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Hardcover | ISBN: 9780262041966 | 245 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 12 illus.| September 2001
Paperback | $25.00 Short | £17.95 | ISBN: 9780262541787 | 245 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 12 illus.| August 2004
Ebook | $18.00 Short | ISBN: 9780262254151 | 245 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 12 illus.| August 2004
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Where the Action Is

The Foundations of Embodied Interaction


Computer science as an engineering discipline has been spectacularly successful. Yet it is also a philosophical enterprise in the way it represents the world and creates and manipulates models of reality, people, and action. In this book, Paul Dourish addresses the philosophical bases of human-computer interaction. He looks at how what he calls "embodied interaction"—an approach to interacting with software systems that emphasizes skilled, engaged practice rather than disembodied rationality—reflects the phenomenological approaches of Martin Heidegger, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and other twentieth-century philosophers. The phenomenological tradition emphasizes the primacy of natural practice over abstract cognition in everyday activity. Dourish shows how this perspective can shed light on the foundational underpinnings of current research on embodied interaction. He looks in particular at how tangible and social approaches to interaction are related, how they can be used to analyze and understand embodied interaction, and how they could affect the design of future interactive systems.

About the Author

Paul Dourish is Professor of Informatics in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences with courtesy appointments in Computer Science and in Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction (MIT Press, 2001, 2004).


"Engagingly written...."—R. Keith Sawyer, Philosophical Psychology

"Important reading for anyone engaged in designing computer-based systems to support human activities ... full of interesting ideas and insights."—Richard Mateosian, IEEE Micro


"Might some of our doings actually be our representings? What if our basic grip on the world consisted in these representing deeds rather than in passive inner recapitulations prone to miss their mark? Rowlands' careful defense of this thought-provoking and original thesis opens up brand new territory, bringing work on embodied and extended cognition into contact with models of content, meaning, and action. Here is one of those rare books that might actually change the way philosophers and cognitive scientists think."—Andy Clark, Department of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh

"Human-computer interaction meets philosophical treatments of embodiment. The result: a foundational study of living and acting in a wired world. And a rare achievement too: a readable and engaging book which manages to be both sensible and groundbreaking at the same time."—Andy Clark, Department of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh

"Where the Action Is provides intellectual foundations for the emerging movement that makes people, and not machines, central to the process of design. With a clarity and thoughtfulness that make hard ideas easy, Paul Dourish's book will only increase in importance as the social nature of computing becomes evident to a new generation of technologists."—Philip E. Agre, Department of Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

"In this beautifully written book, Paul Dourish synthesizes conceptual resources drawn from across the humanities, social and computing sciences, in a way that is generative for our thinking about human/artifact relations. He surveys an intellectual terrain that provides both theoretical and practical support for new forms of engagement across the disciplines, and with the objects of creative technical practice. This book will be a resource not only for designers in human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work but also for scholars of science and technology interested in understanding those worlds from a deeply insightful, reflective practitioner's point of view."—Lucy Suchman, Professor, Centre for Science Studies, Lancaster University

"Action packed and brimming with new ideas, provocative illustrations and clearly laid-out arguments, Action in Perception is a landmark contribution to the emerging science and philosophy of the embodied mind. Pursuing the idea that perceiving is a way of acting rooted in a certain kind of implicit understanding, Noë tackles everything from phenomenology to the philosophy of content and consciousness. Empirically sensitive while remaining genuinely philosophical in scope and execution, this book is essential reading for philosophers of mind, cognitive scientists of all stripes and persuasions, and anyone interested in the nature of perception, thought and action."—Andy Clark, Department of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh