Community Meeting (Mar 18, 2020): Designing and Programming with Multiplicity


Presenters: Philip Tchernavskij

I am going to present my doctoral research work, focusing primarily on the theories and methods I applied and appropriated. My thesis project was part of a larger grant-funded project to develop conceptual and technical models for software that help people better control the many devices, apps, and documents they deal with in our era of ubiquitous computing. Control is not just a mediated by software architecture, but also by the social and economic arrangements in which software is made and used. To study these interacting phenomena, I drew from the disciplines of infrastructural ethnography, cultural-historical activity theory, software engineering, and more. I'm going to discuss how these concepts were useful to me, how they might be useful to this community, and where I'm still struggling with them.


Readings mentioned in the talk

Liam Bannon. From Human Factors to Human Actors: The Role of Psychology and Human-Computer Interaction Studies in System Design. 1995. Readings in Human-Computer Interaction. Elsevier.

Susanne Bødker and Clemens Klokmose. The Human-Artifact Model: An Activity-Theoretical Approach to Artifact Ecologies. 2011. Human-Computer Interaction. Taylor & Francis.

Susanne Bødker, Henrik Korsgaard, Peter Lyle, and Joanna Saad-Sulonen. Happenstance, Strategies and Tactics: Intrinsic Design in a Volunteer-based Community. 2016. NordiCHI 2016, pages 10:1-10:10.

Susanne Bødker, Peter Lyle, and Joanna Saad-Sulonen. Untangling the Mess of Technological Artifacts: Investigating Community Artifact Ecologies. Communities & Technologies 2017, pages 246-255.

Viktor Kaptelinin and Liam Bannon. Interaction Design Beyond the Product: Creating Technology-Enhanced Activity Spaces. 2012. Human-Computer Interaction. Taylor & Francis.

Wendy Mackay. Patterns of Sharing Customizable Software. 1990. CSCW 1990.

Alan MacLean, Kathleen Carter, Lennart Lövstrand, and Thomas Moran. User-tailorable Systems: Pressing the Issues with Buttons. 1990. CHI 1990, pages 175-182.

Lucy Suchman. Located Accountabilities in Technology Production. 2002. Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, 14 (2).7.

Philip Tchernavskij. Designing and Programming Malleable Software. 2019. PhD Thesis. In publication.


  • Conceptual tools - theories, methods
  • Human-Artifact Model
    • Artifact - a mediating agent or tool, e.g., a chat program
    • Human - orienting basis -- the knowledge, understanding, etc. (mental set?) that a person brings to bear when using the mediating artifact
      • The means by which a person acts on artifacts
    • Levels
      • Motivational (Why?) 
      • Instrumental (What?) - goal oriented
      • Operational  (How?)