Interaction Design – The experience of random encounters with personal digital photos

Many people today have access to vast libraries of personal digital content which they consume often to meet non-instrumental needs. But designing technologies to support such interactions and needs whilst optimizing for user-experience (UX) can be problematic. Having too much to choose from may be unpleasant especially in the absence of strong preferences. Yet studies of people’s experiences with digital music listening have revealed that a shuffle-based approach – whereby people can abdicate choice to a random process not only mitigates the unpleasantness of choosing but also supports their non-instrumental needs while fostering engaging and even rich experiences such as serendipity.

PRESENTER: Tuck Leong
TITLE: The experience of random encounters with personal digital photos
VENUE: University of Melbourne, IDEA LAB, level 4, 111 Barry Street, Carlton
DATE and TIME: Friday 2nd May 2008, 3-4 pm

ABSTRACT:
Many people today have access to vast libraries of personal digital content which they consume often to meet non-instrumental needs. But designing technologies to support such interactions and needs whilst optimizing for user-experience (UX) can be problematic. Having too much to choose from may be unpleasant especially in the absence of strong preferences. Yet studies of people’s experiences with digital music listening have revealed that a shuffle-based approach – whereby people can abdicate choice to a random process not only mitigates the unpleasantness of choosing but also supports their non-instrumental needs while fostering engaging and even rich experiences such as serendipity.

It appears that shuffle is a good example of an approach suited to support interactions whereby users’ goals are fuzzy and further goal definition would require too much effort whilst being supportive of user-experiences.

To explore randomness’ utility beyond that of supporting digital music listening experiences, I built a photo display system, deployed it in three households, and examined people’s experiences when interacting with digital photos in a random manner. A dice input ‘device’ was given to the participants to heighten their awareness of randomness and to understand their sense-making process when interacting with randomness.

Some findings arising from the study include:
(i) What kinds of experiences do people encounter?
(ii) To what extent does such a system support people’s non-instrumental needs?
(iii) Are these experiences desirable? If so, what elements are involved and to what extent are they particular to this media type?
(iv) How do these experiences compare to that of shuffle listening?

BIO:
Tuck Leong is currently working on a PhD supervised by Steve Howard and Frank Vetere.

For more information visit http://www.dis.unimelb.edu.au/research/groups/interactiondesign/seminars.html.