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Understanding People Understanding Technology

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The increasing importance of understanding how people use technology brings with it the greater challenge of understanding how people understand technology. In our research and educational programs at Georgia Tech, we are investigating new lenses that illuminate how people consume and produce computing experiences as reflections of their daily lives. Every day people appropriate technologies, actively construct new meanings for technologies, interpret, and reinterpret those technologies. This active engagement with technology drives the emergence of a new understanding of human relationships with computational technology ­ human-centered computing. In this talk, we provide an overview of this perspective and then highlight one research program specifically engaging people¹s active interpretations of technology. The idea of studying interpretations is not new; over many centuries, philosophers, theologians, and other hermeneutic scholars have contributed to our understanding of how people read and interpret texts. Contemporary scholars argue that people read and interpret texts beyond those bound between the covers of books; people read and interpret a much wider breadth of media, artifacts, experiences, and institutions. Here, we explore computer-mediated communication technologies as texts, drawing from multiple empirical studies to begin to describe the nature of technological interpretations.

This talk is part of the Interdisciplinary Design: Debates and Seminars series.

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