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Tyler Fox authors chapter on speculative design for book on HCI methods

Leah Pistorius
July 25, 2018

Dr. Tyler Fox, a lecturer in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, has authored a chapter in a new textbook about contemporary third wave human-computer interaction.

Book cover, Springer publishersIn the chapter, “Problematic Milieus: Individuating Speculative Designs,” Fox provides an overview of speculative design and describes its value as a theoretical tool for exploring how things come to be in the world.

Fox describes speculative design as one aspect of design that allows designers to explore problematics, rather than specific problems. He argues that speculative design must come before traditional design, so that designers may expand their understanding of the possible, the problematics, before questions can be articulated and later solved.

In the chapter, Fox explores five examples of speculative design, and analyzes how each prompts people to rethink existing ideas. He uses several concepts of Gilbert Simondon, a philosopher of technology and individuation, as one lens through which to think of this practice.

Discussing speculative design and its application to the field of human-centered design, Fox said, "Speculative design and related discursive design methods—critical design, design as inquiry, research through design—are important for our field. They help push back against a positivist stance that technology is all good, and/or that design is neutral. It can help us think through some of the potential unintended consequences of technology and design."

The chapter is included in the book New Directions in Third Wave Human-Computer Interaction: Volume 2 - Methodologies, out now through Springer Publishers.