Inspirational Bits

Reflection on Inspirational Bits - Creating Understanding of Technology for Design

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.

Time: 25th Feb 2014

In the paper Kristina introduced the concept of intermediate-level knowledge: strong concepts. To me it was a little abstract to understand at first - it is more abstract that a particular instance or design since it can be deployed across application domains and in different situation. For ex- ample, social navigation is now almost used everywhere in Amazon, IMDB, Youtube, Douban, etc. On the other hand, it seems to be more concrete and “hands on” than theories for interac- tion designers, because certain kinds of strong concepts can be put into their “Library” of context or solution-oriented element which enrich designers’ repertoire. And give designers inspirations o!r directions for the possible solution.

What makes me most fascinate about strong concepts is that in spite of the fact that they are contestable, defensible, substantive and regarded as academical knowledge, they are neither stable nor last long as theories. They are more practical, they may change, or be used in differ- ent situation. It’s exactly like how designers work in the real world. The real situations are always different and we cannot find a step-by-step guidance or reference to go after. This reveals the f!act that the design process is dynamic every time, which is challenging and exciting.

The examples of strong concepts in this paper is a pleasant read and make me think a lot.

Social navigation is derived from how people behave in the real world. Designers found that when buying things or making choices, people tend to ask their neighbours instead of seeing the long manual for information and instructions. So they transform this pattern into websites and applications. I think this is a good way to derive strong concept, and also a good example of how people can change the rules in the world of internet. However, as a designer, I always get con- fused between following the social rules and leaving independent space for users. The opinions of others may change a person’s choice or even thoughts unconsciously, for example, a lot of “like” from friends of a photo on Facebook in someway will “force” a person to “like” it even if he or she actually doesn’t like it. To my opinion, the design in this way is not a good design since it doesn’t enable user to choose or control. But it is a more complicated situation because sometimes it does gave people help and support.

In the paper the author also mentioned about seamless and seamful design. Seamless means the design should be made invisible for users, and should not disturb user from doing their task, while seamful design strives to let user be informed of the details(e.g. technical details)of the design. For seamlessness and seamfulness, you can not say which is right and which is wrong, they are suitable for different situations. For example I want to know the wireless network signal on my computer so that I may related the strength of the signal to the position in the library, therefore, I gain knowledge of which places in a library as strong signal, which is good for me when I need a good internet connection. However, my mother would never want her phone to show the border of each layer, nor the position of the pointer, which may useful for mobile application developers, seamless design in mobile phone is suitable for her here.

I also found the other example: Bare skin connection between strangers quite interesting. Be- sides the concept, the process of doing research through explorative design is innovate and ap- pealing to me. By carrying the equipment, exploring and interact with strangers in the metro, on the street, and at parties, the researcher had to come out of his own comfort zone, and actually had fun! Technology should make people closer, not the other way around.

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