Strong concepts: Intermediate-level knowledge in interaction design research

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Höök, K. and Jonas Löwgren. (2012). Strong concepts: Intermediate-level knowledge in interaction design research. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction. 19, 3, Article 23 (October 2012), 18 pages.

SUMMARY – Design-oriented research practices create opportunities for constructing knowledge that is more abstracted than particular instances, without aspiring to be at the scope of generalized theories. We propose an intermediate design knowledge form that we name strong concepts that has the following properties:

• it concerns the dynamic gestalt of an interaction design, that is, its interactive behavior rather than its static appearance;

• it resides at the interface between technology and people. It is a design element, a potential part of an artifact, and at the same time, it speaks of a use practice and behavior unfolding over time;

• it carries a core design idea which has the potential to cut across particular use situations and perhaps even application domains;

• it resides on an abstraction level above particular instances, which means that it can be realized in many different ways when it comes to interface detailing (cf. concept design vs. detailed design).

We present two strong concepts — social navigation and seamfulness — and discuss how they fulfil criteria we might have on knowledge, such as being contestable, defensible, and substantive. Our aim is to foster an academic culture of discursive knowledge construction of intermediate-level knowledge and of how it can be produced and assessed in design-oriented HCI research.

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Further reading
View Kristina Höök’s and Jonas Löwgren’s author profiles on Google Scholar.