IxD14 Redux - Paz

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Redux of Thomas Wendt's "Designing for Dasein" and Steven Pemberton's "The Computer as Extended Phenotype" from Interaction14 Amsterdam, presented by Pascal Raabe (@jazzpazz) at IxDA London.

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IxD14 Redux - Paz

  1. 1. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz PHILOSOPHY AND THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY I’m going to talk about two presentations that I found quite inspiring: Thomas Wendt’s ‘Design for Dasein’, who talked about Phenomenology and how this relates to Interaction Design; and secondly Steven Pemberton’s talk about evolution and the role that technology plays in it.
  2. 2. DESIGNING FOR DASEIN: WHAT PHILOSOPHY CLASS TAUGHT YOU ABOUT DESIGN Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz Thomas Wendt This talk on Saturday was quite a surprise for me. The title "Designing for Dasein: what philosophy class taught you about design” intrigued me, not least because I never even had a philosophy class in my life, so I was looking forward to finally getting one.
  3. 3. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz Thomas talked about phenomenology, a word that is really hard to pronounce, especially when you’ve just spent 3 days drinking in Amsterdam.  Phenomenology is essentially the study of human experience, so you can see how it is relevant for Interaction Design.
  4. 4. Source: http://www.themanwhofellasleep.com/heidegger.html Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz MARTIN HEIDEGGER (1889-1976) It's about understanding ourselves through objects. The 20th century philosopher Martin Heidegger described it as Dasein, a fancy German word for “being there”. Here’s a lovely quote to chew on …
  5. 5. “ Dasein exists as a being for which, in it’s being, that being is itself an issue. —Heidegger Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz - that’s probably why I never had a philosophy class. So, in short: Use of technology shapes our conception of ourselves and the world. All the experiences we have occur within a use context.  We all know this. But what phenomenology adds is the idea that context of use shapes the interaction.
  6. 6. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz PRETTY HEAVY AND BLUNT WHATEVS According to phenomenology, mental models or representations are less relevant. To understand a hammer for example, it doesn’t help to know what properties the hammer has, it’s much more useful to know how to hammer.
  7. 7. “ No technology is one thing, nor is it incapable of belonging to multiple contexts. —Don Ihde Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz The second point of the talk was Multistability. Don Ihde says technology is multistable. A hammer for example designed to do certain things, to drive a nail into a wall but the design cannot prevent a hammer from becoming a murder weapon, a piece of art, a paperweight…
  8. 8. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz … or anything else. This multistability of use allows designers to discover contexts of use beyond their original intention.
  9. 9. COPING Vorhandenheit: Readiness-at-Hand Zuhandenheit: Presence-to-Hand Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz The third, and I think one of the most interesting points, was about Coping. Thomas explained Heidegger’s concept of Vorhandenheit and Zuhandenheit, two other fancy German words that roughly translated mean “Readiness-at-hand” and “Presence-to-Hand”. Presence-to-hand is the relationship to an object not in use, it is based on theoretical knowledge (knowing-that). The other, Readiness-at-hand is the relationship between an object and user based on active engagement, when the object becomes embodied, we’re not aware of the object itself, but more of the task we accomplish through it.
  10. 10. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz For example when we’re writing with a pencil, the pencil becomes inconspicuous and we’re concentrating fully on the words we’re writing. When the pencil breaks the object becomes conspicuous as an object in need of repair.
  11. 11. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz Heidegger calls dealing with this switch of modes Coping.  We cope with things that break, poor design, and unexpected surprises by creating our own solutions to fit our needs in that situation.
  12. 12. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz User Testing is often about answering the question “Does the product work as intended?” but it’s not really about the product, it’s about what happens *between* the user and the product. So a better way of approaching usability and User testing is through the lens of coping. Instead of trying to simply eliminate the “unintuitive”, we’re observing the various coping strategies users employ (creative misuse for example).
  13. 13. DESIGNER’S PARADOX We cannot think about solutions until we understand problems AND we cannot understand a problem until we think about solutions. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz And lastly, Thomas talked about a paradox that designers are caught up in: We cannot think about solutions until we understand problems AND we cannot understand a problem until we think about solutions.
  14. 14. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz The first part of the paradox is how the traditional design process works. We’re all very familiar with this.
  15. 15. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz The second is more complex – But for example the Lean UX approach, where we start with hypotheses that we can design for and test, is an attempt to solve the paradox.
