Monday, February 16, 2009

Overall research methodology

The current study belongs within this "critical/reflective" tradition in computer science
concerning overall research methodology:
• It shares with all the above mentioned studies a reframing of the research problem
from fields outside of traditional computer science.
• Of the above mentioned, it shares with Ehn, Suchman, and Turkle the use of detailed
empirical studies.
• It differs from all the above studies except Turkle’s in that it does not start out with a
strong hypothesis of what will be found, but lets the research question be gradually refined
through the research process. This inductive research strategy has similarities with how
designs gradually evolve in iterative design processes.
• The study differs from all the above studies in that the empirical data are from
experiments. The detailed rationale for this choice is given in Chapter 5.
In the terminology of Habermas, the current study has primarily been driven by a hermeneutic
knowledge interest, in that the aim has been to broaden our understanding of interactivity as a
At the same time, the pure curiosity has been followed by a technical knowledge interest.
The new knowledge is intended to enable tool developers to construct better software tools to
support interaction design.
The research has to a much lesser degree been driven by an emancipatory knowledge
interest. The focus has not been on the relations between people or groups of people. The data
are from experiments where the power struggle of real-world systems development and use
has to a large degree been eliminated. This is not to say that I have intended the research to be
totally neutral concerning current design practice, but the scope is relatively narrow compared
to the early work in the PD tradition. For example, my suggestion that dance classes should be
included in the curriculum of interaction designers (see Chapter 12), can hardly been
described as an upheaval of the current order of things.

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