Interaction design Research

PhD Afterparty

I’m happy to say that my PhD defense went very well, and that I am now officially entering my post-doctoral life. The defense was recorded, and I’m looking into a neat way of combining the video stream with my slides and manuscript. Also, I’m adding the finishing touches to the dissertation, which I will make available alongside the statement from the committee.

So, what’s next?

Although the final PhD writing sprint dragged me away from the various research projects that I was involved in, I have rapidly been finding myself re-involved. I’m in a research position that spans the rest of the year, so this fall I will be working on the Digital Urban Living project, as well as teaching two classes, Knowledge Sharing and Organizational Learning and Introduction to Interaction Design.

Interaction design Publications Research

PhD Defense June 25th

My dissertation, Designing Engaging Interactive Environments: A Pragmatist Perspective, has been accepted by my PhD committee, and I will be defending it on June 25th. The event is open to the public, so feel free to swing by – here is the official invitation (.pdf). I’m psyched that it got accepted, and a bit anxious in the face of the defense itself.

I’ll be giving a 30 minute presentation of my PhD project – not a very long stretch of time to present three years of research – followed by 3×45 minutes of discussions with the members of the committee: Peter Wright, Research Professor at Sheffield Hallam University, Thomas Binder, Associate Professor at the Danish Design School, and Ole Iversen, chairman of the committee and Associate Professor at Aarhus University. Though I expect tough questions and a bit of academic slugging, I also look forward to discussing the potentials and problems of my research. If all goes well with the defense, I’ll write up a summary of the response from the committee and make it available along with the dissertation proper.

Interaction design Publications Research

Some late thoughts about CHI 2009

Roughly a month ago I attended the CHI 2009 conference in Boston straight after handing in my dissertation. Together with co-authors Lone Koefoed Hansen and Kim Halskov, I had two papers for presentation: Performing Perception – Staging Aesthetics of Interaction and Dynamically Transparent Windows. In addition to the plethora of activities and presentation tracks, this made for a rather hectic conference experience. Having had a few weeks to let things sink in, I consider the conference to be the most interesting I have yet attended in my (admittedly brief) academic carreer.

With 14 parallel sessions, there was always something fascinating going on, and much like music festivals, this meant that I had to make tough choices and miss talks and panels that I would have liked to attend. I must give credit to the organizers for exploring a variety of different presentation and discussion forms: Workshops, courses, colloquia, keynotes, short papers, long papers, case studies, panel discussions, design community talks, invited thematic presentations, presentation of selected journal publications, alt.chi presentations, and numerous extra-curricular activities, including an inspiring visit to the MIT Media Lab. As an interesting addition there were a number of “battle-sessions” in which the presentation of particularly contestable papers were followed by panel-discussions, e.g. concerning the role of ethnography in design, or the quantification of experiential aspects of interaction.

Out of the many good contributions (there was a total of 277 accepted papers), I’ve selected six that I found particularly fascinating with regards to my own research interests, and which I hope to discuss in more length in future posts:

Bardzell: Interaction Criticism and Aesthetics

Benford, Giannachi & Koleva
: From Interaction to Trajectories: Designing Coherent Journeys Through User Experiences

Gaver et al: Anatomy of a Failure: How We Knew When Our Design Went Wrong, and What We Learned From It

Snibbe & Raffle: 
Social Immersive Media: Pursuing Best Practices for Multi-user Interactive Camera/projector Exhibits

Herring et al: 
Getting Inspired! Understanding How and Why Examples are Used in Creative Design Practice

Lim, Stolterman & Tenenberg
: The Anatomy of Prototypes: Prototypes as Filters, Prototypes as Manifestations of Design Ideas


First impressions of Wolfram’s Alpha

ReadWriteWeb takes a first look at Alpha, a new “computational knowledge engine” based on Stephen Wolfram‘s Mathematica, poised to go live within the next  weeks. Though touted as a potential Google killer, it is in fact a different sort of beast. Rather than constantly scouring the web, it is built around curated data from various sources, which is then subjected to Natural Language Processing algorithms based on Mathematica code. The search interface is seemingly similar to that of Google et al. whereas the results stand out, providing not only proposed answers but also an array of related information. The results will also present links to the sources used for the answer.

ReadWriteWeb’s article is based on a demo which featured number-crunching searches and replies, so one could hypothesize that Alpha will be mainly geared towards such queries. It will be interesting to see how well the notion of curated data and well-crafted results plays out in real life.

For more snippets of information, have a look at The Guardian’s preview of Alpha, or get an extensive overview and analysis at CNET.