HCI design researchers in their RtD inquiries
The design researcher can intentionally choose an
environment (world) for the artifact to exist in (e.g., a
domestic environment with the Photobox and Morse Things
or an urban environment with the Datacatchers). The
researcher’s choices also determine who encounters the
technology. An empirical account can, for example, come
from deployment studies with participants. As described, this
can involve researchers choosing specifically skilled or
trained participants (e.g., design experts in the Morse Things
study, or philosopher households living with a Titling Bowl)
or through introducing an additional interpretive voice (e.g.
the service-design team for recruitment and the documentary
moviemakers for data collection with the Datacatchers).
Further, the researcher can choose to analyze her/his own
experiential accounts as a researcher-participant (e.g.,
Pierce’s experiences with the Obscura 1C and Mackey’s
experiences with the Greenscreen Dress), which further
entangles empirical accounts, design artifacts, and theory.
We believe this type of interpretive empiricism can better
support efforts in the HCI community to reflexively report
on lived experiences, relativistic accounts and mediations.
In summary, research products and their commitments to the
crafting and deploying of artifacts is a generative, bespoke,
and more experimental way of investigating into human-
technology-world relations and technological mediation.
RtD artifact inquiries allow for philosophical reflection
similar to postphenomenological inquires; and, they are also
able to extend postphenomenological methodology in two
ways. First, through their ability to craft the object of inquiry.
Second, through their unique approach to studying
technological mediation, and as a result creating inquiries
that are experimental, generative, constructive, and
anticipative. Accordingly, HCI design researchers can be
seen as performing a kind of radical empiricism through the
design and study of research products.
Through our annotations and further discussions, we hope to
have created a more graspable, design-oriented way of
understanding postphenomenological commitments and
concepts, which can further aid in this process of
purposefully crafting technologies that mediate and become
part of human-world relations. The theoretical nature and
abstract concepts of postphenomenology as well as the novel
way we used this framing impelled us to create a rather text-
heavy annotated portfolio; although we had initially
anticipated it to be more visual. We see an opportunity for
future work to engage with the theoretical foundation and
language we have laid out in a more visual way.
In this paper, we have offered an account of
postphenomenological commitments and concepts through
an annotated portfolio describing and articulating how they
are expressed across a number of RtD artifact inquiries. Our
goal was to advance the idea of seeing the empirical efforts
of research products as an experimental way of doing
postphenomenology or in other words doing philosophy
through things by making this theoretical framework more
intelligible and actionable to other HCI researchers.
Particularly, the utilization of annotated portfolios enabled a
concrete way of showing conceptual themes that we found
could be scalable to HCI research. As a result, these
philosophical concepts can be better leveraged in future HCI
research inquires, particularly with attention to forming a
deeper understanding of people’s “interactions” with
technology and looking beyond human-centeredness.
Moreover, the demonstrated value of postphenomenology
advances HCI particularly in the way it speaks to the
understanding, discussions, and positioning of RtD and more
generally human-technology relation studies.
We thank all the design researchers for allowing us to use
their images of their projects, William Odom for his
comments and help with editing, and our reviewers for their
comments. This research was funded by SSHRC and NSERC.
Session 10: Things of Inquiry & Knowledge Creation
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... However, we also observed that more specific methodological steps and analytical lenses are needed which connect the technical dimension of explanation methods to the ways in which specific explanations lead to particular interpretations by non-ML experts. We found a first indication in recent adaptations of theories of technological mediation in HCI research (e.g., [25,32,66]), where technological artefacts are seen to mediate how people perceive, reason and act in the world. We found a key conceptual framing in Hubig's related philosophy of technology: explanation strategies, which indicate how technological artefacts lead people to infer specific, contextually meaningful sense-making practices [36]. ...
... [47]) and participatory design research methods are called for in this space, we argue that insights from the philosophy of technology similar to Hubig's can contribute novel research trajectories to the ML interpretability space. Consequently, we propose that post-phenomenology can play a vital role similar to its adaptation in HCI design research (e.g., [6,32]), which Frauenberger has referred to as "entanglement HCI" [25]. Integrating post-phenomenological investigations into interpretability research can offer further empirical-analytical opportunities and refine and expand what we can address with the explanation strategies proposed. ...
Full-text available
During a research project in which we developed a machine learning (ML) driven visualization system for non-ML experts, we reflected on interpretability research in ML, computer-supported collaborative work and human-computer interaction. We found that while there are manifold technical approaches, these often focus on ML experts and are evaluated in decontextualized empirical studies. We hypothesized that participatory design research may support the understanding of stakeholders' situated sense-making in our project, yet, found guidance regarding ML interpretability inexhaustive. Building on philosophy of technology, we formulated explanation strategies as an empirical-analytical lens explicating how technical explanations mediate the contextual preferences concerning people's interpretations. In this paper, we contribute a report of our proof-of-concept use of explanation strategies to analyze a co-design workshop with non-ML experts, methodological implications for participatory design research, design implications for explanations for non-ML experts and suggest further investigation of technological mediation theories in the ML interpretability space.
