Slow, Unaware Things Beyond Interaction

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Wakkary, Ron, and William Odom. 2018. “Slow, Unaware Things Beyond Interaction.” In Funology 2: From Usability to Enjoyment, edited by Mark Blythe and Andrew Monk, 177–91. Human–Computer Interaction Series. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

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In this chapter we provide an overview of concepts and methods that have become part of our approach to gain a broader and deeper understanding of the relations between humans and technology. Over the years, our efforts have been to move past the field of interaction design’s dominant focus on human interaction with technology to develop a design-oriented understanding of human relations with technology. In our view, this begins by looking at technology beyond its functional, utilitarian, or instrumental value toward a broader set of perceptions and meanings. This theme is emblematic of a broader shift in interaction design and HCI. The first edition of this book contributed significantly to a trajectory in which designers and researchers see technology as a matter of experiences that are fun (Blythe and Hassenzahl in The semantics of fun: differentiating enjoyable experiences, 91–100, 2003), rich (Overbeeke et al. in Let’s make things engaging, 7–17, 2003), embodied (Dourish in Where the action is: the foundations of embodied interaction. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, 2004), somaesthetic (Höök et al. in Proceedings of the 2016 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2016), spatio-temporal (McCarthy and Wright in Technology as experience. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, 2004), hedonic (Hassenzahl in The thing and i: understanding the relationship between user and product. 31–42, 2003), reflective (Sengers and Gaver in Proceedings of the 6th conference on designing interactive systems. ACM, New York, NY, USA, pp 99–108, 2006), and ludic (Gaver et al. in CHI’04 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, New York, NY, USA, pp 885–900, 2004). However, understanding technology through more than solely a functional lens is only one part of more deeply viewing and inquiring into human-technology relations. We believe it is necessary to also understand people’s relations to technology beyond interaction and engineered experiences of technology. In the context of funology, we aim to critically and generatively contribute to the investigations of the experiences of technology to go beyond both instrumentalism and interaction. In many respects, interaction, like functionality, is too narrow of a lens for both understanding and influencing people’s experiences and relations to technology through design. Interaction is only one form of technology relations that happens explicitly, in present time, and consciously (Verbeek in What things do: philosophical reflections on technology, agency, and design. Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, University Park, Pa, 2015). What about relations to technology that manifest over time, incrementally, knowingly and unknowingly (or somewhere in between) that become part of our everyday lives?

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