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Interaction Design and Imaginaries: Beyond Behavior Change

Dan Lockton
Assistant Professor & Chair of Design Studies, Carnegie Mellon University School of Design


Newell-Simon Hall 1305 (Michael Mauldin Auditorium)

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How we think about the world affects what we do. The imaginaries we have—the stories we tell ourselves and each other, the mental models, language, framings and metaphors we use, the associations and mental imagery that come to mind when we think about concepts—make a difference to the way we approach the issues that affect us, from interacting with technology in everyday life right up to global challenges such as climate change and the rise of extreme populism. "How do we understand?" is becoming increasingly important as we become enmeshed in complex systems of nature, technology and society, from ecosystems to AI to big data to our own health. Interaction design working on behavior change, from persuasive technology to 'nudge', has largely ignored this dimension, and yet it potentially offers a much deeper and richer understanding of the human condition within the socio-technical ecologies of our lives. 

Design research—techniques and methods developed by designers for use in developing new products and services—can offer new perspectives on exploring these imaginaries and their consequences for human behavior, complementing social and cognitive sciences with an experiential layer. Design can also help us go beyond characterizing what we have already, and actively develop and propose new ways to understand, and new ways to live, supporting people’s imagining and helping them conceive of new perspectives for behavior and practices in the the future. In this talk, I'll explore these areas through practical examples drawing on work, with colleagues, in Europe and the US.

Speaker's Bio

Dan Lockton is assistant professor in the School of Design at Carnegie Mellon, where he leads the Imaginaries Lab and is Chair of Design Studies. His research centers on people's interactions with technology, and how that affects the way we think and act. The Imaginaries Lab uses design methods to support people's imagining—both new ways to understand, and new ways to live, now and in the future. Current areas of research include generating new metaphors for understanding concepts, sonification of energy use, and exploration of more qualitative forms of interface design. Dan is creator of the Design with Intent toolkit, a design pattern collection for social and environmental behavior change, and an editor of Living Labs (Springer, 2016). He regularly publishes in design and HCI, and runs workshops at industry events. Before CMU, Dan was a researcher and tutor at the Royal College of Art, London, in the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the Innovation Design Engineering program. He has a PhD in Design from Brunel University, London, and an MPhil in Technology Policy from the University of Cambridge, and is a Faculty Affiliate of the CMU Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, a visiting tutor at the Royal College of Art, London, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Brad Myers