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Books read in 2018

Nonfiction

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. Mary Douglas.
New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future. James Bridle.
Changing Things: The Future of Objects in a Digital World. Johan Redström and Heather Wiltse.
• Staying with the Trouble through Design: Critical-feminist Design of Intimate Technology. Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard.
Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Donna J. Haraway.
Design Things. Thomas Binder, Giorgio De Michelis, Pelle Ehn, Giulio Jacucci, Per Linde and Ina Wagner.
How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built. Stewart Brand.
On Trails: An Exploration. Robert Moor.
The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels. Jon Meacham.
The Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste. Rose George.
Designerly Ways of Knowing. Nigel Cross.
Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies. Jared Diamond.
Humanistic HCI. Jeffrey Bardzell and Shaowen Bardzell.
Crafting Experience: Designing Digital Musical Instruments for Long-Term Use in Artistic Practice. Ludvig Elblaus.
Making Design Theory. Johan Redström.
Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor. Virginia Eubanks.
Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists, and Cinema. David A. Kirby.
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams. Matthew Walker.
Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing. Harvey Molotch and Laura Noren.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Susan Cain.
Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions. Lucy Suchman.
Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy. Richard E. Ocejo.
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less. Richard Koch.
Machine Learners: Archaeology of a Data Practice. Adrian Mackenzie.
Weapons of Math Destruction. Cathy O’Neil.
Technology as Experience. John McCarthy and Peter Wright.
Making Preciousness: Interaction Design Through Studio Crafts. Vasiliki Tsaknaki.

Literary Nonfiction

French Children Don’t Throw Food. Pamela Druckerman.
The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia. Michael Booth.
Outline. Rachel Cusk.
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Bill Bryson.
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. Rolf Potts.
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. Christopher McDougall.
Tuesdays with Morrie. Mitch Albom.
Walden: Civil Disobedience. Henry David Thoreau.

Fiction

A Little Life. Hanya Yanagihara.
Cowboys Are My Weakness. Pam Houston.
Little Fires Everywhere. Celeste Ng.
Where the Crawdads Sing. Delia Owens.
The Summer Book. Tove Jansson.
Dubliners. James Joyce.
The Night Circus. Erin Morgenstern.
12 Short Stories: A Key to the Georgian Mentality. Archil Khantadze.
The Nightingale. Kristin Hannah.
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Gail Honeyman.
All the Light We Cannot See. Anthony Doerr.
Rules of Civility. Amor Towles.
Small Great Things. Jodi Picoult.

KTH 2018 PhD Supervisory Panel

Today was our department’s annual PhD Supervisory Panel at KTH during which PhD students are given the opportunity to get feedback from senior researchers who act as “guest supervisors.” To prepare for my meeting with two Associate Professors I reworked my research abstract and research questions following my 30% seminar in October, during which Johan Redström from Umeå Institute of Design acted as my discussant. My goals in today’s supervisory panel were to get feedback on the new scope of my abstract and research questions relative to being only about 40% through my PhD (and I’m sure will continue to evolve), and identify important areas that I need to work on articulating to more firmly position my research in the context of how I am conceptually “furnishing” my design space. Considering I was presenting to senior researchers from different academic backgrounds than my own and each other, it was especially helpful to see within which aspect I felt misunderstood, i.e. where I need to sharpen my arguments. Below my poster summarizing my research thus far, followed by a few notes/reflections based on feedback received today, and a textual version of my abstract and research questions.

Karey Helms 2018 PhD Interaction Design Research abstract at KTH

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UID Wednesday Lecture 2018 – Crafting Humorous Fictions & Taboo Frictions

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the day at Umeå Institute of Design (where I did my MFA in Interaction Design). In the morning I spent a couple hours with upcoming IxD master thesis students to discuss my experience, and in the afternoon gave a talk titled “Crafting Humorous Fictions & Taboo Frictions” as part of the design school’s Wednesday lecture serious. Was great to be back, even if only for a day! Below is the abstract of my talk.

