Conor Linehan, Playfulness in design research


DI Webinar – Conor Linehan, School of Applied Psychology, UCC

Playfulness in design research: playing with geolocation data

In Play Anything (2016), Ian Bogost describes playfulness as a way of relating to the world where we, “pay close, foolish, even absurd attention to things. Then allow their structure, form, and nature to set the limits for the experiences you derive from them.” (p. 11)

In this talk, I will argue for the many advantages of adopting a playful approach to Research through Design. I will discuss a series of small projects, conducted with collaborators Ben Kirman and Shaun Lawson and many others, that critically examine geolocation data as a design material, through the creation of playful prototype applications. I describe how approaching the design of geo-located services in a playful manner allowed us to observe and discuss surprising, jarring or under-reported qualities of geolocation data. In each project, working prototypes were designed and implemented using contemporary hardware and software services. Through playing, using, or reading about these prototypes in the media, participants raised new questions and new concerns about how location data is mediated by smart devices, which were developed further in subsequent projects. I will conclude by discussing how we have used this playful approach to address a series of other pressing research questions, from the #doginternet, to the inevitable robot apocalypse, to physically violent video games.

Conor Linehan is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, Ireland, and member of the People and Technology research group. Conor’s research focuses on the design and evaluation of technology to support learning and behaviour change. He has a particular interest in understanding and promoting games, play and playfulness as a value in design.

Twitter:  @conorlinehan