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Presentation: Practice-based Design: Some Object Lessons

by Abel Avram on May 15, 2009 |

In this OOPSLA 2008 session, Lucy Suchman teaches 8 lessons about objects: Learning to see, Classification, Object Agencies, Configurations, Boundaries and Interfaces, Contextualizations, Recontextualizations, and Transformations, showing how they can influence design.

Watch: Practice-based Design: Some Object Lessons (1h 12min.)

1. Learning to see. In a flight control room, a flight controller has to monitor many objects containing information about plane flights.

2. Classification. We routinely classify objects.

3. Object Agencies – a gun in someone’s hand is no longer the-gun-in-the-drawer. It becomes something else, and the subjects is becoming someone else when holding a gun in his hand. The association of a subject with an object can change both of them.

4. Configurations. Subjects and objects are combined in various configurations which greatly change the relationship between them. The example used is that of a subject under anesthesia where the patient needs to rely on various machines and instruments to support his life.

5. Boundaries and Interfaces. An interface is an object that becomes a transparent medium that we work through.

6. Contextualizations. Objects play an important social role. Some goods can be produced in China but are sold by an American company to South America.

7. Recontextualizations. Object designed for a purpose may end up being used for other purposes. An example is using feral robotic dogs to analyze sites to find polluting substances.

8. Transformations. Objects can increase public engagement with large scale issues.

Suchman presents an example showing how these lessons can influence the design of a project.

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