Meaning Reconstruction as an Approach to Analyze Critical Dimensions of HCI Research

colin gray
colin grayAssistant Professor at Purdue University
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AS AN
APPROACH TO ANALYZE CRITICAL
DIMENSIONS OF HCI RESEARCH
COLIN M. GRAY1, AUSTIN L. TOOMBS2, & CHRISTIAN MCKAY2
1
Purdue University; 2
Indiana University
CRITICAL HCI RESEARCH
LACKS TRANSPARENCY
PROVOCATION
CRITICAL HCI RESEARCH
LACKS TRANSPARENCY
PROVOCATION
METATHEORETICALLY: theoretical commitments
METHODOLOGICALLY: complete description of method
TRANSLATIONAL: how data are transformed into insights
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
AGENDA
1. Increase in critical and qualitative research in HCI
2. Carspecken’s critical qualitative approach
3. Demonstration of meaning reconstruction techniques
using ethnographic data
4. Reflection on the contribution of such an approach to
help strengthen rigorous critical inquiry in HCI
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
CRITICAL RESEARCH IS 

ON THE RISE IN HCI,REPORTING
OF RESEARCH IS FRAMED BY
HCI’S SCIENTISTIC HISTORY,
AND WE LACK MEANS TO LINK
DATA TO CRITICAL INSIGHTS
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
CRITICAL RESEARCH IS 

ON THE RISE IN HCI,REPORTING
OF RESEARCH IS FRAMED BY
HCI’S SCIENTISTIC HISTORY,
AND WE LACK MEANS TO LINK
DATA TO CRITICAL INSIGHTS
Feminism 

(Bardzell & Bardzell, 2011)
Normative commitments 

of social systems 

(DiSalvo, 2012; Sawyer & Jarrahi, 2014; Toombs, Bardzell, & Bardzell, 2015)
Ethical responsibilities of 

designing technologies 

(Dourish et al., 2004; Sengers et al., 2005; Shilton, 2012)
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
CRITICAL RESEARCH IS 

ON THE RISE IN HCI,REPORTING
OF RESEARCH IS FRAMED BY
HCI’S SCIENTISTIC HISTORY,
AND WE LACK MEANS TO LINK
DATA TO CRITICAL INSIGHTS
Remnants of scientism in HCI’s history have made
reporting and evaluation of critical research challenging
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
CRITICAL RESEARCH IS 

ON THE RISE IN HCI,REPORTING
OF RESEARCH IS FRAMED BY
HCI’S SCIENTISTIC HISTORY,
AND WE LACK MEANS TO LINK
DATA TO CRITICAL INSIGHTS
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
CRITICAL RESEARCH IS 

ON THE RISE IN HCI,REPORTING
OF RESEARCH IS FRAMED BY
HCI’S SCIENTISTIC HISTORY,
AND WE LACK MEANS TO LINK
DATA TO CRITICAL INSIGHTS
Richer methods are needed to comprehensively document
and explain the ways in which communicative acts and social
norms are linked, in both temporal and 

experiential ways
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
CHARACTERISTICS OF QUALITATIVE & CRITICAL RESEARCH
1. THICK DESCRIPTION
2. TRANSPARENCY
3. SELF-DISCLOSURE
4. REFLEXIVITY
Sufficient explanation
of method and
presentation of data
to allow an external
entity access into the
mindset of the
researcher
(Dennis, Carspecken, &
Carspecken, 2013; 

Glaser & Strauss, 1967;

Lincoln & Guba, 1985)
}
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY (& THEORETICAL COMMITMENTS)
CRITICAL
ETHNOGRAPHY
(CARSPECKEN, 1996)
THEORY OF 