... Postphenomenology originates from the field of philosophy of technology [9] and has in recent years been used in a wide variety of fields to explore humantechnology relations [27][28][29]. Postphenomenological studies are characterised by a blend of empirical data and philosophical insights [30], with the purpose of explaining humans' relations with a specific technology and the implications of these relations [9]. Postphenomenology challenges the black-boxing of technology and technological determinism by investigating the intricacy between technology and humans' perceptions of their environment and their actions [31]. ...
Background: Digitally mediated primary healthcare is increasingly influencing working conditions, raising questions about how digitally mediated patient management is experienced. Aim: The aim of this study was to generate insights, through the lens of postphenomenology, into how digitally mediated primary healthcare affects the work and working environment, by gathering perspectives from primary healthcare professionals who regularly manage patient errands through a digital platform. Methods: Two rounds of interviews were conducted with a diversified sample of primary healthcare professionals at a primary healthcare centre. The first round of interviews was conducted during the initial phase of the deployment of a digital platform for patient management, with the second round conducted a year later (n = 24). The interview transcripts were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Results: Four themes relating to digitally mediated care work were identified: 'positive feelings towards digitally mediated primary healthcare', 'seeing a positive work atmosphere as a prerequisite for change', 'experiencing increased control over the pace of workflow' and 'reconfiguration of previous problems'. Conclusion and relevance to clinical practice: Building on postphenomenology, our study adds to the understanding of how material and symbolic aspects mutually affect the mediating role of a digital platform for patient management. Thus, the results indicate that the experience of using digitally mediated care processes is conditioned by the discourse towards digitalisation at the workplace and the management's approach to and inclusion of employees in the digital transition of primary healthcare, as well as the usefulness and usability of the digital platform. The findings can inform both practice and policy.
... Workshop 1 Doenja Oogjes, a design researcher and PhD candidate in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University uses postphenomenology to move beyond human-centeredness to explore more-than-human design practices [63] and relations with things often utilizing thing-perspectives [88]. Dr. Ann Light is a researcher in the School of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Sussex and the School of Arts and Communication at Malmö University. ...
... 18). Hauser et al (2018) illustrate technology's role as co-constituted mediators of human experience in Figure 2-1 below, stating that technologies "amplify and reduce human perception, whilst inviting and inhibiting human action" (pg. 466). ...
Master's Thesis at Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Faculty 1: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Geomatics, Master Program "Urban Agglomerations". Abstract Digital media today enables people to connect easily with each other, no matter where they may be in the world. It is also a means of connecting with the world, particulary in contemporary urban environments. However, given the relentless and rather stressful nature of modern city life, digital media has often been perceived as a distraction, or as something that ‘displaces’ people, thus preventing the formation of fulfilling or more enriching connections with places. Thus, this thesis is an investigation into the potential of existing and emergent digital media in enabling a sense of place in an urban environment. This is achieved via a comprehensive review of literature pertaining to human experience of space and place, characterizing the role of technology and digital media as a mediator of human-world/environment relations, identification of relevant examples of media that can aid this process, followed by the contextualization of the study and the formulation of digital strategies that will enable the creation of a sense of place in the selected context. It was determined that the creation of an integrated digital platform will allow users to gain a sense of place by combining the potential of social, locative, and interactive media, which further creates a foundation for place awareness through exploration and experience, place attachment through participation and inclusion, as well as place memory - which in essence is a sense of place. In conclusion, it was determined that digital media can indeed aid the creation of sense of place in an urban environment.
De plus en plus de travaux en marketing mobilisent actuellement des théories, conceptuellement novatrices, qui repensent les distinctions communément établies entre les objets et les sujets. S’inscrivant dans cette perspective, cet article propose d’introduire en marketing la théorie post-phénoménologique, récemment développée en philosophie. Un exposé synthétique en est fait, qui présente ses principaux cadres conceptuels et les traduit en guide d’investigation. Pour illustrer l’intérêt et la portée de la post-phénoménologie, une étude empirique est effectuée, portant sur les technologies de métrologie personnelle ou self-tracking. Les résultats rapportés permettent d’apprécier les apports de la post-phénoménologie. Celle-ci invite à une autre façon de penser et questionner la consommation des objets techniques, en les reconnaissant porteurs d’une intentionnalité. Elle dessine une alternative aux théorisations actuelles sur l’agentivité de l’objet. Elle propose un cadre analytique performant, qui structure et systématise l’examen des manières dont les objets techniques modulent les relations au monde des consommateurs : non seulement leur expérience du monde, mais encore leur expérience de cette expérience du monde.
