Gothenburg Studies in Informatics
Report 20, May 2001, ISSN 1400-741X

Designing Everyday Computational Things
Ph. D. Thesis

Johan Redström

Publicly defended on June 14, 2001, at 14.00
Department of Informatics, main floor, Viktoriagatan 13, Göteborg

Advisor: Prof. Bo Dahlbom, Informatics, Gothenburg University
Opponent: Bill Gaver, Royal College of Art, London.
Committee: Prof. Pelle Ehn, Malmö Högskola; Prof. Hans-Werner Gellersen, Lancaster University; Prof. Tom Rodden, University of Nottingham.


The prospect of ubiquitous computing in everyday life urges us to raise basic design issues pertaining to how we will live with, and not only use, computers. To design for everyday life involves much more than enabling people to accomplish certain tasks more effectively, and therefore, traditional approaches to human-computer interaction that focus on usability are not sufficient. To support critical discussion of, and reflection upon, the design of everyday computational things, both new design philosophies and a richer collection of design examples are needed.

This thesis reports on the development of a design philosophy based on investigations of the design space of everyday computational things. Using experimental design, a collection of design examples illustrating how computational things can become integral parts of everyday environments has been developed. These investigations have been centred on: amplification of things and environments using computational technology; different forms of information presentation; the use of everyday materials in the design of computational things; and the aesthetics of computational things in use.

The specific results are a number of design examples, including support for local interaction, access to digital information using physical objects as tokens, information displays such as the ChatterBox and Informative Art, and examples of Slow Technology. The general results are presented as a design philosophy for everyday computational things. This design philosophy is aimed at design for meaningful presence, rather than efficient use, and states that computational technology is a design material, that time is the central design parameter and that aesthetics is the basis for design for presence.

Keywords: Human-computer interaction, interaction design, design research, experimental design, ubiquitous computing, aesthetics.



  1. Preface
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  2. Towards a Design Philosophy for Everyday Computational Things
    Johan Redström. Introduction to the thesis.
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  3. Designing for Local Interaction
    Redström, J., Dahlberg, P., Ljungstrand, P. & Holmquist, L. E. (1999). Designing for Local Interaction. In: Nixon, P., Lacey, G. & Dobson, S. (eds): Managing Interactions in Smart Environments, pp. 227-238. Springer-Verlag.
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  4. Token-Based Access to Digital Information
    Holmquist, L. E., Redström, J. & Ljungstrand, P. (1999). Token-Based Access to Digital Information. In: Gellersen, H. W. (Ed.): Handheld and Ubiquitous Computing, Lecture Notes in Computer Science No. 1707, pp. 234 - 245. Springer-Verlag.
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  5. The ChatterBox
    Redström, J., Ljungstrand, P. & Jaksetic, P. (2000). The ChatterBox: Using Text Manipulation in an Entertaining Information Display. In: Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2000, pp. 111-118. Canadian Information Processing Society.
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  6. Informative Art
    Redström, J. Skog, T. & Hallnäs, L. (2000). Informative Art: Using Amplified Artworks as Information Displays. In: Mackay, W. (ed.): Proceedings of DARE 2000 (Designing Augmented Reality Environments), pp. 103-114. ACM Press.
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  7. Slow Technology
    Hallnäs, L. & Redström, J. Slow Technology; Designing for Reflection. Accepted for publication in: Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. Springer-Verlag.
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  8. Expressions
    Hallnäs, L., Jaksetic, P., Ljungstrand, P., Redström, J., & Skog, T. (2001): Expressions; Towards a Design Practice of Slow Technology. Accepted for publication in: Proceedings of Interact 2001, IFIP TC.13 Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, July 9-13, Tokyo, Japan.
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  9. From Use to Presence
    Hallnäs, L. & Redström, J. From Use to Presence: On the Expressions and Aesthetics of Everyday Computational Things. Submitted for publication.*
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    (*) A revised version was later published in ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (ToCHI) , Vol. 9, No. 2, June 2002, pp. 106-124, ACM Press)

  10. Gothenburg Studies in Informatics, Index
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Kort introduktion på svenska...



  • Book
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  • Spikningsblad
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Department of Informatics
Göteborg University
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© 2001