COMMUNICATIVE ACTION
J. HABERMAS
SPEECH ACT THEORY
J. L. AUSTIN
STRUCTURATION
A. GIDDENS
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY (& THEORETICAL COMMITMENTS)
CRITICAL
ETHNOGRAPHY
(CARSPECKEN, 1996)
INTERSUBJECTIVITY
Mutual understanding
defined by position-taking
The intersubjective space
forms whenever we act
communicatively, and we
take on multiple subject
positions when
communicating.
TWO RECONSTRUCTIVE
ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES
MEANING FIELDS
& VALIDITY HORIZONS
EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
“IF THERE’S SOMETHING WE CAN FIX THAT DROVE THEM
AWAY, THEN WE SHOULD WORRY ABOUT IT. BUT OTHERWISE
THERE ARE LOTS OF REASONS PEOPLE MIGHT STOP COMING.
AS LONG AS WE MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE ALL EXCELLENT TO
EACH OTHER THEN THAT’S THE BEST THAT WE CAN DO.”
JENNIFER ON WHAT THE COMMUNITY’S
RESPONSIBILITY MIGHT BE REGARDING INCLUSIVITY
EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
adapted from Gray (2014)
COMMUNICATIVE
ACT
MEANING FIELD
VALIDITY HORIZON
OBJECTIVE
FOREGROUND
INTERMEDIATE
BACKGROUND
SUBJECTIVE
—— IDENTITY ——
NORMATIVE
AND
OR/AND
INTERACTIVE
SETTING
BOUNDED SET OF
POSSIBLE MEANINGS FOR
A COMMUNICATIVE ACT
CONTEXTUALIZED AND
VALIDATED THROUGH
EXTENSIVE ENGAGEMENT
EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
MEANING FIELD
“If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have
done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior
is perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is
acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone
exactly the way we already treat each other”



OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone”
AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does
not fit in”



OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members”
BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am
female” AND “I feel comfortable here”
THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that
discourages female participation” EVEN THOUGH
“there are no other females here”



OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the
same as men” AND “the policy here is that
everyone be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is
a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women
should not be given special treatment or attention”
adapted from Gray (2014)
COMMUNICATIVE
ACT
MEANING FIELD
VALIDITY HORIZON
OBJECTIVE
FOREGROUND
INTERMEDIATE
BACKGROUND
SUBJECTIVE
—— IDENTITY ——
NORMATIVE
AND
OR/AND
INTERACTIVE
SETTING
WHAT VALIDITY CLAIMS MUST BE
ASSUMED TO MAKE THE
COMMUNICATIVE ACT 

INTERNALLY RATIONAL?
EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
HABERMAS’ THREE FORMAL WORLDS
ACT
OBJECTIVE
multiple access
“the world”
SUBJECTIVE
limited access
“my world”
NORMATIVE
should/ought to be
“our world”
EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
HABERMAS’ THREE FORMAL WORLDS
OBJECTIVE
multiple access
“the world”
SUBJECTIVE
limited access
“my world”
NORMATIVE
should/ought to be
“our world”
IDENTITY
the kind of person I am
“I”
ACT
EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
“If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is
perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone
exactly the way we already treat each other”



OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not
fit in”



OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am
female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages
female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”



OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone
be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be
given special treatment or attention”
CASE ONE Validity Horizon
OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY
FOREGROUND
We lost a few members.
It was not our fault /“shit
happens.”
I feel comfortable here. We should not be worried about
our behavior.
We should not try to change
anything about our community.
I am/we are good and
reasonable people.
MIDGROUND
One of the members we lost
was one of very few female
members.
I’m worried we did something
to push them away.
“Be excellent to each other”is
a sufficient guiding philosophy
for our community.
Everyone should feel
comfortable here.
Everyone should be treated
exactly the same.
I can speak for other women’s
experiences.
I am an authority figure in
this space.
BACKGROUND
Some people just don’t fit in I don’t want it to have been
our fault
We should ignore people’s
backgrounds and personal
histories.
We should not try to cater to
everyone.
I am comforting the group.
“If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is
perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone
exactly the way we already treat each other”



OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not
fit in”



OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am
female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages
female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”



OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone
be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be
given special treatment or attention”
CASE ONE Validity Horizon
OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY
FOREGROUND
We lost a few members.
It was not our fault /“shit
happens.”
I feel comfortable here. We should not be worried about
our behavior.
We should not try to change
anything about our community.
I am/we are good and
reasonable people.
MIDGROUND
One of the members we lost
was one of very few female
members.
I’m worried we did something
to push them away.
“Be excellent to each other”is
a sufficient guiding philosophy
for our community.
Everyone should feel
comfortable here.
Everyone should be treated
exactly the same.
I can speak for other women’s
experiences.
I am an authority figure in
this space.
BACKGROUND
Some people just don’t fit in I don’t want it to have been
our fault
We should ignore people’s
backgrounds and personal
histories.
We should not try to cater to
everyone.
I am comforting the group.
“If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is
perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone
exactly the way we already treat each other”



OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not
fit in”



OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am
female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages
female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”



OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone
be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be
given special treatment or attention”
CASE ONE Validity Horizon
OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY
FOREGROUND
We lost a few members.
It was not our fault /“shit
happens.”
I feel comfortable here. We should not be worried about
our behavior.
We should not try to change
anything about our community.
I am/we are good and
reasonable people.
MIDGROUND
One of the members we lost
was one of very few female
members.
I’m worried we did something
to push them away.
“Be excellent to each other”is
a sufficient guiding philosophy
for our community.
Everyone should feel
comfortable here.
Everyone should be treated
exactly the same.
I can speak for other women’s
experiences.
I am an authority figure in
this space.
BACKGROUND
Some people just don’t fit in I don’t want it to have been
our fault
We should ignore people’s
backgrounds and personal
histories.
We should not try to cater to
everyone.
I am comforting the group.
“If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is
perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone
exactly the way we already treat each other”



OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not
fit in”



OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am
female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages
female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”



OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone
be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be
given special treatment or attention”
CASE ONE Validity Horizon
OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY
FOREGROUND
We lost a few members.
It was not our fault /“shit
happens.”
I feel comfortable here. We should not be worried about
our behavior.
We should not try to change
anything about our community.
I am/we are good and
reasonable people.
MIDGROUND
One of the members we lost
was one of very few female
members.
I’m worried we did something
to push them away.
“Be excellent to each other”is
a sufficient guiding philosophy
for our community.
Everyone should feel
comfortable here.
Everyone should be treated
exactly the same.
I can speak for other women’s
experiences.
I am an authority figure in
this space.
BACKGROUND
Some people just don’t fit in I don’t want it to have been
our fault
We should ignore people’s
backgrounds and personal
histories.
We should not try to cater to
everyone.
I am comforting the group.
“If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is
perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone
exactly the way we already treat each other”



OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not
fit in”



OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am
female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages
female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”



OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone
be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be
given special treatment or attention”
OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY
FOREGROUND
We lost a few members.
It was not our fault /“shit
happens.”
I feel comfortable here. We should not be worried about
our behavior.
We should not try to change
anything about our community.
I am/we are good and
reasonable people.
MIDGROUND
One of the members we lost
was one of very few female
members.
I’m worried we did something
to push them away.
“Be excellent to each other”is
a sufficient guiding philosophy
for our community.
Everyone should feel
comfortable here.
Everyone should be treated
exactly the same.
I can speak for other women’s
experiences.
I am an authority figure in
this space.
BACKGROUND
Some people just don’t fit in I don’t want it to have been
our fault
We should ignore people’s
backgrounds and personal
histories.
We should not try to cater to
everyone.
I am comforting the group.
CASE ONE Validity Horizon
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
STRUCTURES
COMMUNICATIVE ACTS
ROLES
INTERACTIVE SETTINGS
COMMUNICATIVE
ACT
MEANING FIELD
VALIDITY HORIZON
OBJECTIVE
FOREGROUND
INTERMEDIATE
BACKGROUND
SUBJECTIVE
—— IDENTITY ——
NORMATIVE
AND
OR/AND
INTERACTIVE
SETTING
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS
▸ Transparency and thick description—specifically with
regards to documenting the movement between first
order observation and second order abstraction.
▸ Does NOT account for transparency regarding selection of
a quote or communicative instance in the first place.
CONCLUSION AND NEXT STEPS
THIS RESEARCH WAS FUNDED IN PART BY NSF IIS CREATIVE IT (#1002772) AND
THE INTEL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER FOR SOCIAL COMPUTING.
THANK YOU
I THINK THIS WHOLE DISCUSSION HINGES ON A VERY SIMPLE QUESTION.
WHY IS IT WORTHWHILE TO ARTIFICIALLY PROMOTE A CHANGE IN AN
EXISTING COMMUNITY. IF THE ANSWER IS BECAUSE THE HACKERSPACE
SHOULD BE INCLUSIVE TO EVERYONE, MY ANSWER IS NO, IT SHOULD NOT
BE. BY IT'S VERY NATURE IT'S ALREADY EXCLUSIONARY. IT'S A
HACKERSPACE. NOT A BAKE SHOP. NOT A PETTING ZOO. NOT A RACE TRACK.
IT HAS A SPECIFIC FOCUS, AND BY THAT IT IS ALREADY EXCLUSIONARY.
MORE TO THE POINT, HACKERSPACES ARE BUILT AROUND COMMUNITIES.
AND COMMUNITIES THEMSELVES ARE EXCLUSIONARY. IF YOU DON'T JIVE
WELL WITH A COMMUNITY, YOU DON'T BELONG TO THAT COMMUNITY, GO
FIND ANOTHER ONE. IF YOU THINK THAT YOUR HACKERSPACE CAN BE HOME
TO ALL THE PEOPLES, YOU AREN'T BUILDING A HACKERSPACE YOU ARE
BUILDING A PUBLIC LIBRARY, AND BY ALL MEANS ENJOY THE CRACKHEADS
AND GOOD LUCK KEEPING THAT INCLUSIVE TO EVERYONE. ASK
NOISEBRIDGE HOW THAT WENT FOR THEM. […]
CASE TWO
CASE TWO Meaning Field
“The existing community should take precedent over
any subsequent community” AND “anything that
changes that community from the outside is artificial/
bad” BECAUSE “that community already works/is good”
AND “should be allowed to change naturally.” AND “It is
more important to cater to who fits in already than to
consider who could fit in.” 



