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Critical Interface Analysis

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in or organisation of workshop, seminar or course

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Christian Ulrik Andersen - Organizer

Søren Bro Pold - Organizer

Winnie Soon - Organizer

Pablo Rodrigo Velasco González - Organizer

CRITICAL INTERFACE ANALYSIS is relevant because computer interfaces not only manifest dreams of automation, smoothness and accessibility; they often also shatter the dreams of others, such as, for instance, the precarious workers of the sharing economy or the victims of algorithmic biases. The interface takes part in an exercise of power and control – even to the point where we are willing to accept human casualties at the assembly lines in Shenzhen or in the mines in Congo, where our interfaces also originate. In other words, critical interface analysis seeks to elucidate how cultural 2relations of power and control are entangled in technological infrastructures. As an analytical practice it relates to other studies of interfaces, such as those found in HCI that focus on how to build new tools, experiences of usability or immersions by way of analysing affordances, user patterns, labor practices, and more. However, the aim of critical interface analysis is to point at the broader cultural, political, and ideological issues that these user experiences relate to – including globalization, platform capitalism, potential in/exclusions of users (relating to identity and race politics), the use of material/environmental resources, labor conditions, class struggles, and more. The broader aim of critical interface analysis is therefore to reflect on the imperative logic of the tools, apps and services that we use in our everyday lives or at the workplace, in order to elucidate the corporate, colonial, political, ideological, material, cultural or other interests that drive the assimilation of the user into the interface. In this sense, critical interface analysis is interested in the apparatus (rather than the tool), 3and such exposure is also regarded as a necessary critical outset for a reengineering of the apparatus.

POSSIBLE TOPICS: The open question that we wish to explore in this workshop is how to perform such critical interface analysis? Critical interface analysis has an interest in exposing the seams that bind the user to the tool within a broad apparatus. However, 5these seams may appear in different ways, be of different material nature (ranging from the formal design patterns and elements of the graphical user interface to the technical infrastructures of deeper levels of code and hardware), and they may expose different aspects of the politics of the interface. We are therefore seeking proposals from scholars and/or practitioners who are interested in presenting, conceptualizing and discussing their methodological practices – including, e.g., how they use discourse analysis, user walkthroughs (inspired by design research), data visualizations and other digital methods, “follow-the-thing” (or actor-network) approaches, studies of code, artistic practices, and more. The aim here is to map existing and emerging methods/approaches in critical interface analysis, the discussions they inherently allude to, as well as their potentials and limits.
10 Aug 202012 Aug 2020


SeminarCritical Interface Analysis
LocationAarhus University // Virtual

ID: 201891502