Imagined interaction: visualizing human-machine communication

  • Jörgen Skågeby Stockholm university
Keywords: design fiction, diegetic prototypes, imaginary media, human-machine communication


We live in an age where consumer media technologies are hyped way before most people actually have a chance to engage with a physical product. Still, product representations, such as marketing videos, technical specifications and even software development kits provide certain clues to the capacities and limitations of the physical product in question. Prospective consumers are also increasingly invited to interact with technologies more distant in the future – via for example design fiction videos and technology vloggers. The ‘virtual products’ represented there also entice users to imagine how future interaction would take place (which they vividly do). From this premise, this paper explores what we may call imagined human-machine interaction. Put simply, this entails an interest in the intentions and concerns that come with engaging with media technologies implicitly – i.e. through representations of different kinds (which may have different underpinning agendas). However, as we shall see, retaining a notion of strict implicitness or immateriality is difficult. Theories around imaginary media, performative prototypes and design fiction challenge any firm separation of material and immaterial technologies, pointing us towards developed studies of imagined human-machine interaction.


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