Explore the Future of the Web

Getting Back to Things: Exploring Modes of Interaction

Thomas Wendt

Historically, ‘ideas’ have been valued over ‘things.’ The work of the creative genius, the philosopher, and the ‘idea person’ tend to be the most exciting, as they supposedly operate outside the boundaries of physical space, relieved of the constraints experienced by the designer-craftsperson. Recently, however, there has been a resurgence of interest in the world of things. From philosophy (post-phenomenology, actor-network theory, object-oriented ontology, etc.) to design theory and practice (speculative and critical design, the Internet of Things, etc.), we can see a movement back toward critical analysis of the objects that result from our ideas. There is now interest in the mundane, everyday world of things.

This workshop is about exploring this movement back to things, beginning with the various modes of interaction we have with them. Things in our environment are not simply objects that we act upon: they actively shape our experience of everyday life. The workshop will look at how this active shaping works. Participants will learn about contemporary interaction modes, influenced by design theory, philosophy of technology, and post-phenomenology. They will analyze the current state of everyday interaction and push themselves to imagine future scenarios. The end result will be a map of the current state of things (quite literally) and possibilities for future design.

Thomas' workshop will cover:

  • Contemporary interaction theory as it relates to design practice
  • Perspective on the role of objects in everyday life
  • Techniques for analyzing current systems and speculating on future possibilities
  • Various models for how humans interact with everyday objects and how this insight can inform design decisions


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