Reading Group August 24 2011
from 12:30 PM to 01:30 PM
Interaction Criticism: An Introduction to the Practice
(Pre‐publication draft to be published in Interacting With Computers)
Though interaction designers critique interfaces as a regular part of their research and practice, the field of HCI lacks a proper discipline of interaction criticism. By interaction criticism I mean rigorous interpretive interrogations of the complex relationships between (a) the interface, including its material and perceptual qualities as well as its broader situatedness in visual languages and culture; and (b) the user experience, including the meanings, behaviors, perceptions, affects, insights, and social sensibilities that arise in the context of interaction and its outcomes. Interaction criticism is a knowledge practice that enables design practitioners to engage with the aesthetics of interaction, helping practitioners cultivate more sensitive and insightful critical reactions to designs and exemplars. Benefits of such an engagement can include informing a particular design process, critiquing and innovating on design processes and methods more generally, developing original theory beneficial to interaction design, and exposing more robustly the long‐term and even unintended consequences of designs. In this article I offer a synthesis of practices of criticism derived from analytic philosophy of aesthetics and critical theory, including the introduction of five core claims from this literature; I outline four perspectives that constitute a big‐picture view of interaction criticism; and I offer a case study, demonstrating interaction criticism through each of these four perspectives.