OR / AND “Hackerspaces should not try to be inclusive”
BECAUSE “trying to be broadly inclusive will lead to
‘undesirables’ like Noisebridge” AND “Noisebridge is a
bad model” AND “hackers can’t handle inclusivity and
diversity” BECAUSE “hackers are strange/odd/unwell”
AND “a hackerspace is not a public facility” AND
THEREFORE “it does not have to cater to everyone”



OR / AND “It is not important to worry about who is or is
not included in the space” BECAUSE “people either fit in
or not on their own” AND “People who don’t feel like
they fit in must not really share our interests”
OTHERWISE “they would feel comfortable” AND
“people should be able to adapt to hostile environments
if they are interested.”
“The existing community should take precedent over any subsequent community” AND
“anything that changes that community from the outside is artificial/bad” BECAUSE “that
community already works/is good” AND “should be allowed to change naturally.” AND “It
is more important to cater to who fits in already than to consider who could fit in.” 



OR / AND “Hackerspaces should not try to be inclusive” BECAUSE “trying to be broadly
inclusive will lead to ‘undesirables’ like Noisebridge” AND “Noisebridge is a bad model”
AND “hackers can’t handle inclusivity and diversity” BECAUSE “hackers are strange/odd/
unwell” AND “a hackerspace is not a public facility” AND THEREFORE “it does not have to
cater to everyone”



OR / AND “It is not important to worry about who is or is not included in the space”
BECAUSE “people either fit in or not on their own” AND “People who don’t feel like they fit
in must not really share our interests” OTHERWISE “they would feel comfortable” AND
“people should be able to adapt to hostile environments if they are interested.”
CASE TWO Validity Horizon
OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY
FOREGROUND
Hackerspaces are communities
that are NOT public spaces.
I worry that being inclusive to
everyone will lead to including
people who are undesirable
(e.g., crackheads).
I would not want to end up like
Noisebridge, whose problems
include being over-inclusive.
Existing communities and their
underlying culture should be
protected against“artificial”
change.
“Artificial changes”should be
discouraged.
I am an authority on this issue.
I am not the type of person to
hedge or not tell things the
way that they are.
MIDGROUND
This is a controversial issue
with multiple sides.
Hackers are not“normal”and
are exactly the wrong people
to understand complex social
issues.
I am frustrated that this conver-
sation is taking place.
If participants are truly
“hackers,”they will share our
interests and should feel com-
fortable here. Hackerspaces
should not worry about being
inclusive.
Hackers should focus on the
people who already fit in, rath-
er than those who could fit in.
I understand what is good for
hackerspaces and what is not.
BACKGROUND
The community that already
exists in a given space should
only change on its own.
The existing community is
already functioning, and thus
“perfect”in some sense.
I feel defensive when I think my
community’s culture might be
under attack.
We should be careful and
serious about policy changes
that alter the culture of the
hackerspace community.
People should be able to
adapt to or overcome hostile
environments if their interests
are aligned enough.
I wish to keep hackerspaces
“pure”in the ways I deem
appropriate.
MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH
COMMENTARY BY ELLIE HARMON
▸ Regarding the place of ‘methods’ in HCI analysis and
publications
▸ What does rigor mean, anyway?
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Meaning Reconstruction as an Approach to Analyze Critical Dimensions of HCI Research