This article investigates new relations with things that are expansive and inclusive of the pluralities and differences within our entanglements with technologies. We do this by extending our commitments to the methodological approaches of material speculation and co-speculation that led us to engage in multi-year conversations between ourselves as design researchers, philosophers, and a counterfactual artifact we designed, known as a Tilting Bowl. The philosophers lived with the Tilting Bowl during this period. We call these conversations, polylogues, of which the aim is to co-speculate on a range of new possible relations by which to consider living with technological things. The contributions of our article are two-fold. Firstly, through our polylogues, we offer descriptions of three relations with things. These include 1) non-anthropocentric care: care that is non-anthropocentric and existential; 2) non-presumptive relations: not-knowing in relating to and engaging with things; and 3) ideologized relations: ideologies that frame relations with technologies. Secondly, the article elaborates and critically reflects on co-speculation as a method for relational and situated knowing that can be of benefit to HCI researchers.
En este artículo partiremos de la pregunta por cómo se dan los procesos identitarios humanos, en relación a las imágenes fotográficas compartidas en el entorno virtual, específicamente, en las redes sociales. Ello lo realizaremos desde un enfoque postfenomenológico. Nuestras propuestas son: (i) que las imágenes fotográficas compartidas en las redes sociales son uno de los puentes que entrelazan la Dimensión Virtual del Mundo (DVM) con la Dimensión Terrenal del Mundo (DTM); (ii) que por lo mismo, la existencia humana no se restringe a una u otra, sino que ambas manifestaciones de lo que somos son parte de la pluralidad y multiplicidad de lo que implica existir y estar vivos; (iii) que las imágenes fotográficas compartidas en la virtualidad son parte de un proceso identitario, destinado a mostrarse a los otros; (iv) que la DVM tiene, como una de sus características fundamentales, la constante posibilidad de experimentar la existencia desde una percepción acelerada, estética y poetizada. También señalaremos, a la par de lo anterior, cómo este fenómeno modifica las formas a través de las cuales percibimos, conocemos y comprendemos el mundo de la vida. Como conclusión proponemos comprender la DVM y la DTM no como dos realidades que se excluyen pensando a la otra como falsa, sino como dos dimensiones de un mismo mundo; cada una con sus características propias, pero siempre parte de un mismo mundo. La tecnología, y lo que esta proporciona, es una extensión de la capacidad humana que amplía la comprensión y el análisis del mundo material.
During a research project in which we developed a machine learning (ML) driven visualization system for non-ML experts, we reflected on interpretability research in ML, computer-supported collaborative work and human-computer interaction. We found that while there are manifold technical approaches, these often focus on ML experts and are evaluated in decontextualized empirical studies. We hypothesized that participatory design research may support the understanding of stakeholders' situated sense-making in our project, yet, found guidance regarding ML interpretability inexhaustive. Building on philosophy of technology, we formulated explanation strategies as an empirical-analytical lens explicating how technical explanations mediate the contextual preferences concerning people's interpretations. In this paper, we contribute a report of our proof-of-concept use of explanation strategies to analyze a co-design workshop with non-ML experts, methodological implications for participatory design research, design implications for explanations for non-ML experts and suggest further investigation of technological mediation theories in the ML interpretability space.
We present a first-person, retrospective exploration of two radio sonification pieces that employ narrative scaffolding to teach audiences how to listen to data. To decelerate and articulate design processes that occurred at the rapid pace of radio production, the sound designer and producer wrote retrospective design accounts. We then revisited the radio pieces through principles drawn from guidance design, data storytelling, visualization literacy, and sound studies. Finally, we speculated how these principles might be applied through interactive, voice-based technologies. First-person methods enabled us to access the implicit knowledge embedded in radio production and translate it to technologies of interest to the human–computer-interaction community, such as voice user interfaces that rely on auditory display. Traditionally, sonification practitioners have focused more on generating sounds than on teaching people how to listen; our process, however, treated sound and narrative as a holistic, sonic-narrative experience. Our first-person retrospection illuminated the role of narrative in designing to support people as they learn to listen to data.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In this paper we describe Greenscreen Dress, a material speculation inquiry (Wakkary et al., 2015) that investigates the wearing experience of dynamic fabric in everyday life. In this study the researcher has worn a "greenscreen garment" every day for seven months. Coupled with a chroma-key smartphone application, she has photographed the garment and digitally composited upon it multiple digital colours, patterns and videos. The fashion expressions were uploaded to Instagram and so situated within a digital social ecosystem. We argue that combining the wearing of dynamic fabric with design activities, the inquiry of what it might mean to wear dynamic fabric moves speculation into day-today living by drawing from the interactions of the researcher's everyday life. As innovations in smart textiles and wearable technologies become more accessible, knowledge gained from this research critically inquires into the everydayness of this breed of technological system. The research draws insights from design, fashion, and material performances in the daily life of the researcher. The project contributes critical insights into fashion and technology for clothing designers and in to new methodological terrains for RtD.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Design-oriented research in HCI has increasingly migrated towards theoretical perspectives to understand the implications of newly crafted technology in everyday life. However, in this context, the relations between theory and understanding the things we make are not always clear, especially the degree to which the nature of research artifacts is revealed through or determined by theory. We examine a series of field deployment studies we conducted with our research artifact table-non-table over the course of four and a half years that we came to see as a postphenomenological inquiry. Importantly, our interpretations of this artifact, methodological concerns, and theoretical groundings evolved over time. We account for and critically reflect on these shifts in the relationship between theory and our design artifact. We detail how theory was enacted and embodied in our design research practice and offer insights into the complex relations between theory and things in design-oriented HCI research.
