Inspirational Bits

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Reflection on Inspirational Bits - Creating Understanding of Technology for Design

Related paper: Sundström, P., Taylor, A., Grufberg, K., Wirström, N., Solsona Belenguer, J., & Lundén, M. (2011, May). Inspirational bits: towards a shared understanding of the digital material. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1561-1570). ACM.

Time: 17th Feb 2014

In the paper the author introduced inspirational bits as a playful way for members from a multi- disciplined design team to get a better understanding of the technology.

To my understanding, the inspirational bits are like working prototypes or small applications implemented with a single or limited functions. By playing with it, participants(mostly designers) can gain a more vivid idea of one feature of the technology which they want to explore. I think playing games with inspirational bits is better than technicians barely educating the designers with words and sentence because usually they have different ways of thinking and different perspectives on the same thing.

It seems that under the situation where technology is the main limitation, using inspirational bits can turn the limitation of one technology into one feature of it, which can trigger innovative alter- natives by making use of the limitation. As an interaction designer, we are always trained to think from user’s perspective, meantime, we need to know in-depth of technology to avoid cargo cult design. My concern here is that by playing with inspirational bits, will the designers focus too much on the feature revealed by inspirational bits, thus designing based on technology rather than fulfilling user’s needs?

Another doubts I have is that, who will be the person to design inspirational bits? In the book “Thoughtful Interaction Design” written by Jonas Löwgren and Erik Stolterman, they described different roles and responsibilities in the design process: technical experts, political experts and socio-technical experts. Who will be the one to design inspirational bits? Technical experts be- cause they have better knowledge of the technology, or the political experts because they have better knowledge of users, or they can design together as they can also educate each other in the process of designing inspirational bits and games?

At last, I think that maybe for some common techniques, such as the example given in the paper: bluetooth, accelerometer, and RFID, there can be a common library for these inspirational bits so that design teams can make use of it when they encounter these techniques.

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