Co-Experience: Understanding user experiences in social interaction

This week I finished reading Co-Experience: Understanding user experiences in social interaction, by Katja Battarbee. This book is actually her Master’s Degree dissertation, from the University of Arts and Design in Helsinki, in 2004. The thesis here is that to study co-experience, experience prototyping should happen early in the process, in the real context of people who will interact with this experience. For me, it was very helpful to read this and to confirm my own approach to creating an interactive intervention: it’s all about context and people in the real world.

She talks about prototyping and the importance of it as part of the interaction design and experience design process. Personally, I think prototyping is quite fun! There is no “wrong” or “right” way of doing things -as it is a sketch, and through it, you are going to find out what works and what doesn’t. It’s fun to put yourself into people’s shoes and do whatever it is that you are analyzing or exploring. When we physically do things with our bodies (bodystorming, or whatever they call it), you go through steps that otherwise might been overlooked, and grasp a sense of proportions, scale, frequency, etc. When using cardboard and paper, or more high-fidelity prototyping, one can see the reach, possibilities and also shortcomings and things to consider in terms of input/output, scale, etc. And they pop right away.

The author also states that what is interesting is that “available technologies may be used in new, innovative ways for different, originally unintended purposes”. I couldn’t agree more, and this way of using technology as a tool is the approach I want to follow on my MA project. I discovered in this book  that with new technology and frameworks, people are put into the role of content developers. This is what is very important about interaction: the ability to control, modify, re-jig and adapt a system.

Co-experience is described as being:

  • social
  • multimodal
  • creative
  • for fun

All in all, a good read that made me think about the approach I want to take with my project.

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