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Presentation Information     2013-01-28 (14:15)   •  The seminar room at Vi2

Speaker Mikael Laaksoharju
Title Theorizing about artifacts
Abstract At this seminar I want to discuss a simple shift of perspective to facilitate constructive dialogue between interaction designers and users. In essence, the idea is to start regarding artifacts as hypotheses rather than as results, which further assumes that these are constructed according to a theory. Presently, such theories seem heavily based on functional requirements with mostly unvoiced assertions about users. The shift of perspective puts focus on acknowledging and making explicit the knowledge, presuppositions and ideas that designers and developers (DDs) have about users and their situations. I call this explication a Situated Theory of Use and it comprises the DDs’ understanding of the users and the use situation. The suggested value of it can be summarized in four main claims: 1) It promotes thoughtful design, founded in agreed-upon arguments. 2) Scrutiny is reversed and by that the process becomes truly user centred. Instead of DDs treating users as objects of study, users are enabled to assess the assumptions that are made about them. 3) Once a Situated Theory of Use is accepted by the intended users, DDs are liberated to focus their expertise on developing a hypothesis, i.e. an artifact, that is then tried in use. Problems are identified as due to either erroneous theory or hypothesis and the procedure can be reiterated. 4) This limits the time that is invested in actually building the wrong solution. The approach is pragmatic but since it explicitly advocates theorizing and argues for falsification of hypotheses in concrete use, it may also be an avenue to conduct research about artifacts.