The designed fiction of the invisible interface

Bronwin Patrickson

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    In 1991 a researcher at Xerox Parc, Mark Weiser used terms like “invisible computing”, “embodied virtuality” and “ubiquitous computing”, to propose that distributed networks of location-aware devices of various sizes would eventually become so invisible and seamlessly inter-connected that people would “cease to be aware” of them (Weiser 1991).Weiser’s vision is now being realised by ubiquitous computing technologies that promise wideranging new capacities, but also introduce new tensions between the drive for seamless
    interaction, including (in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal) the implications that “invisible computing” may hold for the formation of networked publics. In this paper I propose to interrogate those implications through the lens of design fiction, by conducting what speculative designers Dunne and Raby (2013) have called “thought experiments” (Dunne and
    Raby 2013: 80), regarding potential future interface designs.
    Simplicity, metaphor and accessibility are potent sense- making tools of human, computer interaction design. At the same time, however, these entry points are constructions (Drucker 2011) that also create a material intervention that changes the ways that people experience systems. Whether, or not this construction precedes and therefore replaces reality (Baudrillard 1981/1994), or continues to be characterised by its difference from the real world (Deleuze 1994), nevertheless since the interface presents the system to its audience, then pubic understanding of the nature of an unfolding encounter with that system is potentially distorted.
    Understanding this shines light on the formative nature of design fiction.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2019
    EventFutures Thinking Conference - Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom
    Duration: 1 Oct 20193 Oct 2019


    ConferenceFutures Thinking Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


    • design fiction
    • voice applications
    • invisible interface
    • hidden interface


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