  • 1. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AS AN APPROACH TO ANALYZE CRITICAL DIMENSIONS OF HCI RESEARCH COLIN M. GRAY1, AUSTIN L. TOOMBS2, & CHRISTIAN MCKAY2 1 Purdue University; 2 Indiana University
  • 2. CRITICAL HCI RESEARCH LACKS TRANSPARENCY PROVOCATION
  • 3. CRITICAL HCI RESEARCH LACKS TRANSPARENCY PROVOCATION METATHEORETICALLY: theoretical commitments METHODOLOGICALLY: complete description of method TRANSLATIONAL: how data are transformed into insights
  • 4. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH AGENDA 1. Increase in critical and qualitative research in HCI 2. Carspecken’s critical qualitative approach 3. Demonstration of meaning reconstruction techniques using ethnographic data 4. Reflection on the contribution of such an approach to help strengthen rigorous critical inquiry in HCI
  • 5. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH CRITICAL RESEARCH IS 
 ON THE RISE IN HCI,REPORTING OF RESEARCH IS FRAMED BY HCI’S SCIENTISTIC HISTORY, AND WE LACK MEANS TO LINK DATA TO CRITICAL INSIGHTS
  • 6. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH CRITICAL RESEARCH IS 
 ON THE RISE IN HCI,REPORTING OF RESEARCH IS FRAMED BY HCI’S SCIENTISTIC HISTORY, AND WE LACK MEANS TO LINK DATA TO CRITICAL INSIGHTS Feminism 
 (Bardzell & Bardzell, 2011) Normative commitments 
 of social systems 
 (DiSalvo, 2012; Sawyer & Jarrahi, 2014; Toombs, Bardzell, & Bardzell, 2015) Ethical responsibilities of 
 designing technologies 
 (Dourish et al., 2004; Sengers et al., 2005; Shilton, 2012)
  • 7. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH CRITICAL RESEARCH IS 
 ON THE RISE IN HCI,REPORTING OF RESEARCH IS FRAMED BY HCI’S SCIENTISTIC HISTORY, AND WE LACK MEANS TO LINK DATA TO CRITICAL INSIGHTS Remnants of scientism in HCI’s history have made reporting and evaluation of critical research challenging
  • 8. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH CRITICAL RESEARCH IS 
 ON THE RISE IN HCI,REPORTING OF RESEARCH IS FRAMED BY HCI’S SCIENTISTIC HISTORY, AND WE LACK MEANS TO LINK DATA TO CRITICAL INSIGHTS
  • 9. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH CRITICAL RESEARCH IS 
 ON THE RISE IN HCI,REPORTING OF RESEARCH IS FRAMED BY HCI’S SCIENTISTIC HISTORY, AND WE LACK MEANS TO LINK DATA TO CRITICAL INSIGHTS Richer methods are needed to comprehensively document and explain the ways in which communicative acts and social norms are linked, in both temporal and 
 experiential ways
  • 10. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH CHARACTERISTICS OF QUALITATIVE & CRITICAL RESEARCH 1. THICK DESCRIPTION 2. TRANSPARENCY 3. SELF-DISCLOSURE 4. REFLEXIVITY Sufficient explanation of method and presentation of data to allow an external entity access into the mindset of the researcher (Dennis, Carspecken, & Carspecken, 2013; 
 Glaser & Strauss, 1967;
 Lincoln & Guba, 1985) }
  • 11. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY (& THEORETICAL COMMITMENTS) CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY (CARSPECKEN, 1996) THEORY OF 
 COMMUNICATIVE ACTION J. HABERMAS SPEECH ACT THEORY J. L. AUSTIN STRUCTURATION A. GIDDENS
  • 12. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY (& THEORETICAL COMMITMENTS) CRITICAL ETHNOGRAPHY (CARSPECKEN, 1996) INTERSUBJECTIVITY Mutual understanding defined by position-taking The intersubjective space forms whenever we act communicatively, and we take on multiple subject positions when communicating.
  • 13. TWO RECONSTRUCTIVE ANALYSIS TECHNIQUES MEANING FIELDS & VALIDITY HORIZONS EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
  • 14. “IF THERE’S SOMETHING WE CAN FIX THAT DROVE THEM AWAY, THEN WE SHOULD WORRY ABOUT IT. BUT OTHERWISE THERE ARE LOTS OF REASONS PEOPLE MIGHT STOP COMING. AS LONG AS WE MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE ALL EXCELLENT TO EACH OTHER THEN THAT’S THE BEST THAT WE CAN DO.” JENNIFER ON WHAT THE COMMUNITY’S RESPONSIBILITY MIGHT BE REGARDING INCLUSIVITY EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
  • 15. adapted from Gray (2014) COMMUNICATIVE ACT MEANING FIELD VALIDITY HORIZON OBJECTIVE FOREGROUND INTERMEDIATE BACKGROUND SUBJECTIVE —— IDENTITY —— NORMATIVE AND OR/AND INTERACTIVE SETTING BOUNDED SET OF POSSIBLE MEANINGS FOR A COMMUNICATIVE ACT CONTEXTUALIZED AND VALIDATED THROUGH EXTENSIVE ENGAGEMENT EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
  • 16. MEANING FIELD “If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone exactly the way we already treat each other”
 
 OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not fit in”
 
 OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”
 
 OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be given special treatment or attention”
  • 17. adapted from Gray (2014) COMMUNICATIVE ACT MEANING FIELD VALIDITY HORIZON OBJECTIVE FOREGROUND INTERMEDIATE BACKGROUND SUBJECTIVE —— IDENTITY —— NORMATIVE AND OR/AND INTERACTIVE SETTING WHAT VALIDITY CLAIMS MUST BE ASSUMED TO MAKE THE COMMUNICATIVE ACT 
 INTERNALLY RATIONAL? EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
  • 18. HABERMAS’ THREE FORMAL WORLDS ACT OBJECTIVE multiple access “the world” SUBJECTIVE limited access “my world” NORMATIVE should/ought to be “our world” EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
  • 19. HABERMAS’ THREE FORMAL WORLDS OBJECTIVE multiple access “the world” SUBJECTIVE limited access “my world” NORMATIVE should/ought to be “our world” IDENTITY the kind of person I am “I” ACT EXAMPLE QUOTE | MEANING FIELD | VALIDITY HORIZON
  • 20. “If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone exactly the way we already treat each other”
 
 OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not fit in”
 
 OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”
 
 OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be given special treatment or attention” CASE ONE Validity Horizon OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY FOREGROUND We lost a few members. It was not our fault /“shit happens.” I feel comfortable here. We should not be worried about our behavior. We should not try to change anything about our community. I am/we are good and reasonable people. MIDGROUND One of the members we lost was one of very few female members. I’m worried we did something to push them away. “Be excellent to each other”is a sufficient guiding philosophy for our community. Everyone should feel comfortable here. Everyone should be treated exactly the same. I can speak for other women’s experiences. I am an authority figure in this space. BACKGROUND Some people just don’t fit in I don’t want it to have been our fault We should ignore people’s backgrounds and personal histories. We should not try to cater to everyone. I am comforting the group.
  • 21. “If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone exactly the way we already treat each other”
 
 OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not fit in”
 
 OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”
 
 OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be given special treatment or attention” CASE ONE Validity Horizon OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY FOREGROUND We lost a few members. It was not our fault /“shit happens.” I feel comfortable here. We should not be worried about our behavior. We should not try to change anything about our community. I am/we are good and reasonable people. MIDGROUND One of the members we lost was one of very few female members. I’m worried we did something to push them away. “Be excellent to each other”is a sufficient guiding philosophy for our community. Everyone should feel comfortable here. Everyone should be treated exactly the same. I can speak for other women’s experiences. I am an authority figure in this space. BACKGROUND Some people just don’t fit in I don’t want it to have been our fault We should ignore people’s backgrounds and personal histories. We should not try to cater to everyone. I am comforting the group.
  • 22. “If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone exactly the way we already treat each other”
 
 OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not fit in”
 
 OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”
 
 OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be given special treatment or attention” CASE ONE Validity Horizon OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY FOREGROUND We lost a few members. It was not our fault /“shit happens.” I feel comfortable here. We should not be worried about our behavior. We should not try to change anything about our community. I am/we are good and reasonable people. MIDGROUND One of the members we lost was one of very few female members. I’m worried we did something to push them away. “Be excellent to each other”is a sufficient guiding philosophy for our community. Everyone should feel comfortable here. Everyone should be treated exactly the same. I can speak for other women’s experiences. I am an authority figure in this space. BACKGROUND Some people just don’t fit in I don’t want it to have been our fault We should ignore people’s backgrounds and personal histories. We should not try to cater to everyone. I am comforting the group.
  • 23. “If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone exactly the way we already treat each other”
 
 OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not fit in”
 
 OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”
 
 OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be given special treatment or attention” CASE ONE Validity Horizon OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY FOREGROUND We lost a few members. It was not our fault /“shit happens.” I feel comfortable here. We should not be worried about our behavior. We should not try to change anything about our community. I am/we are good and reasonable people. MIDGROUND One of the members we lost was one of very few female members. I’m worried we did something to push them away. “Be excellent to each other”is a sufficient guiding philosophy for our community. Everyone should feel comfortable here. Everyone should be treated exactly the same. I can speak for other women’s experiences. I am an authority figure in this space. BACKGROUND Some people just don’t fit in I don’t want it to have been our fault We should ignore people’s backgrounds and personal histories. We should not try to cater to everyone. I am comforting the group.
  • 24. “If they didn’t say anything” THEN “we can’t have done anything wrong” AND “our current behavior is perfectly acceptable for anyone” BECAUSE “it is acceptable for us” AND “we should treat everyone exactly the way we already treat each other”
 
 OR/AND “Hackerspaces are not for everyone” AND “we should not feel bad if someone just does not fit in”
 
 OR/AND “we lost one of our few female members” BUT “I do not think that it was our fault” AND “I am female” AND “I feel comfortable here” THEREFORE “we are not doing anything that discourages female participation” EVEN THOUGH “there are no other females here”
 
 OR/AND “women should be treated exactly the same as men” AND “the policy here is that everyone be ‘excellent to each other’” AND “that is a reasonable policy for anyone” AND “women should not be given special treatment or attention” OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY FOREGROUND We lost a few members. It was not our fault /“shit happens.” I feel comfortable here. We should not be worried about our behavior. We should not try to change anything about our community. I am/we are good and reasonable people. MIDGROUND One of the members we lost was one of very few female members. I’m worried we did something to push them away. “Be excellent to each other”is a sufficient guiding philosophy for our community. Everyone should feel comfortable here. Everyone should be treated exactly the same. I can speak for other women’s experiences. I am an authority figure in this space. BACKGROUND Some people just don’t fit in I don’t want it to have been our fault We should ignore people’s backgrounds and personal histories. We should not try to cater to everyone. I am comforting the group. CASE ONE Validity Horizon
  • 25. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH STRUCTURES COMMUNICATIVE ACTS ROLES INTERACTIVE SETTINGS COMMUNICATIVE ACT MEANING FIELD VALIDITY HORIZON OBJECTIVE FOREGROUND INTERMEDIATE BACKGROUND SUBJECTIVE —— IDENTITY —— NORMATIVE AND OR/AND INTERACTIVE SETTING
  • 26. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS ▸ Transparency and thick description—specifically with regards to documenting the movement between first order observation and second order abstraction. ▸ Does NOT account for transparency regarding selection of a quote or communicative instance in the first place.
  • 28. THIS RESEARCH WAS FUNDED IN PART BY NSF IIS CREATIVE IT (#1002772) AND THE INTEL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER FOR SOCIAL COMPUTING. THANK YOU
  • 29. I THINK THIS WHOLE DISCUSSION HINGES ON A VERY SIMPLE QUESTION. WHY IS IT WORTHWHILE TO ARTIFICIALLY PROMOTE A CHANGE IN AN EXISTING COMMUNITY. IF THE ANSWER IS BECAUSE THE HACKERSPACE SHOULD BE INCLUSIVE TO EVERYONE, MY ANSWER IS NO, IT SHOULD NOT BE. BY IT'S VERY NATURE IT'S ALREADY EXCLUSIONARY. IT'S A HACKERSPACE. NOT A BAKE SHOP. NOT A PETTING ZOO. NOT A RACE TRACK. IT HAS A SPECIFIC FOCUS, AND BY THAT IT IS ALREADY EXCLUSIONARY. MORE TO THE POINT, HACKERSPACES ARE BUILT AROUND COMMUNITIES. AND COMMUNITIES THEMSELVES ARE EXCLUSIONARY. IF YOU DON'T JIVE WELL WITH A COMMUNITY, YOU DON'T BELONG TO THAT COMMUNITY, GO FIND ANOTHER ONE. IF YOU THINK THAT YOUR HACKERSPACE CAN BE HOME TO ALL THE PEOPLES, YOU AREN'T BUILDING A HACKERSPACE YOU ARE BUILDING A PUBLIC LIBRARY, AND BY ALL MEANS ENJOY THE CRACKHEADS AND GOOD LUCK KEEPING THAT INCLUSIVE TO EVERYONE. ASK NOISEBRIDGE HOW THAT WENT FOR THEM. […] CASE TWO
  • 30. CASE TWO Meaning Field “The existing community should take precedent over any subsequent community” AND “anything that changes that community from the outside is artificial/ bad” BECAUSE “that community already works/is good” AND “should be allowed to change naturally.” AND “It is more important to cater to who fits in already than to consider who could fit in.” 
 
