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Design fiction: how to build a Voight Kampff machine

Sturdee, M, Coulton, P, Lindley, J, Stead, M, Ali, H & Hudson-Smith, A 2016, Design fiction: how to build a Voight Kampff machine. in CHI EA ’16 Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, New York, pp. 375-386, CHI 2016, San Jose, United States, 7-12 May. DOI: 10.1145/2851581.2892574

This paper presents a portfolio approach to Research through Design in HCI by recounting the research process for the Voight Kampff Machine project and Empathy SDK. The project uses 3D models, Kickstarter style videos, and comics to construct the diegetic world for the Design Fiction.

Useful Quotes

“In many respects these worlds create what Huizinga described as a ‘magic circle’, “a place dedicated for the performance of an act apart”, and in design fiction the magic circle is a fictional world within which speculative prototypes, and their users, can plausibly exist.” (p376)

“design fiction opens up a discursive space between the researcher and prospective users to consider emergent interaction design” (p376)

“If we consider dictionary meanings of plausible, it is synonymous with ‘something that is not obviously untrue’. However, design fictions are untruths by their very nature so a successful design fiction should strive to be ‘not obviously untrue’ notwithstanding the fact that at its heart is intentionally, and fundamentally, untrue. This contradiction creates tension, a tension stemming from any design fiction’s intention to showcase unreal worlds in a manner that strives to appear real.” (p383)

“We intentionally do not present, what might be considered by many HCI researchers, as ‘tangible results’ for any of these artifacts as we are primarily interested in the research through design (RtD) process in their creation. As such they highlight that design fictions are often nested with different levels of narrative to produce a ‘russian doll rhetoric’ that can be used to evoke particular discourses.” (p383)

Further Reading

Coulton, P. Huck, J. Hudson-Smith, A. Barthel, B. Mavros, P. Roberts, J. and Powell, P. Designing interactive systems to encourage empathy between users. In DIS Companion ‘14 Proceedings of the 2014 companion publication on Designing interactive systems. New York: ACM. (2014), p. 13-16. Available from: 10.1145/2598784.2602770

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