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Interactive species: GOFIs, Things and Beings

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At the end of our book "Things That Keep Us Busy--the elements of interaction" (Janlert and Stolterman, 2017, MIT Press) we spend some time speculating about the future of interaction. One of the ideas we present is to consider three forms of interactive 'species'. We claim that even if our ideas are speculations, they are not pure fantasy, actually, we argue that they are logical consequences of the examination of the nature of interaction that we engaged with throughout the book. So, here are a few pages that present some of these ideas (page 198-202).


"11.1 Things and Beings

Any attempt to imagine what may lie ahead easily becomes science fiction or pure fantasy. Not least when it comes to interactivity—a popular topic of futuristic portrayals in science fiction movies. It is exciting to imagine futuristic scenarios where the methods and patterns of interaction have completely changed due to some unknown technology. It is tempting to imagine future forms of i…

Practical (design) reasoning explained (Martha Nussbaum)

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After quite many years I am re-reading an essay by Martha Nussbaum. The title is "The Discernment of Perception: An Aristotelian Conception of Private and Public Rationality" (to be found in the book "Love's Knowledge--essays on philosophy and literature" published in 1990). This essay helped me a lot when it was first published and it has influenced my thinking over the years in so many ways. It is therefore great to re-read it carefully now, many years later and realize that it is even better now.

Even though the title of this essay may scare some people with its complexity and reference to Aristotle, the essay is in my view one of the best texts ever written about practical reasoning and judgment. It is an essay that resonates perfectly with anyone who is reflecting on design practice and how designers reason, think and make judgments.

Nussman discusses why practical reasoning is not possible to understand with some simplistic (scientific)  form of logic. She…

"How to think" by Alan Jacobs

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I just want to recommend Alan Jacobs new book "How to think --  a survival guide for a world at odds". It is a wonderful book that is easy to read about an extraordinarily important topic. What resonates with my own thinking is the argument that thinking is work, it leads to trouble, it is slow, and it is far from comforting. Excellent thinking about thinking. Great examples. Useful advice. Read it.

The Basic Anatomy of Interaction

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What is interaction and how can we describe it? In our recent book "Things That Keep Us Busy--the elements of interaction" we take on this challenge and we develop, what we call, an anatomy of interaction.  We also develop a detailed account of when it is reasonable to say that interaction actually takes place. We do this by employing the notion of the "window of interaction" (more on that later).

Below I am briefly presenting some of the work on our anatomy of interaction (from Chapter 4 in the book, as a teaser :-)

The basic elements of the anatomy are artifact and user. Interaction takes places between a human and an artifact/system, as described in the figure below (4.3).


Some of the terms used in the figure need to be explained since they mean very specific things. First of all, an artifact has certain 'states':

internal states, or i-states for short, are the functionally important interior states of the artifact or system.
external states, or e-st…

Some great books on rationality

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In my last post, I talked about my interest in the relationship between designing and rationality. Here are some of my major inspirational sources for this project.



New book project "Nature of design rationality"

I have since my early days of being a Ph.D. student been intrigued by the question of what it means to be rational and to act rationally. This interest manifested itself in my Ph.D. dissertation that translated to English had the title "The Hidden Rationality of Design Work".

Reading about rationality has since then been a lifelong side project, almost like a hobby. I have not done so much writing on the topic but I have read. Recently I have started a book project around designing and rationality (maybe with a title similar to my dissertation, however with different content).

The main idea of this project is that the designing, as a major human approach for change, still struggles with a "hidden rationality". Even though today the praise of designing is stronger than ever before, it is far from clear what is the distinguishing features of the approach compared to other approaches. What is the rationality underlying designing that makes it into a unique approach an…

Book note: The Grace of Great Things - Creativity and Innovation by Robert Grudin

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Looking through your bookshelves is exciting. I have recently experimented with looking at my books and almost randomly picked one to read in. Today I picked Robert Grudin's book "The Grace of Great Things - Creativity and innovation" from 1990.

I remember when I read the book the first time, probably in the mid-90s, I was intrigued and excited to read about creativity in a way that made much more sense to me than most other books on the topic. The typical books on creativity use examples of famous creative people and innovations. They tell stories and, in the best case, try to abstract some useful aspects that regular people could potentially use. In most cases, I find those book uninteresting and not very useful (even though they usually have good stories). Grudin's book is different. It is actually more philosophical but at the same time much more practical and useful.

Grudin sees creativity as something that we, if we do the right things, "deserve". This…