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  Tuesday, March 15, 2005

  Paper - Five Lenses: Towards a Toolkit for Interaction Design

While looking for CFP for persistent conversations at HICSS 2006 I came across a draft chapter from Tom Erickson: Five Lenses: Towards a Toolkit for Interaction Design, which lays out five different perspectives to look at interaction (mind, proxemics, artifacts, the social, the ecological) and discusses multi-perspective approach in design.

It's thoughtful and easy read, so you should do it yourself. The rest are my pickings:

On artifacts (for those who want more references on artefacts and thinking :)

Next we shift our view to the artifacts in the picture [Tom uses a photo of chessplay in a city squareto discuss five lenses]. We see a chessboard arrayed with white and black pieces; off to one side we see a cluster of captured black pieces, and off to the other a pair of chess clocks. These artifacts play a variety of roles, interacting with the views from other lenses. One role of artifacts, that Norman explores in Things that Make Us Smart (1993), is to ease the cognitive load: the board and the pattern of pieces on it serve to preserve the state of the game, enabling players to focus on planning their next moves. Another role of artifacts is their status as objects that are manipulated by the participants. While the manipulation of chess pieces is a relatively simple matter, ethnomethodologists like David Sudnow demonstrate that the ways in which people physically interact with objects is incredibly subtle. In his book, Ways of the Hand, Sudnow (2001) gives an exquisitely detailed account of the process of learning improvise jazz on the piano, and the ways in which his hands (not his mind) learned to traverse the keys.  A third role of artifacts is depicted by Ed Hutchins in Cognition in the Wild (1995), in which he explores the view that cognition is not just a property of minds, but can be seen as a global property of systems of people and artifacts. A fourth role of artifacts is a social one, in that the pair of clocks substitute for a human time keeper. This view is explored by Bruno Latour (1992), who eloquently makes the case for a sociology of artifacts, suggesting that it is artifacts which stabilize and extend human interaction patterns. This lens--with the glimpses it gives of artifacts and their varied roles--is important for those who design material artifacts, as well as for those who aim to replace material objects with digital 'equivalents.'

On the role of theory:

[...] two roles of theory stand in tension to one another: the utility of a theory for promoting debate and further articulation of itself within a field may actually interfere with its utility in communicating beyond the field. The requirements for promoting articulation within a field involve supporting the creation of distinctions and nuances that can serve as the ground upon positions can be established, whereas the requirements for communicating beyond a field require the ability to depict the conceptual framework in a few bold and broad strokes of the brush. While the ability of a framework to support the finely detailed nuance is not necessarily at odds with the ability to also serve as a simplifying framework, it often is.

This is pretty much the dilemma I have with my PKM model: I envision it as a tool for communication "between fields" and "beyond the field" which call for simplicity, but I'm not sure that this is something that would be "good enough" for the PhD.

And, finally, the paper is one more sign that I should look at pattern language.

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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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