Karey Helms giving a talk on humor in design at Umeå Institute of Design

Talk abstract

Karey Helms is a PhD Student at KTH Royal Institute of Technology researching smart implicit interactions, those that are unseen or unnoticed yet proactively operate on our behalf. Her research through design approach includes speculative and autobiographical methods in which she designs humorous fictions and taboo frictions with intimate and somatic data to surface the social and societal implications of data-driven systems. These include the designing of fictional devices that predict when and how badly one has to urinate, and the prototyping of a genuine system to spy on her partner.

In this talk, she traces back her playful approach to fiction and friction to her master’s thesis in Interaction Design at UID and how she employed this approach while working in industry delivering actualized services within enterprise IoT prior to beginning her PhD. The aim of this talk is to advocate for humor in design and to craft experiences that disrupt and disturb to not only provoke others to think, but also yourself as a designer.

Design Briefs – Spying on Loved Ones & Tangible Designs for Effort, Exertion, and Exhaustion

For this year’s Advanced Project Course in Interaction Design at KTH, I’m fortunate and excited to have two groups of second-year master’s students working with me on two project briefs – Spying on Loved Ones and Tangible Designs for Effort, Exertion, and Exhaustion during Outdoor Experiences. Excited to see their resulting design work in December!

Spying on Loved Ones

To spy on someone is commonly thought of as a negative or harmful act during which one person secretly observes or collects information on another for malicious purposes. Yet, we also “spy” for many positive reasons. For example, these might include watching a sleeping child through a baby monitor, checking a partner’s calendar to plan a surprise birthday party, or browsing the fridge of an elderly parent to ensure a healthy diet is being consumed. What these examples have in common is that they are acts of care. This projects investigates how we care for others through technology, both with technologies explicitly designed to survey or observe others and through technologies designed for other purposes yet leak implicit information that enables spying. Within this investigation, various forms of spying will be classified and critiqued, the social and cultural implications of these positive intentions with be explored, and speculative prototypes will be designed to either further enable or inhibit spying.

The project will follow the suggested steps: (1) a review and critique of technologies explicitly designed for spying in private and public spaces, (2) investigation into ways in which people spy on others through technologies not designed for spying, possibly through workshops, interviews, or cultural probes, (3) the design of speculative prototypes to either further enable or inhibit spying, resulting in an ecology of physical artifacts. Required skills include strong design sensibilities and an interest in critical design and design fiction.

This project builds upon Leaky Objects: Implicit Information, Unintentional Communication.

Tangible Designs for Effort, Exertion, and Exhaustion during Outdoor Experiences

Multi-day outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, cycling, and horseback riding involve full body engagement, during which bodies become sore and often endure physical transformations. Yet despite perceived discomfort and difficulties, outdoors experiences are often considered rewarding and relaxing. Thus, rather than designing to make these activities easier or more comfortable, this project investigates designing tangible artifacts and devices to celebrate or enhance these experiences of effort, exertion, and exhaustion. This project is part of a broader, ongoing outdoors project within the Smart Implicit Interaction project, and has the opportunity to build upon recent interviews with participants who have engaged in long-term outdoors experiences.

The outcome of the project is open-ended, but students are expected to engage in a design process to that result in novel artifacts that are either proposed objects of use (e.g. products) or result in interesting new learnings (e.g. cultural probes). Students should have a design background or be interested in following a design process.

NordiCHI 2018 – Presentation & Slides

Karey Helms presenting a paper on humor in design fiction at NordiCHI 2018

Early this week I presented a paper written with my PhD supervisor Ylva Fernaeus on the use of Humor in Design Fiction to Suspend Disbelief and Belief at NordiCHI 2018 in Oslo. This paper was part of the future scenarios track at NordiCHI, an excellent initiative and venue that explores the design of design fictions. Our paper contributed (1) a way in which humor might be used in design fiction (and design more broadly), (2) a design process that includes fieldwork to inform the design of design fictions, (3) and a human-scale design fiction as a method of communication and dissemination. For the presentation, I originally intended to role-play the paper presentation as a character from the fictional world, as I did when presenting the same project four years ago in Umeå as my master’s thesis, but last minute opted to not because of the opening introductions by moderators. Instead, I opened the presentation by jumping into the fiction with no context, and then gradually introduced more information and built reflections throughout the remaining of the presentation. I think this structure worked very well. The full paper is available here and the presentation below.

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