Technology & Relationships:
Intimate Objects in
S&TS & I/S

Joseph 'Jofish' Kaye

Cornell Science & Technology Studies
Science Studies Reading Group
18 October 2004

Outline

Definitions
Intimate Objects in I/S
Intimate Objects in S&TS
Discussion

Devices, Things & Machines

Interchangable terms for the products of technical practice. These can include electronic and non-electronic physical objects, computers, software, and websites.

Critical Technical Practice

Agre's theory of using understanding from outside a technical field to uncover the key assumptions of that field, and then changing those key assumptions to go beyond current technological impasses.


Philip E. Agre. Computation and Human Experience. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1997.

Technical Critical Practice

Using technical practice as a way to explore critical questions and theories in a critical field.

In short, building things, as well as writing about them.

Reflective Design

A design practice that advocates building devices that encourage the designer, the user and others who come in contact with the device to question their assumptions about the device, what the device does, and the social context around the device, and ask similar questions about related devices.

Wodiczko's Shopping Cart
Sengers' Influencing Machine
Jeremijenko's Feral Robotic Dogs

Intimate Objects

Technological devices for couples in long distance relationships to communicate intimacy at a distance.

(Production Definition)

Intimate Objects

Technological devices for that encourage communication of intimacy.

(Analytical Definition)

But wait...

What's all this about production and analytical definitions? If you're doing reflective design and critical technical practice (and, indeed, technical critical), then you're claiming you're doing both at once.

Intimate Objects

(in I/S (Information Science)

and

HCI (Human Computer Interation))

Current HCI Themes my work addresses

- Design for individual experience in a world and discipline founded in mass media
- Movement of technology and HCI out of the workplace and into people's lives
- A shift from task-centered to experience-centered uses of computing
- How can we understand the role of the user in technology?
- What is the difference between physical and virtual?

HCI Questions I'm asking

- How can we design for actual real living people in all their complexity?
- What happens when we design for one or two specific people, not "the user"?
- What happens when computers stop having screens and keyboards and sitting on desks?

More Questions I'm asking

- What methodologies are appropriate for attacking such a situation? What else might they be appropriate for?
- How can this situation teach us to design technologies to solve other problems?
- What insights can this problem shed on uses of technology in general?

Methodologies

- Initial in-depth interviews with 4 couples in LDRs (long distance relationships)
- Couples sketch design concepts
- Extract core concepts; sketch proposals
- Build implementations
- Diaries, automatically log usage
- Cultural Probes
- Using others' cultural probes

Kaye, Joseph 'Jofish' and Liz Goulding. Intimate Objects. Proceedings of Designing Interactive Systems 2004, 341-344, ACM Press, Cambridge MA.

Couples' sketches

Building devices as sketches

Behaviour:
Couples typically talk at length once a day. The initial part of this conversation is generally "What I Did Today".

Technology:

Current project: MinIO & VIO

(Minimal Intimate Object & Virtual [minimal] Intimate Object)

- Examples
- Team of 2 grads, 3 ugrads
- Initial interviews with sample couples
- 24 subjects (12 couples, 6 each case)
- 2 weeks of use
- Diary for guided reflection, feedback
- Server logs for ontime and usage
- How much does the physical matter?

Intimate Objects

(in S&TS)

William G. Broughton

  • Born 1902
  • Radio Ham, 1915-197x
  • District Sales Manager for General Electric in Schenectady NY
  • B.S. Electrical Engineering, Cornell '24
  • Unmarried
  • Donated his archive (~100 linear ft.) to Cornell in 1964.
  • Henry P. Broughton

  • Born 1865
  • Radio Ham, 189x-1959
  • B.S. Electrical & Mechanical Engineering, Cornell '90
  • Married to Jane Tinkham Broughton
  • Father of William P. Broughton
  • Logbooks

  • Format standardized in 1920s by AARL (American Amateur Relay League)
  • Contains details of all ham contacts
  • Part of ham regulations (FCC, etc)
  • Part of ham identity
  • Broughton Archive: Box 21. 60+ logbooks, 1915-1964, consecutively numbered.
  • DATE

    TIME

    STATION

    CALLED

    CALLED

    BY

    HIS

    FREQ

    OR

    DIAL

    HIS

    SIGNALS

    RST

    MY SIGNALS RCT

    FREQ.

    MC.

    EMIS-

    SION

    TYPE

    POWER

    INPUT

    WATTS

    TIME OF ENDING

    QSO

    OTHER DATA

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    200

     

     

     

     

     

    3950

     

    213

    ND

     

    210

    2WNIV

    x

     

     

     

     

     

    240

    Lambert

    W2URP

    x

    net

    cont

     

     

     

     

    Chuck

    K2HON

    x

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Twinkle Toes!

