Here is a rather unstructured lists of interests I do have. Many of them are reflected in blogposts I have written here.
Methods, plans and instructions
I am interested in how people use media in everyday situations. There are two specific topics I follow here: Learning new skills by using instructions and the use of “design methods”.
Learning new instructions can be a fraught topic: Many people emphasize that what they do or teach is “not just following a recipe”. Research on scientific replication and technology use has show that merly executing a pre-set plan is not what people do anyway: Their actions are situated. So, following a pre-set series of actions is seen both as problematic and as nothing that people can do. Obviously, people still use instructions. But what do they do with them, particularly in situations in which they do not have the developed skills to merely use an instruction as suggestion because they try to learn these skills in the first place?
Design methods are interesting for me since I work in IT, and both User Experience designers as well as the developer teams they work with seem to love methods. However, no project ever happens according to the method it is said to follow. Reality is really messy. Still, people refer to methods a lot, they say that they do some phase from the method, plan to have a method prescribed event etc. Design methods are also normative: Its a sign of “good work” if it follows the method and being able to prescribe a method also means having power.
What both instructions for learning and design methods have in common is that they are immutable modules used as resources in concrete actitivities that people do.
Communities, Participation and Design
I participate in online communities, open source software projects and used to co-run a hackspace. I am particularly interested in the following challenge: Communities are not just people, they also have infrastructure: Software, rooms, tools etc. Community members decide how to adapt and change infrastructure. Particularly with online projects, however, there is one challenge: People who stay with the project for a long time will have more implicit power to change the infrastructure towards their current concerns. But their concerns are far removed from the concerns of newcomers. This creates a wicked problem: Giving power to the community is good, but might lead to infrastructure and practices that are bad for people with the least power.
Human centered design by experts does not have this particular problem, as it operates by collecting input and suggesting a solution in a quasi-bureaucratic model (experts, abstractions, accountability) but disempowers the existing community in favor for expert’s knowledge and methods.
- The focus of academic disciplines on things that can be written about 23, 20, 15
- The role of abstraction in thinking and its relation to language and writing 11, 15, 12, 26
- …and, conversely, apprenticeship, jigs, notes, metaphors and stigmergy as ways to teach or guide 8, 16, 17, 18
- Education methods and frameworks that help me teaching, like apprenticeship learning, cognitive load theory, case studies, realistic examples (or not)…
- Self-fulfilling prophecies and their motivating and structuring of activities 1, 2
- Futures people work towards and what it means if there is no mid-term future you can work towards, but only a distant prophecy 3, 2, 24
- Appropriation of technology and “appropriate technology” 5,6,7
- Local, domenstic and DIY media production: Zines, freeware, itch.io, notices etc.
- How people are constructed as irrational (and in need of “rational” guidance; e.g. in discussion of “cognitive biases”)
- Mental impairments, their politics and the liveworlds of people labled as mentally impaired. 21, 22
- What is being said to be “child-like” in terms of behavior (usually as “other” to “adult-like”); which media, and objects get to be seen as particularly “good” for children (For example “simple” geometic forms and bright colors) 27
- Sign languages and Deaf culture 14
- Education, creativity, personality and how it is organized in institutions and if it should be 9, 10, 13, 20
- How design is usually bound to expertise and scale 19, 20
- Tech culture, its relation to cybernetics and early artificial intelligence, its use in politics, its promises of both emancipation and the provision of structure, my own participation in it (open source design, Wikipedia) 4, 7, 20
- Programming, design patterns, software architecture and lightweight collaboration practices (aka not Scrum)
- Statistics and common (mis)interpretations of its results
Paradigms and Disciplines
- Situated Learning
- Participatory Action Research
- Process Philosophy
- Studies of Technology and Science
In design work
- Human Centered Design
- Participatory Design
- Design Justice
- Appropriate Technology
- Open Source
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