A Fieldwork of the Future with User Enactments

ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems

Designing radically new technology systems that people will want to use is complex. Design teams must draw on knowledge related to people’s current values and desires to envision a preferred yet plausible future. However, the introduction of new technology can shape people’s values and practices, and what-we-know-now about them does not always translate to an effective guess of what the future could, or should, be. New products and systems typically exist outside of current understandings of technology and use paradigms; they often have few interaction and social conventions to guide the design process, making efforts to pursue them complex and risky. User Enactments (UEs) have been developed as a design approach that aids design teams in more successfully investigate radical alterations to technologies’ roles, forms, and behaviors in uncharted design spaces. In this paper, we reflect on our repeated use of UE over the past five years to unpack lessons learned and further specify how and when to use it. We conclude with a reflection on how UE can function as a boundary object and implications for future work.