    K2UKA

    x

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Phil

    K2EKS

    x

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Chuck (little item from W2NIV)

    215

    W2JJE

    x

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Don Jack K4PEA/2 visitor

    220

    W2GTB

    x

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Warren

    225

    WA2DYS

    x

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Geo old time ship op. 1924

    227

    K22KI

    x

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Art

    Logbook entries: weather

    [several skipped]
    A 700 JUN 14 1960 61 29.82?clear;calm
    A 700 JUN 18 1960 66 29.78? cldy; calm; wet
    1200 66 29.83? Sunny; lt breeze
    P 200 69 29.84?cavu [clear air, visibility unlimited]; windy; dry

    Logbook entries: purchases

    P 7:00 New Adjustable Remington Roll-a-Matic Electric Shaver, Serial No. 164326

    One Story In a Logbook

    Dramatis Personae
    W2IR: William G. Broughton, a Radio Ham

    K2AE: Henry P. Broughton, his father

    April 1959. Schenectady, NY.

    7 April: Admitted to hospital

    P 9:30 K2AE APR-7 Admitted to Ellis Hospital D4SP,per orders Dr. Wm. V. Bartlett*
    1120 George A. Gillwater 1414 Union St. -- Inspected Shack, etc.
    P 8:30*Examined K2AE in Shack

    14 April: Surgery

    Dr. Gilbert + Dr. Barlett report to me K2AE did fb** during
    A 500APR 14 1959 32 29.27? CAVU* ; calm.
    530K2AEW2IRThe Mighty Purple Pajama No. 3 scheduled for surgery 7:45A.
    100
    4-hour major surgery. He will remain in Recovery Room for several hours before returning to his room B544.
    *: CAVU: clear and visibility unlimited
    **: fb = "fine business"

    23 May: Breakfast at the table

    A 800 K2AE May 23 1959 First post-op bkfast at his usual place at kitchen table

    24 May: Back on the air!

    <
    P 200May 24 1959Schenectady County Emergency Net, weekly drill
    K2VCZ3950 Dick 52 30,03 ? Cloudy
    W2URPChuck, Nat Control
    217W2FWJack [several lines skipped]
    200K2AE on the air for first time post-op! Says "more fun than a barrel of monkeys"

    25 May: New Wheelchair

    P 400May 25 1959New 1959 Gendron Wheel Chair with adjustable leg rests;- so K2AE can more easily keep his skeds!

    26 May, 11am : Chayne-Stokes respiration

    A 1100 K2AE MAY 26 1959 Cheyne-Stokes respiration 12-second apnea. Sleeping.

    1200 W2IR suggested to Dr. Bartlett a medical consultation on K2AE.

    26 May, 3pm : Nurse administers aminophylline

    P 300- 1100 Mrs. Bernice Greene - 508 Charles St. Scotia Ri-6-1424
    Aminophylline Suppository 0.5gms elmininated Cheyne-Stokes within 1hr!

    26 May, 8:30pm : K2AE becomes a Silent Key

    830 Harry E. Reynolds MD. 1346 Union St, Schenectday N.Y.
    " William V Bartlett MD. 1346 Union St, Schenectadt N.Y.
    820 K2AE became Silent Key during diagnostic examination by Drs. Reynolds & Bartlett

    26 May, 10:45pm: K2AE assigned to SARA in perpetuity

    K2HON W2IR (land line) As requested by W2IR, K2HON cleared with SARA officials the acceptance by SARA of:
    1. The call K2AE as the new permanent call for SARA
    2. SARA K2AE Harry Primm Broughton Memorial The request is being made by W2IR that, instead of flowers, remembrances be sent to this new K2AE Memorial. [...]
    I feel sure that these arrangements are as father would wish it

    Intimate Objects & Ham Radio


    Easy: Ham radio is a technology that can be used to communicate intimacy

    Harder: Ham radio is a technology that can facilitate intimacy occuring

    Yet: Arguably ham radio just conveniently (for us) provided a way for Broughton to log intimate interactions

    Intimate Objects & Ham Radio


    If we're designing technologies as sites for intimacy to occur, then there's inspiration to be drawn from the richness and collaboration that ham radio affords. There's a rich ambiguity in the ways that the technology can be experienced.

    Ambiguity as a resource for design, William W. Gaver, Jake Beaver, and Steve Benford. Proceedings of CHI 2003.

    IS and S&TS for Intimate Objects

    Both disciplines have tools to talk about aspects of the work, e.g.:

    S&TS: the redefinition of 'intimate object' from a production to an analytical term; archival analysis

    Infosci: implementation techniques; ambiguity as a resource

    Intimate Objects for IS and S&TS together

    Intimate Objects can contribute to questions in both disciplines:

    How can we understand the role of the user in technology?
    What is the importance of the physical nature of instruments?
    What values are or can be embodied in technology?