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Exploring temporality for digital photo wayfaring

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Since the 19th century, photographs have supported people's practices of self-reflection, social interaction, and contemplation of the future. Today, digital photographic technologies have enabled people to create a massive proliferation of photos at scales larger than ever before. This technological advancement allows people to accumulate more precise and extensive personal memories in life. Yet, it also poses new challenges. For example, digital photos become formless, lacking the material presence as a reminder of the existence and content of people's archives. To address these challenges, new approaches are needed for people to engage with their digital photos. My dissertation contributes to three research goals. First, I inquire into how making people's digital photo archives more present and interactive through a temporal lens might open new possibilities for reflective memory-oriented photo viewing; in this, I attend to how photos work as cues that trigger autobiographical memory. Second, I investigate how temporal metadata could operate as a resource for generating a renewed sense of awareness and control over large and still growing digital photo archives. Third, I pursue personal life history as an accumulating and prominent aspect of time to design technologies for reflection. My overarching research question is: How can memory-oriented experiences with personal digital photos be supported and sustained as they grow, expand, and age over time? To answer this question, I adopted research through design as the primary methodology and created two design cases. First, Chronoscope is a tangible photo viewer that displays photos in chronological and non-chronological expressions of time. Second, PhotoClock is a mobile application that uses the current clock-time of the present moment to re-present photos taken around that same time of the day in one's past. These design cases were investigated by combining a practice-based designer-researcher approach with research product field deployment studies. Building on these works' findings, the end of this cumulative dissertation discusses how an artifact analysis could mobilize and extend a theory of slow technology. Ultimately, this dissertation showcases the importance of investigating temporal modalities to support people to interact with their digital photo archives as contributions to future HCI research and practices.
219 pages.
Copyright statement
Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Odom, William
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