XXIV.6 November + December 2017
Page: 5
Digital Citation

WELCOME: Avoiding agenda bias with design thoughtfulness

Simone Barbosa, Gilbert Cockton

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Design thinking alone is not enough. As new concerns expand interaction design agendas and old ones remain relevant, we need to be far more thoughtful. In the cover story, m.c. schraefel discusses how the Internet of Things extends existing privacy and security concerns, arguing for increased apparency and transparency. Similarly, Mark Perry raises transparency and trust issues for digital payments and electronic money. In all cases, rather than rushing into problem solving, we must notice our current world in detail as a first step toward imagining better worlds, as Daniela Rosner and Alex Taylor do in their conversation about two books that encourage "creative listening." For Samantha Shorey and colleagues, frictions and breakdowns in half-built projects help to "radically reimagine" alternative futures. Chris LeDantec and Carl DiSalvo discuss similar orientations in detailing what civic designers need to know and do when promoting societal change. Suggestions include research agendas that encompass support for both engagement and non-participation.

Emerging technologies and creative and critical practices are also a source of opportunities, not just concerns. For example, Olivia Tabel and colleagues are developing activities for the Coding Pirates group in Denmark to engage more children in learning how to code. In their work they draw on the physical world to explore the social and tangible aspects of coding. Damien Ablart and his research group explore opportunities for enhancing sensory experiences by integrating multimodal technologies in a museum exhibit. And as the physical and digital merge, new apps, such as Daniel Harrison et al.'s Thinga.Me, let people digitally collect physical objects. Enter and Exit further illustrate emerging physical and visual interaction practices.

Tobie Kerridge reminds us of concerns arising in design research that transcend studio practice. He argues that when synthesizing material generated during fieldwork in documentation artifacts such as workbooks, these must "speak for others" while also supporting reflection from multiple perspectives. And as design and research agendas continue expanding, it becomes harder to balance conflicting forces and differing agendas. Uday Gajendar cuts through the complexity here with four thoughtful vectors of influence: vision, strategy, process, and culture. Danielle Cooley brings us lessons learned from streamlining a user-centered design process—just having an agenda, she says, falls short in terms of scope and appropriateness. Thoughtful attention is key in ensuring sufficient scope, relevance, and quality. Despite the old adage, it is clear that some usability is not always better than no usability.

In design, nothing can be taken for granted, including established concerns such as the ethics of working with vulnerable populations, where Alissa Antle lays out a three-part foundation to support thoughtful reflection, drawing on her experience of working with children in poverty in Nepal. HCI's initial focus on cognition also remains valuable, with Nils Jäger advocating an enactive approach to cognition that gives HCI thinking a more prominent role in designing meaningful interactions with adaptive architecture. Acceptability is another longstanding concern in HCI. Norene Kelly developed her WEAR Scale to assess how socially acceptable a wearable is, structured around aspirational desires and social fears. It's no surprise that human interaction remains a core source of value, with Uri Kartoun reminding us that putting humans in the loop can increase the accuracy of machine-learning approaches, at least in natural language processing.

We need to reject silos in interaction design. Katherine Isbister's magic wand in Abracadabra would transfer knowledge from the game-design community to strengthen our social connections and consequently prevent depression and other isolation-related conditions. At the same time, we must be ever more thoughtful about the needs and values of all HCI communities, which can differ significantly country to country. Day in the Lab reports practices from Namibia, while Community Square celebrates the 10th anniversary of the CHI-Mexico conference series.

There is thus much food for design thoughtfulness, including food itself: For Juliet Norton and colleagues, HCI research and practice can either perpetuate current global instability and inequality in food systems or push for new policies to increase food sustainability. In our work, when have we ever settled for an ignoble status quo?

Simone Barbosa and Gilbert Cockton [email protected]

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The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2017 ACM, Inc.

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