Interaction design is the definition of digital behavior, from desktop software and mobile applications to components of appliances, automobiles, and even biomedical devices. Where architects plan buildings, graphic designers make visual compositions, and industrial designers give form to three-dimensional objects, interaction designers define the digital components of products and services. These include websites, mobile applications, desktop software, automobiles, consumer electronics, and more. Interaction design is a relatively new but fast-growing discipline, emerging with the explosive growth of the World Wide Web. In a software-saturated world, every day, multiple times a day, billions of people encounter the work products of interaction design.
Given the reach of their profession, how interaction designers work is of paramount concern. In considering interaction design, this dissertation turns away from a longstanding question of design studies: How does interaction design demonstrate a special form of human thought? And towards a set of questions drawn from practice-oriented studies of science and technology: What kinds of objects and subjects do interaction design practices make, and how do those practices produce them?
Based on participant observation at three San Francisco interaction design consultancies and interviews with designers in California’s Bay Area, this dissertation argues that performance practices organize interaction design work. By “performance practices,” I mean episodes of storytelling and narrative that take place before an audience of witnesses. These performances instantiate — make visible and tangibly felt — the human and machine behaviors that the static deliverables seem unable on their own to materialize. In doing so, performances of the project help produce and sustain alignment within teams and among designers, clients, and developers.
In this way, a focus on episodes of performance turns our concerns from cognition, in which artifacts assist design thinking, to one of enactment, in which documents, spaces, tools, and bodies actively participating in producing the identities, responsibilities, and capacities of project constituents. It turns our attention to questions of political representation, materiality and politics. From this perspective, it is not necessarily how designers think but how they stage and orchestrate performances of the project that makes accountable, authoritative decision-making on behalf of clients and prospective users possible.
I use in-depth research to describe the design of new interactions and technologies, not only in theory but in practice. By gaining a better empirical understanding of design teams and design stakeholders, we can help educators work with students, tool makers improve design tools, and professionals extend their own practices of creation and communication.
I’m giving a guest lecture at Expressive Motion in Art and Design, a graduate class in UC Berkeley’s Architecture dept.
Featured image excerpted from Louis Kahn’s map of traffic flow in Philadelphia. From Alison Smithson (ed.), Team 10 Primer (The MIT Press: Cambridge, 1968), p. 53.
DiSalvo, C., Light, A., Hirsch, T., Le Dantec, C.A., Goodman, E. and Hill, K. 2010. HCI, communities and politics. In Proc CHI EA ’10: 3151-3154.
Goodman, E. 2009. Three Environmental Discourses in HCI. In Proc. CHI EA ’09: 2535-2544.
Goodman, E. and Churchill, E. 2007. After the Match: Mobility and First Dates. In Proc. DUX ’07. Article 23.
Chang, M. and Goodman, E. 2006. Asphalt Games: Enacting Place Through Locative Media. Leonardo Electronic Arts Almanac: Locative Media, MIT Press.
This paper describes the results of a three month study of physical fitness in the United States. Using a literature review, blog readings, interviews, and diary studies, the authors identify key challenges and opportunities for technology to support fitness behaviors. Results focus on implications for the design and implementation of personal health visualization software.
Goodman, E., Foucault, B. 2006. Seeing fit: visualizing physical activity in context. In CHI’06 EA: 797-802.
Chang, M. and Goodman, E. 2004. FIASCO: Game interface for location-based play. In Proc. DIS EA ’04: 329–332
About the project
As humans we come to understand the places around us using a myriad of observable cues, such as public-private, large-small, daytime-nighttime, loud-quiet, and crowded-empty. Unsurprisingly, it is the people with which we share such spaces that often dominate our perception of place. Sometimes these people are friends, family and colleagues. More often, and particularly in urban public spaces, the individuals who affect us are ones that we repeatedly observe and yet do not directly interact with – our Familiar Strangers.
This research project explored the often ignored yet very meaningful relationships with Familiar Strangers. Several experiments and studies led to a design for a personal, body-worn, wireless device that extends the Familiar Stranger relationship while respecting the delicate, yet important, constraints of our feelings and relationships with strangers in public places. Sponsored by Intel Research from 2003–4, with Eric Paulos.