AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction


In this paper, I examine design practices by contrasting the Cartesian view of separation with an ontological perspective and argue for a dynamic, multiple, and entangled world (namely, sociomateriality). In the digital era we live in, sociomateriality helps move design practices forward in order to embrace constant changes and re- configurations. The word interface manifests a worldview of separation. Researchers typically conceive an interface as belonging to an artifact; that is, the technology, the material. More so, [people] typically considers user interfaces as the layer that separates and connects the technology and the user, which enables interaction. I recognize the limitations of the well-established perspective of interface design and contrast two traditional HCI concepts (namely, usability and context) from a Cartesian versus a sociomaterial perspective. However, to embrace and capitalize on the emergent digital reality, we need a new vocabulary. I introduce helpful concepts that one can use when designing and talking about experiences, and I ground the concepts in a sociomaterial ontological perspective. The concepts and design approach presented in this paper invite and encourage researchers to focus on experiences as sociomaterial entanglements and re-configurations and not as separated social and material entities. By using Michel Serres’ (1980) term quasi-objects, I call attention to the complexity of sociomaterial entanglements that make up experiences and emphasize a holistic and inclusive design approach. In addition, introducing sociomaterial concepts, such as agential cuts and intra-actions, into the human-computer interaction domain invites researchers to think and act in new ways in the era of digitalized experiences. I examine the benefits of the sociomaterial design approach and present practical guidelines on how to approach experiential design with a sociomaterial take.