Alan F. Blackwell

Alan Blackwell is Reader in Interdisciplinary Design in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge.

  • Work Meets Life

    Work Meets Life

    Exploring the Integrative Study of Work in Living Systems

    Robert Levin, Simon Laughlin, Christina De La Rocha, and Alan F. Blackwell

    Work as fundamental to life, explored at different levels of organization from the perspectives of a variety of biological and nonbiological disciplines.

    The work performed by living systems ranges from photosynthesis to prodigious feats of computation and organization. This multidisciplinary volume explores the relationships between work and the study of work across many different levels of organization. By addressing how work gets done, and why, from the perspectives of a range of disciplines, including cell and evolutionary biology, neuroscience, psychology, electrical and computer engineering, and design, the volume sets out to establish an integrative approach to the study of work.Chapters introduce the biological work of producing energy in the cell; establish inherent tradeoffs between energy and information in neural systems; relate principles of integrated circuit manufacture to work in biological systems; explore the work of photosynthesis; investigate how work shapes organisms' evolutionary niches; consider the human work of design; describe the effects of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction on work-life balance; and address the effects of environmental challenges (stress) on how humans and animals do work. Finally, editors and contributors draw these studies together and point to future developments.

    Contributors Alan Blackwell, Gillian Brown, Christina De La Rocha, Kevin Laland, Simon Laughlin, Robert Levin, Michael Lightner, Steven Maier, Joseph Rosse, Stacy Saturay

    • Hardcover $40.00

Contributor

  • Critical Theory and Interaction Design

    Critical Theory and Interaction Design

    Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell, and Mark Blythe

    Classic texts by thinkers from Althusser to Žižek alongside essays by leaders in interaction design and HCI show the relevance of critical theory to interaction design.

    Why should interaction designers read critical theory? Critical theory is proving unexpectedly relevant to media and technology studies. The editors of this volume argue that reading critical theory—understood in the broadest sense, including but not limited to the Frankfurt School—can help designers do what they want to do; can teach wisdom itself; can provoke; and can introduce new ways of seeing. They illustrate their argument by presenting classic texts by thinkers in critical theory from Althusser to Žižek alongside essays in which leaders in interaction design and HCI describe the influence of the text on their work. For example, one contributor considers the relevance Umberto Eco's “Openness, Information, Communication” to digital content; another reads Walter Benjamin's “The Author as Producer” in terms of interface designers; and another reflects on the implications of Judith Butler's Gender Trouble for interaction design. The editors offer a substantive introduction that traces the various strands of critical theory.

    Taken together, the essays show how critical theory and interaction design can inform each other, and how interaction design, drawing on critical theory, might contribute to our deepest needs for connection, competency, self-esteem, and wellbeing.

    Contributors Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell, Olav W. Bertelsen, Alan F. Blackwell, Mark Blythe, Kirsten Boehner, John Bowers, Gilbert Cockton, Carl DiSalvo, Paul Dourish, Melanie Feinberg, Beki Grinter, Hrönn Brynjarsdóttir Holmer, Jofish Kaye, Ann Light, John McCarthy, Søren Bro Pold, Phoebe Sengers, Erik Stolterman, Kaiton Williams., Peter Wright

    Classic texts Louis Althusser, Aristotle, Roland Barthes, Seyla Benhabib, Walter Benjamin, Judith Butler, Arthur Danto, Terry Eagleton, Umberto Eco, Michel Foucault, Wolfgang Iser, Alan Kaprow, Søren Kierkegaard, Bruno Latour, Herbert Marcuse, Edward Said, James C. Scott, Slavoj Žižek

    • Hardcover $90.00
  • Subversion, Conversion, Development

    Subversion, Conversion, Development

    Cross-Cultural Knowledge Exchange and the Politics of Design

    James Leach and Lee Wilson

    Explorations of design, use, and reuse of information technology in diverse historical and cultural contexts.

    This book explores alternative cultural encounters with and around information technologies. These encounters are alternative because they counter dominant, Western-oriented notions of media consumption; they include media practices as forms of cultural resistance and subversion, “DIY cultures,” and other nonmainstream models of technology production. The contributors—leading thinkers in science and technology studies, anthropology, and software design—pay special attention to the specific inflections that different cultures and communities give to the value of knowledge. The richly detailed accounts presented here challenge the dominant view of knowledge as a neutral good—information available for representation and encoding but separated from all social relations.

    The chapters examine specific cases in which the forms of knowledge and cross-cultural encounters are shaping technology use and development. They consider design, use, and reuse of technological tools, including databases, GPS devices, books, and computers, in locations that range from Australia and New Guinea to Germany and the United States.

    Contributors Poline Bala, Alan Blackwell, Wade Chambers, Michael Christie, Hildegard Diemberger, Stephen Hugh-Jones, James Leach, Jerome Lewis, Dawn Nafus, Gregers Petersen, Marilyn Strathern, David Turnbull, Helen Verran, Laura Watts, Lee Wilson

    • Hardcover $64.00
    • Paperback $32.00