  16. 16. DESIGN FOR DASEIN @thomas_wendt designfordasein.com Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz Thomas said “We’re constantly dancing around problems and solutions.” Phenomenology helps us understand that we should explore both at the same time. Check out the video and slides, it’s really fascinating.
  17. 17. THE COMPUTER AS EXTENDED PHENOTYPE Steven Pemberton Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz From Philosophy to Biology. From Phenomenology to Phenotype, … hey I’m just trying to find an elegant segue. This talk was fascinating and very entertaining. I’m really just going to summarise the main idea but I encourage you to check out the video of the talk. It’s quite mind blowing. Steven Pemberton talked about the Computer as Extended Phenotype.
  18. 18. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz BACKTRACKING Steven started by talking about how evolution is similar to the concept of backtracking in programming, where the programme explores every possible route until it finds the solution.
  19. 19. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz EVOLUTION Source: wtfevolution.tumblr.com This explains in evolution why sex is more successful than mutation, how the environment impacts on the development of species and that death without offspring is evolution’s backtracking. Steven described the accretion of successful genes as a form of learning, genetic memory so to speak, Similar to the ‘route’ in backtracking and he mentioned some examples such as the reasons why we like sugar and fat so much, why sex is fun etc.
  20. 20. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz LURVE FLICKERING LIGHT True memory was another major development in evolution and allowed learning behaviours: you no longer needed genetic memory to survive, you could use recent outcomes to decide how to act. This is why we naturally seem to like some things and dislike others. It helps us with survival. People like flickering light for example, because it reminds them of fire (unlike animals who avoid fire), humans learnt that flickering light helps us to survive. We like sitting around the campfire or the fireplace in our living rooms.
  21. 21. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz LURVE FLICKERING LIGHT And what else flickers and makes us feel warm and fussy? So this might explain why we like holding glowing rectangles in our faces. It makes us feel safe.
  22. 22. HUMAN PHENOTYPE Visible manifestations of genes (as affected by environment) • Hair colour • Strength • Aggression • Bird nests, beaver dams, spider webs • ... Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz So the phenotype describes all these visible manifestations of genes, hair colour, etc. Now, since humans developed language, it allowed them to create memories that last *longer* than a lifetime. We can now pass on evolutionary advantages through more than just our genes.
  23. 23. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz MEMES This is the concept of memes, like genes, but memories that we’re passing on. So having ideas is now as important as having babies. He said a conference like this is in effect like having an orgy. Lovely thought.
  24. 24. “ The computer is being used in so many ways to extend our abilities, I can see no other possibility than to regard it as part of our extended phenotype. EXTENDED HUMAN PHENOTYPE Abilities Repair Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz This he describes as the “Extended Phenotype”. Technology for example is a manifestation of these memes, it helps our survival quite significantly. For this reason the computer is to be regarded as part of our extended phenotype. And this technology is developing exponentially. We’re all familiar with Moore’s Law (computing power doubles every 18 months). But to demonstrate the true effects of Moore’s Law, he showed this thought experiment.
  25. 25. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz MOORE’S LAW You take a piece of paper, divide it in two, and write this year's date in one half. Now divide the other half in two vertically, and write the date 18 months ago in one half. Now divide the remaining space in half, and write the date 18 months earlier (or in other words 3 years ago) in one half. Repeat until the date of your first computer. What this shows is your current computer is more powerful than all other computers you have had *put together*.
  26. 26. PARADIGM SHIFTS Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz And like this, the rate of technological change has been increasing exponentially over hundreds of thousands of years. Particularly successful memes have caused paradigm shifts in human society, fueling the next generation of memes. Some believe we're on the path to reaching the Singularity, where machines become indistinguishable from humans.
  27. 27. SINGULARITY Seven new paradigms before breakfast. Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz Steven concludes that possibly within our lifetimes, we will be confronted with a very interesting time, when we may have to contend with seven new paradigms before breakfast every day. All because of the development of language, and therefore memes that make us so much more flexible in our ability to survive. I leave you with this.
  28. 28. THANKS Steven Pemberton @stevenpemberton http://us2.co/phenotype Interaction14 Redux// @jazzpazz Check out his slides at the link above. These were my two of my favourite talks at Interaction14. I look forward to the discussion afterwards.

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