Interaction design Publications

Designing Engaging Interactive Environments: A Pragmatist Perspective

Dalsgaard, Peter (2009): Designing Engaging Interactive Environments: A Pragmatist Perspective.
PhD dissertation, Dept. of Information and Media Studies, Aarhus University (PDF, 38MB)

My PhD dissertation, Designing Engaging Interactive Environments: A Pragmatist Perspective, was handed in April 30th 2009 and defended on June 25th 2009. Below I have embedded a video of my talk at the defense – you can skip the introduction and formalities and jump to 2:50 for the main presentation. The slides are not very clear on the video, so these are embedded as a slidecast below the video. If you don’t feel like watching the proceedings, you can also download the manuscript for my presentation (.pdf) to read alongside the slides.

Summary of the dissertation:

The dissertation summarizes three years of research guided by the overarching question: “How can we conceptualize the design and use of engaging interactive environments?”. The dissertation is composed of a selection of publications framed by an overview. My primary area of concern is the design process, however it is also crucial that designers gain a reflective understanding of the use situation in addition to the design situation. For this reason, the included papers as well as the overview span both of these areas. In order to expand upon the understanding of the design and use of interactive environments, I develop a conceptual scaffolding on the basis of concepts from the pragmatist philosophy of John Dewey, with a particular focus on creativity and technology in inquiry.

My research approach is based upon practice-based engagement in experimental design cases supplemented by literature surveys and continuous discussions and analyses of the cases and the domain of study in various fora. Central parts of this work is reported on in the included papers, each of which presents a set of contributions related to specific areas of related work, research questions, methods, and discussions. In addition to these papers, the overview contributes with an explication and discussion of my research approach, labelled “research in and through design”, and the development of a pragmatist perspective that functions as a conceptual scaffolding for addressing my research question. In this pragmatist perspective, I examine and develop the concept inquiry and the notions of dialogical and distributed creativity as well as experiential and transformative technology as means for understanding the design and use of engaging interactive environments.

The contributions of the dissertation fall into three general categories:

(1) A conceptual foundation, with regards to the development of a pragmatist perspective on interaction design on the basis of key concepts drawn from the work of John Dewey in relation to my research agenda.

(2) Means for design and design reflection, with regards to the development of specific techniques for design practice and reflection, as well as the articulation and discussion of design considerations that can inform reflective interaction design practice and research.

(3) Prototypes and installations, with regards to development of interactive systems as means for exploring the overarching research question; these prototypes and installations are in themselves manifestations of and challenges to hypotheses about the design and use of interactive environments.

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