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The Materiality of InteractionNotes on the Materials of Interaction Design$
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Mikael Wiberg

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780262037518

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262037518.001.0001

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Material-Centered Interaction Design

Material-Centered Interaction Design

Toward a New Method and Foundation for Interaction Design

(p.61) 4 Material-Centered Interaction Design
The Materiality of Interaction

Mikael Wiberg

The MIT Press

The growing interest in the materiality of interaction in the field of HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) indicates that there is a value in acknowledging the material aspects and dimensions of interaction design. However, and if only relying on a representation-driven approach to interaction design the notion of materiality only works, at best, as a “metaphorical maneuver, while still pushing for an interaction design paradigm oriented towards the immaterial aspects of interaction design (for instance the use of symbols and metaphors in interaction design). So what would an alternative perspective and approach be? In short, can we not only shift perspectives here, but also imagine different approaches and methods to interaction design that truly accepts the digital as a design material, that focuses on interaction as the form being designed, and an approach that do not introduces any categorical distinctions between different matters. In this book I have suggested that we should make no metaphysical or ontological distinction between physical and digital materials, between atoms, bits, and cells, between “visible” or “invisible” materials, and even avoid distinctions between what might be considered as “material” or “immaterial” in the first place (like radio waves). In the same way as wood or iron are typical examples of physical materials I consider code, algorithms, sensors and processors as digital materials. Still, from the viewpoint of interaction design it is the composition and activation of these different materials as to give the interaction a particular form that is essential – not each materials ontological or metaphysical status. So, instead of focusing on what a particular interactive system represents, the material-centered approach to interaction design as proposed in this book focuses on how interaction is presented and accordingly materially manifested in the world (in all imaginable forms – from completely embedded and “invisible” interactive systems to the gadgets, pads, and tabs we surround ourselves with in our everyday lives). In this chapter I take this as a point of departure for the development of an approach to interaction design that I label material-centered interaction design.

Keywords:   Material computing, materials, material-centered interaction design

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