Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The contextual-scenario framework for representing subjective experience
by Swanson, Eric, Ph.D., Illinois Institute of Technology, 2013, 205; 3574933
Abstract (Summary)

There is growing acceptance in interactive systems design for research approaches built on Phenomenological foundations. These approaches, which include methods such as Ethnomethodology and Participatory Design as well as techniques such as Personas and Cultural Probes, concern themselves with the lived experience of real people. They give insight into subjective experience—what it is like to be a particular person in a particular situation engaged in a particular activity. With greater insight into subjective experience should come greater ability to construct systems which fit into the worlds of users

However, insights into subjective experience are not always effectively sustained throughout systems development. Such findings do not blend smoothly with typical systems-development mechanisms for organizing and analyzing information, which work from an epistemology base more akin to Cognitive Science then Phenomenology. In contrast, narrative techniques, like scenarios and storyboards, tap human beings' basic abilities to use stories to understand the subjective worlds of others. But this primal nature makes narrative untrustworthy; good fiction reads like fact. To be trusted, stories for technology development must be built on a visible scaffolding of empirical data.

This research presents the Contextual Scenario Platform (CSP) design support tool. The CSP helps designers write scenarios about hypothetical people, in hypothetical situations, with thoughts, feelings, perceptions and choices for action based on empirical research. Underlying the CSP is an information framework whose structures reflect Phenomenological models of conscious experience. When encoding information into the CSP, researchers describe situations as collections of small situation-description components. Scenario authors use the same situation-description components when writing scenarios to describe each character's situation. Where these description sets overlap, the empirical finding applies to the hypothetical character.

Two case studies demonstrated the CSP's capabilities for encoding research findings and delineating complex situations with simple components. Designers in a subsequent study created scenarios using two approaches: CSP as auditor, restricting deviation from the empirical while constructing the hypothetical; and CSP as improvisational partner, with empirical data serving as catalysts for creative scenario construction.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor:
Commitee:
School: Illinois Institute of Technology
Department: Design
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 75/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Design
Keywords: Contextual scenario platform, Design support, Subjective experience
Publication Number: 3574933
ISBN: 978-1-303-52206-2
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