This is a urgent topic that requires a fundamental rethinking of what we do, what we teach, and – in many ways – who we are. I myself am a product of the “computing is good / tech is good / we need more smart stuff” ideology, and I find it quite difficult to resist the sirens of shiny new “stuff”. Much deeper reflection is urgently needed, and much more design work.
Have a look at Saba Golchehr’s Ph.D. thesis at the Royal College of Art. “Data for design: Adopting data-driven approaches for long term citizen participation and social sustainability in design for the public realm” http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4060
“The world is flooded with more information than ever before. Ubiquitous digital technologies have enabled direct access to large amounts of empirical data to inform a wide range of topics and investigations. This thesis set out to explore how these novel data technologies offer new opportunities to designers to greatly increase their knowledge of the built environment and how people inhabit it, to inform design in the public realm.”
The Civic Tech Field Guide is a crowdsourced, global collection of civic tech tools and projects. It’s an official project of Civic Hall, a one-of-a-kind non-profit collaboration center for the world’s civic innovators.
Thousands of civic tech practitioners from over 100 countries around the world have contributed to this living resource. It catalogs not only the tools, but also the social side of the field: the conferences, funders, awards, design principles and playbooks.
It includes govtech, civic tech, media tech, and high tech in our definition of “tech for the public good”. It’s a free, and Creative-Commons-licensed collection.
Risa Puno designed “The Privilege of Escape,” an art installation and escape room that uses tangible and playful interactions to materialize the abstract concept of Privilege. Subverting the format of this popular group pastime, Puno has constructed an experience that encourages participants to think about how privilege functions in society – and to what end. The term “privilege” is loaded and confusing for many, often triggering strong emotions that undermine constructive conversations. Inspired by the game of life, where societal rules are often arbitrary, fixed, and unfair, The Privilege of Escape showcases Puno’s ability to introduce complex social issues through play, innovative game design, and puzzle logic.
This open-access book explores the affordances of new media technologies for empowering citizens in the process of city making, relating examples of bottom-up or participatory practices to reflections about the changing roles of professional practitioners in the processes, as well as issues of governance and institutional policymaking.
This thesis project explores the capacity of digital critical games when it comes to conveying socially relevant messages and making the player reflect on the real life outside of the game, with a specific interest in self-reflection.
“Designing for inclusivity not only opens up our products and services to more people, it also reflects how people really are. All humans grow and adapt to the world around them and we want our designs to reflect that.” Download the Inclusive Design Toolkit at https://www.microsoft.com/design/inclusive/
The Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths published Energy Babble, a booklet documenting the creation of “automated talk radios obsessed with energy”. Free PDF, with essays by Andy Boucher, Bill Gaver et al.
This is one of the articles I’m probably the most proud of, in terms of methodology and analysis. There are three things that are really close to my interests – interaction criticism, playful interaction, pragmatist aesthetics – and all are in play in this paper. I’m a bit disappointed that it stayed for a whole year behind a paywall, and now that the embargo period is over I’m republishing it for free on my own site. Free PDF available below.
The Techno-Galactic Guide to Software Observation proposes ways to achieve critical distance from the software systems that surround us, with speculative tools for the (mis)use of software empowering users to resist embedded paradigms and assumptions
“There have been misunderstandings regarding “narrative” in relation to games, in part due to the lack of a shared understanding of “narrative” and related terms. Instead, many contrasting perspectives exist, and this state of affairs is an impediment for current and future research. To address this challenge, this article moves beyond contrasting definitions, and based on a meta-analysis of foundational publications in game studies and related fields, introduces a two-dimensional mapping along the dimensions of media specificity and user agency.”
This is a really interesting PhD thesis by David Cuartielles on Platform Design, which “is a study of different viewpoints on the creation of digital systems, and how they converge in platforms designed, built, and managed by communities.”
Folks into civically-engaged games: Progetto Ustica is a documentary / serious game that addresses the massacre of Itavia Flight 870. It’s a playable piece on civic memory, and it’s very much worth trying.
Anab Jain brings the future to life, creating experiences where people can touch, see and feel the potential of the world we’re creating. Do we want a world where intelligent machines patrol our streets, for instance, or where our genetic heritage determines our health care? Jain’s projects show why it’s important to fight for the world we want. Catch a glimpse of possible futures in this eye-opening talk.
“What kind of stories and plots do researchers of Human Computer Interaction draw on when they make fictions?” The way we tell narratives influences the way we think, also in science. So interesting to see some good narratological study applied to the discourse of HCI. Mark Blythe’s CHI 2017 paper is available in open access at https://dl.acm.org/authorize?N36804
We were promised flying cars but we got Twitter instead. That’s the common complaint against science fiction writers and the visions of the future they presented us in the 20th century. But sci-fi authors did imagine something like the Internet and social media before they existed. And we might be able to learn something from the writers who tried to imagine our daily lives. Cory Doctorow, Ada Palmer, Jo Walton and Arizona State University professor Ed Finn look at the cyberpunks and their predecessors. And artist Paul St. George talks about why he’s fascinated by a Skype-like machine from the Victorian era.
Designers continually describe design as a way of organizing complexity or finding clarity in chaos. Synthesis reveals a cohesion and sense of continuity; synthesis indicates a push towards organization, reduction, and clarity. Yet despite the acknowledged importance of this phase of the design process, there continues to appear something magical about synthesis when encountered in professional practice.
Nazlican Goksu is a Design Researcher at IDEO San Francisco, and she’s particularly interested in systemic challenges, especially those that involve urban design. In this blog post, she wonders “How does play affect how we behave in cities? What are the social and physical effects of play in urban design? If we played more in cities, would we be happier? Fall in love more often?”
In recent years, game developers have been fusing the research and process of journalism with the kind of interactive storytelling that games do best in order to create unique and moving experiences. "We Are Chicago" (Culture Shock Games) and "1979 Revolution: Black Friday" (iNK Stories) are two really interesting examples
Satirical and persuasive games are becoming some sort of staple in recent elections, and the latest one in the UK is no exception. CorbynRun, playable for free at https://corbynrun.com/ as well as on iOS and Android, is a nicely crafted endless run. But the question is: does it effectively convey a political message through its UX and level design?
A really interesting CHI paper by Ann Light, Irina Shklovski and Alison Powell. “What should designers do with their design skills and orientation to the future as right-wing populism sweeps through politics; climate predictions worsen; mass migration (within/across countries) escalates refugee numbers; new classes of automation threaten workers’ jobs and austerity policies destabilize society?”
A paper by Katherine Isbister, Kaho Abe and Michael Karlesky, at CHI 2017. “We present a strong concept for design: Interdependent Wearables (for play): wearables designed to require shared attention and mutual awareness, with interdependent functionality that encourages and rewards collocated interaction. The concept arose through design, development, and public exhibition of Hotaru, a collocated social game that uses wearables as game controllers. Hotaru has been shown in festivals and also formally playtested with 62 individuals. To more fully articulate the Interdependent Wearables strong concept, we compared this system’s design with wearable and embodied systems for play and other purposes, and drew upon relevant HCI theory. The work is of benefit to those in the HCI/UX community focused on the design and development of social wearable technologies, especially those interested in supporting collocated interaction.”
Artifact is a journal focused on practice-based design research, and aims to explore conditions, issues and tasks pertaining to design development in a broad sense. In this volume of Artifact, different authors explore “the design concept”, and the designers’ social activities.
Patrick Prax recently defended his Ph.D. thesis at Uppsala University, about co-creation, game design and alternative media. When are players able to participate to the creation of a game world and its rules? How can they appropriate and subvert them? Which meaning is generated?