08 May 2013

extending and enhancing meaningful conversation: paper

Cover from full thesis document presented on 29 April 2013

Cover from full thesis document presented on 29 April 2013

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Extending and Enhancing Meaningful Conversation by Erin Hauber

This thesis inquires into today’s social networking experiences from a critical perspective with a hypothesis that closeness may be represented more substantially in these spaces as people engage in meaningful conversation. The proposals in this thesis are not apps for conversation. Instead, they are value fictions that introduce different ways for young women to engage with each other, as well as with the content of conversations they already share, to foster feelings of closeness. The proposals rely on social psychologists’ findings that feeling close escalates intimacy and results in more meaningful conversation (Aron, Aron, and Smollan 1992).

The proposals are rhetorical. They question the means by which we connect and converse today, and provide mandates to design more affective networked experiences. The speculative proposals are presented as pages from a pamphlet with Sm<3 Phone Mandates that any designer may choose to follow. The mandates focus on the activities of constant talk, the gradient of “here” and methods for cherishing conversation. And while technology-augmented conversation may always be at odds with the “real thing,” opportunities exist to design alternative experiences for young women, interfaces and functions that create conditions where meaningful conversation is more likely to occur.

What are the possibilities to extend and enhance meaningful conversation in interfaces and experiences designed for networked young women?

affective design; cherishable digital object; closeness; conversation; design fiction; design for emotion; ICT; interaction design; interface design; meaningful conversation; mobile phone; networked technology; smart phone; social networks; social presence; speculative design; user experience; value fiction