This paper seeks for the notion of value for the new wave of HCI research. This question is built on the understanding of the three waves of HCI (first wave: information processing; second wave: focus shifted “to particular work settings, to well-defined communities of practice…”; third wave: incorporate more cultural analysis, critical theory, philosophy, etc.) Having summarized what was considered “good” in the first two waves, the author points to the need for a “new good” for the current HCI research. And to answer this question, two philosophies of technology are introduced. Borgmann’s theory of the device paradigm differentiates ‘thing’ and ‘device’ – whether it is an “isolated entity” or it “exists as a material center in a complicated network of human relationships and relationships to its natural and cultural setting”. Ihde believes technology is not neutral – it gets into our life, adds to our understanding of the world, and create a sense of ‘alterity’ – “a relationship between a human being and some otherness”. These two theories lead to the philosophical thinking of HCI: 1) technology is not neutral, e.g. what is useful might not be good; 2) the role of values and ethics in HCI should be considered; and so on.
Three waves of HCI
- First wave: information processing;
- Second wave: “to move the center of attention away from the first wave’s rather disembodied emphasis on a single user operating a single application; the focus was shifted to particular work settings, to well-defined communities of practice such as teams collaborating using a variety of applications, and to issues of context.”
- Third wave: “to relate and integrate technology design and incorporate more cultural analysis, critical theory, philosophy, values, and history than either sociological or psychological theories”
“HCI will not become a true discipline until it develops, expresses, discusses, agrees and integrates a set of core values”
From the two philosophies
“a focal thing is not an isolated entity; it exists as a material center in a complicated network of human relationships and relationships to its natural and cultural setting”
“a device tends to split means and ends, whereas a thing tends to connect its means and ends.”
“modern technology tends to operate to deconstruct things and reconstitute them into devices, and that this transformation is accelerating with recent advances in information technology.”
“technological information does not provide access to reality but rather replaces reality.”
Shall we dip down to philosophical thinking in every effort in HCI research (even for a multi-touch gesture design or an ethnographic study)?
If we cannot reach the answer of a commonly recognized value system for HCI, then what is the benefit of seeking for it?
“HCI will not become a true discipline until it develops, expresses, discusses, agrees and integrates a set of core values” – agree or disagree? why?