How do we, in design research, characterise and articulate relations between humans and technology? This work provides a reflection on Interaction Design (Research) Labels, which is based on the observation that a variety of labels are looking similarly:

[attribute] [non-human actor]

However, what is it that we mean by slow technology [3]? What is an unaware object [5]? What is a technology, if it is charismatic [1]? And what are disobedient objects [2]? Arguing that the labels may be hiding actual understandings and meanings, we analysed purposes, agencies, inscriptions, and intentions of the concepts, which are concealed within the label. In theoretical and methodological terms, this work is inspired by Actor-Network Theory [4], and carries forward our previous work on (material) relations between different actors in HCI and Interaction Design.

Finally, we explore alternatives in order to trigger discussions and reflections for future labels of interaction designs:

  • What if an [attribute] does not only articulate a property, but an activity in order to emphasize the dynamic gestalt of an interactive artefact? (e.g., [randomly operating] objects instead of unaware objects)
  • What if an [attribute] expresses intended use / encounters (in form of inscriptions)? (e.g., [reflection] technology instead of slow technology)
  • What if an [attribute] expresses actual use / encounters? (e.g., [post-functional] objects instead of unaware objects)
  • What if a [non-human actor] not only refers to plural objects, but to interactions, designs, or (computer-supported) practices? (e.g., counterfunctional [interactions] instead of counter functional things)
  • What if creators refrain from using attributes, but indicate in the label what it is, that is presented (e.g., a concept for, a philosophy of), and/or what it aims for? (e.g., a concept for confronting humans; a concept for facilitating humans’ reflection, etc.)

This exploration does not call for established labels to be changed, but aims to be an invitation to explore variations of labels to reflect on a concept’s meaning, articulation, and communication.

[1] Ames, M. G. Charismatic technology. Aarhus Series on Human Centered Computing 1, 1 (2015), 12.
[2] Flood, C., Grindon, G., et al. Disobedient objects. Victoria & Albert Museum. Londres: V&A Publishing (2014).
[3] Hallnäs, L., and Redström, J. Slow technology–designing for reflection. Personal and ubiquitous computing 5, 3 (2001), 201–212.
[4] Latour, B. Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford University Press, 2007.
[5] Odom, W., and Wakkary, R. Intersecting with unaware objects. In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Creativity and Cognition (New York, NY, USA, 2015), C&C ’15, ACM, pp. 33–42.

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Related Publications

Fuchsberger-Staufer, V., Murer, M., Krischkowsky, A., & Tscheligi, M. (2016). Interaction Design Labels: Concepts, Inscriptions, and Concealed Intentions. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (pp. 108-120)