 OR / AND “Hackerspaces should not try to be inclusive” BECAUSE “trying to be broadly inclusive will lead to ‘undesirables’ like Noisebridge” AND “Noisebridge is a bad model” AND “hackers can’t handle inclusivity and diversity” BECAUSE “hackers are strange/odd/unwell” AND “a hackerspace is not a public facility” AND THEREFORE “it does not have to cater to everyone”
 
 OR / AND “It is not important to worry about who is or is not included in the space” BECAUSE “people either fit in or not on their own” AND “People who don’t feel like they fit in must not really share our interests” OTHERWISE “they would feel comfortable” AND “people should be able to adapt to hostile environments if they are interested.”
  • 31. “The existing community should take precedent over any subsequent community” AND “anything that changes that community from the outside is artificial/bad” BECAUSE “that community already works/is good” AND “should be allowed to change naturally.” AND “It is more important to cater to who fits in already than to consider who could fit in.” 
 
 OR / AND “Hackerspaces should not try to be inclusive” BECAUSE “trying to be broadly inclusive will lead to ‘undesirables’ like Noisebridge” AND “Noisebridge is a bad model” AND “hackers can’t handle inclusivity and diversity” BECAUSE “hackers are strange/odd/ unwell” AND “a hackerspace is not a public facility” AND THEREFORE “it does not have to cater to everyone”
 
 OR / AND “It is not important to worry about who is or is not included in the space” BECAUSE “people either fit in or not on their own” AND “People who don’t feel like they fit in must not really share our interests” OTHERWISE “they would feel comfortable” AND “people should be able to adapt to hostile environments if they are interested.” CASE TWO Validity Horizon OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE NORMATIVE IDENTITY FOREGROUND Hackerspaces are communities that are NOT public spaces. I worry that being inclusive to everyone will lead to including people who are undesirable (e.g., crackheads). I would not want to end up like Noisebridge, whose problems include being over-inclusive. Existing communities and their underlying culture should be protected against“artificial” change. “Artificial changes”should be discouraged. I am an authority on this issue. I am not the type of person to hedge or not tell things the way that they are. MIDGROUND This is a controversial issue with multiple sides. Hackers are not“normal”and are exactly the wrong people to understand complex social issues. I am frustrated that this conver- sation is taking place. If participants are truly “hackers,”they will share our interests and should feel com- fortable here. Hackerspaces should not worry about being inclusive. Hackers should focus on the people who already fit in, rath- er than those who could fit in. I understand what is good for hackerspaces and what is not. BACKGROUND The community that already exists in a given space should only change on its own. The existing community is already functioning, and thus “perfect”in some sense. I feel defensive when I think my community’s culture might be under attack. We should be careful and serious about policy changes that alter the culture of the hackerspace community. People should be able to adapt to or overcome hostile environments if their interests are aligned enough. I wish to keep hackerspaces “pure”in the ways I deem appropriate.
  • 32. MEANING RECONSTRUCTION AND CRITICAL RESEARCH COMMENTARY BY ELLIE HARMON ▸ Regarding the place of ‘methods’ in HCI analysis and publications ▸ What does rigor mean, anyway?