Inspirational Bits

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Reflection on Bodily Sharing of Experience

Related paper: Höök, K., & Löwgren, J. (2012). Strong concepts: Intermediate-level knowledge in interaction design research. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 19(3), 23.
Laaksolahti, J., Tholander, J., Lundén, M., Solsona Belenguer, J., Karlsson, A., & Jaensson, T. (2011, January). The lega: a device for leaving and finding tactile traces. In Proceedings of the fifth international conference on Tangible, embedded, and embodied interaction (pp. 193-196). ACM.

Time: 25th Feb 2014

This two papers discussed about a device for leaving and sharing tactile senses - lega, in different perspectives with an intent to explore the possibilities of bodily shared interactions.

I felt so fascinated with the concept of intimate, emotional, ambiguous and poetic com- munication which allows meanings to be expressed without clear definition. I think this is another approach of using technology to facilitate people in a more human-centred way. What most existing electronic devices in the market did are, delivering concrete informa- tion like data, sentences, photos, with an aim to accomplish a specific task or to transmit a clearly defined message. Instead, the early examples mentioned in the first paper, such as Chris Dodge’s ‘bed’, ‘Feather, Scent and Shake’ by Rob Strong, tried to transmit emotions and feelings, which are more abstract in an aesthetic way. I like them because firstly, these are examples that show possibilities to use technology to enrich people’s feelings, encourage themselves to express and communicate their emotions in a more ambiguous way - a way that is more close to the situation in reality. In reality, people’s ways of communicating and showing one’s emotions are indeed complicated and am- biguous. Though there are other studies which focus on how emotions are measured, in an anthropological approach, which is more scientific for me, the approach in “bed”, “Feather, Scent and Shake” and “lega” leave more space for users to develop their own language and understanding based on their relationship and knowledge of others. This is the second reason I like them.

Back to the study of lega, I found these findings from this 2-month study very interesting: people wanted to hear the trace they left, they felt like the experience in the art exhibi- tion with legs more like a self conversation, and they felt that legs is not a tool to com- municate but rather a living being and develop a relationship with it. I think this reveals part of human nature, always on a way to find oneself, and never forget about that.

Finally I start thinking this question again: when we design and develop a new devices, shall we constrain, or predefine what role can can it play in a user’s life and lead how users will use it? As lega’s case, it seems at the originally the author assumed that ‘sharing experience, more sociality’ was ‘good’ and intent the users to use it in a social way. But then it turned out that by using lega, certain amounts of users focused on indi- vidual experience, or regard lega as a ‘friend’. Is there a ‘right’ way to use it?

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