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Exploring meaning and values in artefacts: A case example of the family car
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media, Human-Computer Interaction.
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

In this paper we describe interactions between families and their artefacts in the car using data from ethnographic work with eight families. We see how artefacts - through the interactions and practices around them and affected by family values - develop meaning over time. Outgoing from that artefacts are embedded in the socially dense environment of the car, we scrutinize the relationship between users and artefacts and the environment they are interacting in. Drawing on concepts from the field of material culture we show that the relationship between user and artefact is constituted through individual values and dispositions as they are reflected in everyday interactions with materiality. We observe that artefact interactions are closely tied with changing family dynamics, issues around technology appropriation and prevailing values and parenting practices. Our analysis points to the deliberation of the role of critical, value-based design for the design for families. 

Keyword [en]
Car, family, meaning, materiality
National Category
Human Aspects of ICT
Research subject
Human-Computer Interaction
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301106OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-301106DiVA: diva2:953552
Note

Manuscript submitted for publication

Available from: 2016-08-18 Created: 2016-08-18 Last updated: 2016-08-26
In thesis
1. Technology Encounters: Exploring the essence of ordinary computing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Technology Encounters: Exploring the essence of ordinary computing
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

As computing technology has become a vital part of everyday life, studies have increasingly scrutinized the underlying meaning of computational things. As different devices become interwoven with daily practices and routines, there is a growing interest in understanding not only their functional meaning in computational terms but also their meaning in relation to other non-computation artefacts.

This thesis investigates how people relate to artefacts and how their individual values and attitudes affect this relationship.  The analysis is based on four ethnographic studies, which look at the richness of ordinary interactions with technology to understand the impact of technology upon practice and experience.

The process through which humans develop a relationship to artefacts is framed as a continuous series of encounters, through which the individual constantly reshapes their relationship to things.  Artefacts are seen as lines in the mesh of everyday life, and the encounters are the intersections between lines. This approach–grounded in phenomenology and paired with an anthropological understanding of everyday life–reconceptualises understanding of the processes of adaption, meaning-making, disposing and recycling. The work reveals how human relations to all kinds of things–in the form of meaning–is continually transforming. Core to this understanding is the cultural relative essence that becomes perceived of the artefacts themselves. This essence deeply affects the way we encounter and thus interact with technology, as well as objects more broadly. In the daily interaction with computing devices we can observe that computing technology alters the mesh on a different level than non-computational artefacts: digital interfaces pull our lines together, bundle experiences an affect how we encounter the material and the social world. This enables computing devices to have meanings distinct from non-computing technology. To go further, computing is itself a mode of existence – a crucial difference in things that helps us understand the complexity of the material world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Informatics and Media, 2016. 93 p.
Series
Uppsala Studies in Human-Computer Interaction, 4
Keyword
Everyday life, ICT, phenomenology, ethnography, cultural analysis
National Category
Human Aspects of ICT
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-301158 (URN)978-91-506-2589-9 (ISBN)
External cooperation:
Public defence
2016-10-04, Hörsal 3, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-09-13 Created: 2016-08-18 Last updated: 2016-09-13

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