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Workshop: Probing non-user interfaces

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Magnus Eriksson

RISE Interactive Gothenburg, Sweden


In the contemporary digital condition, disempowerment does not only take place though exclusion, as in discourses of the digital divide or the fear of automation. Increasingly, it happens at the same time as people are becoming even more entangled in digital networks (Cybernetic Hypothesis) in an unavoidable participation as non-users.

Everyday life is moving through a fog of data collection and automated responses for various devices -- interacting with sensors, autonomous devices, unresponsive algos, weird assistants, tracking, tagging and sorting.

These devices does not have traditional explicit interfaces but are based on implicit design, originally a genuine attempt at reducing digital stress, overflow of prompts for actions and creating more responsive and adaptive environments. But where have we ended up? What values are implicitly and explicitly embedded? Are these systems here to help us or take advantage of us? Are they here for our convenience or someone else's? Are we using the systems or are we being used by them?

What is the response from design? More smartness, increased transparency, or new tactics for avoidance behavior?

This workshop will bring together discussions, research materials and choreographed exploration of the dangers and the comedy of non-user interfaces.


Magnus Eriksson is exploring the design and socio-political entanglements of the digital condition as it intersects with urban space, public institutions and everyday life, both in a PhD in Sociology of Law at Lund University and as a design researcher at RISE Interactive Gothenburg, as part of the research initiative Prototyping Citizenship. This is an outgrowth of a long-standing engagement and participation with alternative histories and trajectories of the digital in activism, counter-culture and art as part of Piratbyrån, Telecomix and FATLAB.