Research seminar with John McCarthy: The Politics and Aesthetics of Participation in HCI

Välkomna till högre seminarium i medieteknik onsdagen den 6/12 kl 13 – 15 i ME522 då vi gästas av John McCarthy som kommer att tala om The Politics and Aesthetics of Participation in HCI”.
Det kommer att finnas både nyttig och onyttig fika.

Research seminar with John McCarthy

6th December 1 pm ME522

In this talk, John will develop a critical discourse on participation in HCI. In one form or another, participation is deep in the DNA or culture of HCI, from the very earliest pragmatic commitments to have computer users involved (even indirectly) in the design of the systems that they would be expected to use to the more overtly political commitments of approaches such as Participatory Design. Moreover, participation is considered to be a ‘good thing’ in many areas of life e.g. international development, local politics, social media, digital civics, and art. It suggests equality, engagement, and democracy. In some of these areas, the claim that a project is participatory carries with it a political promise to be inclusive, to ensure that all voices are heard and responded to. But participatory projects – in development, regeneration, political decision making, and art – can be tokenistic in fulfilling obligations while ignoring participants’ real concerns. This presentation refers to a number of participatory HCI projects to explore how participation is currently positioned in HCI practice and theory, specifically how they address participants’ real concerns. Along the way some underlying assumptions about participation will be questioned: whether participation is an unqualified good; how participants are positioned in participatory projects; how participation is negotiated; the implications of different logics of participation for innovation and creativity. This questioning will encourage a slightly unconventional take on participation that emphasises the politics and aesthetics of engagement better to understand relationships between researchers, designers, and users (participants?).


John McCarthy is Professor of Applied Psychology at University College Cork, Ireland, where he leads the People and Technology Group (PAT). PAT is a collection of human-computer interaction (HCI) researchers engaged in experience-centred and participatory design of digital technology to understand and enhance people’s lived experience and to ensure their voices are heard in developments that matter to them.

John has over 20 years experience working in HCI research with about 100 publications including three books with Peter Wright on theoretical and methodological foundations of experience-centred HCI Design. The most recent – Taking [A]part: The Politics and Aesthetics of Participation in Experience-Centered Design (MIT Press) – reflects on some design projects that they were involved in, to think about the politics and aesthetics of taking part in HCI design projects. His current research projects are concerned with further developing understanding and practice of participation in HCI. These projects focus on:

  1. The potential to develop dementia friendly research communities to do experienced centred design of technologies and services with people with dementia and their carers in order to understand and enhance their experience and wellbeing;
  2. The emergence of digital communities and publics as expression of civic engagement in e.g. information, support and advocacy around dementia care and sustainable energy.