Interfaces with the Ineffable
In recent years, Human Computer Interaction (HCI) designers and researchers have shifted focus from a primary concern with procedural, generic, and task based applications to applications that address messy, personal, and aesthetic experiences. These difficult to formalize experiences, such as feelings of intimacy, spirituality, or a sense of place, are conceptualized as experiences of the ineffable. In this work, I use a reflective design practice to look at two primary approaches to designing interfaces with the ineffable, one emphasizes reduction and the other openness to interpretation. I discuss issues of control and reification that result from the reduction approach and develop the interpretation approach as a viable alternative requiring a re-thinking design and evaluation strategies and criteria. These issues and approaches are explored in detail through the development of two case studies. Case study one addresses the ineffable experience of art and presents a series of applications for interfacing with the ineffable in the art museum. Case study two details the ineffable experience of affect and presents a system designed for augmenting affective presence in an office environment. To further this work, I examine new thinking in both HCI and Communication for understanding every day interpretive acts and the implications for design. In addition, I advance reflective design as a new process based practice for the field of Communication.
HCI; reflective design; communication; evaluation; ambiguity; interpretation; experience design
dissertation or thesis