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Where the action is. The Foundations of Embodied Interaction

by Paul Dourish

Every piece of software reflects an uncoutable number of philosophical commitments and persectives without which it could never be created. [...] While any software system introduces some kind of formalization of the world, HCI (like AI) deals with formalizations of human cognition and activity. These are the issues that have lain at the hart of philosophical debate for centuries. In some ways, it would be hard to imagine a more philosophical enterprise.

The transition from interacting with computers using a soldering iron to interacting using a mouse has been neither smooth nor planned. Instead, the evolution of interaction models has gone hand in hand with the evolution of technologies, models of computation, and perceptions of the roles that computers will play in our lives.

My reason for viewing the history of interaction as a gradual expansion of the range of human skills and abilities that can be incorporated into interaction with computers is that I believe that it provies a valuable perspective on activities such as tangible and social computing. In particular, it shows that these two areas draw on the same sets of skills and abilities. Tangible and social computing are arguably aspects of one and the same research program.

The positivist, Cartesian "naive cognitivism" approach makes a strong separation between [...] mind as the seat of consciousness and rational decision making, with an abstract model of the world that can be operated upon to form plans of action, and the objective, external world as a largely stable collection of objects and events to be observed and manipulated according to the internal mental states of the individual.