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Fictional space in participatory design of engaging interactive environments

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportPh.D. thesisResearch

  • Department of Information and Media Studies
This dissertation addresses the topic of designing engaging interactive environments and is positioned in the intersection between participatory design, design theory, and interaction design. This topic has been addressed through a research program on designing engaging interactive exhibition spaces for museums and science centres. The dissertation is composed of seven research papers framed by a general overview that summarises the arguments made in the papers and outlines related work and research method. The contribution reflects a dual yet intertwined concern for understanding engagement in exhibition spaces and shaping design inquiries around the notion of engaging interactive environments.
The first part of the contribution relates to conceptualising aspects of engagement in relation to interactive environments. The perspective of participatory engagement is presented as an overarching perspective on how people as resourceful individuals and groups invest their time, skill, and knowledge in interactive environments. Within this overarching perspective, the notion of means of engagement is presented denoting the intentional constructs that mediate engagement. The notion stretches beyond individual technologies and interfaces to encompass the multitude of interconnected aspects that are arranged through design and that, in concert, mediate engagement. Through a discussion of the issue of motivation it is argued that museums might spur visitors engagement by mediating between the everyday practices of visitors and museum knowledge.
The second and larger part of the contribution addresses the issue of shaping design inquiries. This part is summarized through the overarching notion of fictional space denoting a perspective on the creation of a design space where established norms and conventions are re-shaped or suspended in participatory design inquiries. The motivation for staging fictional space in participatory design is to invite participants in design to re-think existing practices and imagine what their practices might be like if established conventions were altered. This motivation is made tangible by relating it to the particular design challenge facing museums. It is argued that fictional space emerges as participants in design engage in games of make-believe mediated by props that give mandate to imagination and serve as both anchoring- and transcending elements. The notion of fictional space is traced through design theory and developed within the scope of participatory design. Fictional space and the notions presented within this perspective are not ready-made methods or techniques for conducting design inquiries. Rather, I suggest that they enable critical reflection and inspire action relating to three areas of design inquiries that deal specifically with re-shaping or suspending established conventions. First, it addresses how design inquiries are staged to meet particular ends and in particular how various props serve the purpose of anchoring and transcending current practices. Second, the notion of fictional space as emerging through games of make-believe provides concepts for reflection-in-action regarding the progression of particular design inquiries shedding light on how participants suspend and reshape particular aspects of established practices. This provides the basis for more nuanced insights as to how participants envision that their practices might change and which particular aspects hold most potential and resistance. Third, the notion provides concepts for designers to reflect on how ideas, scenarios, or mock-ups developed during particular design inquiries are expressions based on participants re-thinking existing practices.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages218
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • design, engagement, fiction

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