Informatics 131: Human Computer Interaction

Winter 2014 // UCI Department of Informatics // Ellie Harmon

Admin // Schedule // Sketching // Reading // Design

Reading responses are meant to help you synthesize and reflect on assigned readings. They are also meant to be an opportunity for you to reflect on your own opinions in the context of the class.

They will be due at the START of class on the day for which the reading is assigned. Please bring the assignment to class on paper – it may be either printed out, or hand written. Reading responses will NOT be accepted late.

Please make sure to include the following at the TOP of each assignment

Your total response grade makes up 25% of your total grade for the class. There are 5 reading responses through the quarter, which will be weighted evenly. Therefore, each one is worth 5 points towards your final grade.

There will be two opportunities for an extra credit response (week 8 & week 10). You may earn up to 5 points extra credit for a well-written response to either one. You may not receive credit for both.

Grading is based on how well you demonstrate knowledge of the assigned reading AND how well you communicate your own ideas about the topic.

R1: History of HCI

Due at the beginning of class, January 9.

Please answer each of the following four questions. A complete answer to questions 2-4 should take approximately 3 sentences per question.

  1. What are the five design imperatives that Gillian Smith talks about?
  2. Why was Stu Card frustrated with precursors to HCI like ‘Human Factors’? What did he want to do differently?
  3. What was Tim Mott’s initial reaction to the POLOS system when he first flew out to visit PARC? How did he go about deciding how to change the system?
  4. In his short essay for interactions, Grudin highlights the stories of two female engineers from the early 20th century. He argues that while these women are often left out of typical HCI histories, they were pioneers of the methods and goals that would become central to the field of HCI decades later. Thinking across all of the readings for today, how would you summarize the central goals or ideas that are important to HCI? How do you think the field of HCI has impacted your own life? What would be different without it?

R2: Foundations of Interaction

Due in class, Thursday, January 16

  1. Give one example of an ‘affordance’ or ‘signifier’ that you encounter in your daily life. Explain why it is an affordance or signifier.

  2. Give an example of a time when you or someone you know had trouble using some kind of technology and the situation could have been improved with a better-designed signifier.

R3: Envisioning

Due in class, Thursday, January 23

Think about the site where you are doing observations for your design project. Write a short fiction that imagines what you might see if you were doing the same observations in 2024 (10 years from now).

This should be 500-1000 words in length. (For comparison, Weiser’s short story about Sal is 900 words. Your story should be similar to this.)

In the reading for this week, Stuart Reeves argues that envisionings, such as Weiser’s, make for bad predictions of the future, but are important to HCI, Design, and Ubicomp in other ways. Reflect on your own work in this exercise. How does Reeves think envisionings can be helpful? Was it helpful for you as you think about your design project? Why or why not?

R4: Values & Design

Due in class, Thursday, January 30

  1. Give a 2-sentence summary of what “value sensitive design” is.

  2. Explain what limitations or problems LeDantec et al. find with existing VSD, and briefly summarize what they propose to do differently.

  3. Brainstorm a list of values that are important to your project for this class. List at least 4 values. For at least 2 of these values, reflect on the meaning of the value in the context of your project. Your reflection should address all of the following questions:

    1. What does the value mean in the context of your project?
    2. Who is the value is important to?
    3. Does the value have different meanings or are there multiple ways to enact it?
    4. How is technology related?
    • Example: In family life, family members often value ‘togetherness.’ This value is about spending time or being with another family member, and feeling connected. People sometimes enact this value by turning off their phones around the dinner table in order to feel more present and in the moment with other family members. Other times people enact this value by using their phones to share a photo with someone who cannot be present. The same technology (a phone) can be both supportive of this value (when people use it to share pictures), and can threaten this value (when people feel it is distracting).

R5: Reflective Design

Due in class, Thursday, February 6

  1. How do the authors define “critical reflection”?

  2. What is the goal of “critical design” as demonstrated in the work of Dunne & Raby?

  3. Choose one of the “principles of reflective design” and explain how this principle could apply to your project this quarter. (2-5 sentences)

  4. Choose one of the “strategies for reflective design” and explain how it could apply to your project this quarter. (2-5 sentences)

Option: If you really liked these readings and you are interested in doing a speculative/reflective/critical design project instead of a standard HCI project, you must come meet with me during my office hours THIS WEEK.

R6: Limits of Design? (Extra Credit)

Reminder: you can only receive credit for ONE of the two extra credit reading responses.

Due in class, Tuesday, March 11.

  1. On the very first page of Colin McSwiggin’s “Designing Culture” piece, the following quote is highlighted: “DESIGN PLAYS A CENTRAL ROLE IN CULTURAL REPRODUCTION. THIS ISN’T NECESSARILY A GOOD THING, FOR ANYONE.” Summarize the argument that McSwiggin makes for how design is part of cultural reproduction (or give a good example that makes this relationship clear). From McSwiggin’s point of view, why isn’t this a good thing?
  2. Phoebe Sengers’ ends her article, “What I learned on Change Islands” with a question, “Can IT design as an influence compete with a pervasive cultural atmosphere of overwork and overload?” Thinking about the rest of the article, explain the relationships between IT and the cultural logics or values of choice, control, and productivity that lead her to this question. Does IT create these logics?
  3. Summarize Baumer & Silberman’s argument for why we should not always frame design in terms of problems and solutions.
  4. In “When the Implication is Not to Design (Technology),” Eric Baumer and Six Silberman present a set of three specific questions. Answer each of these questions with regards to the design project you’ve been working on this quarter.

R7: Wicked Problems and Postcolonial Computing (Extra Credit)

Reminder: you can only receive credit for ONE of the two extra credit reading responses.

Due in class, Thursday, March 13.

  1. Explain what a ‘wicked problem’ is, and, why, from Kolko’s point of view, wicked problems don’t usually get solved?
  2. Kolko mentions ‘sustainability’ as an example of a wicked problem. On Tuesday, Baumer & Silberman argued against framing ‘sustainability’ as a ‘wicked problem’ – why? What did they suggest framing it as instead? What do you think Kolko would think about this?
  3. Give a short description (1-3 sentences each) of each of the three aspects of postcolonial computing that Irani et al identify: Engagement, Articulation, and Translation.
  4. In the first case study, Irani et al. argue against the use of taxonomic models of culture. What is a taxonomic model of culture – giving an example is good, but I also want you to try to summarize what this term means? Why do Irani et al. find taxonomic models problematic? What alternative cultural model do they propose?