Conference Paper
This paper reports on a postphenomenological inquiry of six trained philosophers, who as study participants lived with and reflected on a research product we designed known as the Tilting Bowl: a ceramic bowl that unpredictably but gently tilts multiple times daily. The Tilting Bowl is a counterfactual artifact that is designed specifically for this study as part of a material speculation approach to design research. A postphenomenological inquiry looks to describe and analyze accounts of relationships between humans and technological artifacts, and how each mutually shapes the other through mediations that form the human subjectivity and objectivity of any given situation. This paper contributes an empirical account and analysis of the relations that emerged (background and alterity) and the relativistic views that co-constitute the philosophers, Tilting Bowl, and their specific worlds. The findings demonstrate the relevance of this philosophical framing to fundamentally and broadly understand how people engage digital artifacts.
We explore the future scenario of wearing garments with digital display capabilities, or dynamic fabric, in everyday life. Our study, called Greenscreen Dress, investigates the experience of wearing dynamic fabric and how this type of garment quality might alter our daily interactions with clothing and have implications for designers. In the study, we adopt an autoethnographic approach that materially speculates on dynamic fabric by wearing green every day for ten months and using a chroma key (“greenscreen”) mobile application to give the garments a digital display. We reflect on the behavioural and mental shifts that emerge from integrating dynamic fabric into one’s wardrobe with regards to expression through personal style, fashion design processes for and with digital content, social acceptance of dynamic displays on clothes in mass fashion and engagement with digital media for expressive purposes. Broadly, we argue that exploring wearable technologies through the lens of socio-cultural perspectives and clothing practice, as opposed to material or technological developments, can reveal insights with regards to the opportunities and challenges of blending clothing with smart technologies. More specifically, we explore the future notion of dynamic fabric clothing through the act of wearing dynamic fabric in everyday life and an engagement with digital expression.
Conference Paper
Applying a thing-centered, material speculation approach we designed the Morse Things to acknowledge and inquire into the gap between things and us. The Morse Things are sets of ceramic bowls and cups networked together to independently communicate through Morse code in an Internet of Things (IoT). We deployed the Morse Things in the households of six interaction design practitioners and researchers for six weeks. Following the deployment, we conducted a workshop to discuss the role of the Morse Things and ultimately the gap between things and people. We reflect on the nature of living with IoT things and discuss insights into the gap between things and humans that led to the idea of a new type of thing in the home that is neither human-centered technology nor non-digital artifacts.
Conference Paper
In this paper we present Videos of Things: videos that portray the mediated, lived world of computational artifacts informed by postphenomenology. In a post-phenomenological understanding, things and us are interdependent in that they mutually shape each other. And as a whole, technology or designed things mediate the relations between our world and us. This can be a challenge for designers. Through the making of design videos, we explored narrative strategies for creating stories featuring technological mediation. These include humanness, patterns in time, and non-human ensembles. We reflect on how the videos at different stages of the design process have helped to a) speculate on technological mediated relationships, b) synthesize and reflect on qualitative data on technological mediation and c) anticipate technological mediation. The paper contributes different narrative strategies for design videos and the role these videos can play within a design process aimed at elaborating the mediated qualities of technologies.
Conference Paper
In this paper we describe the Datacatcher, a location-aware, tangible and embodied mobile device that displays a continuous stream of statements about its location that are drawn from a large number of data sources and which speak to sociopolitical issues. We describe how the design and our underlying research interests emerged and changed over the course of three distinct phases of development: the device's conceptual design, its refinement to a final design, and the final detailing leading a batch production of 130 of the devices. We discuss the Datacatcher as resonant with many current issues in HCI, including augmented reality, environmental issues, political systems and using data as a design material.