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Being-with: a study of familiarity

Turner, Phil


Phil Turner


How people learn to use an interactive device has always been an important field of research in human-computer interaction (HCI). The theoretical bases of which have ranged from the traditional cognitive perspectives through situated learning to collectivist - social perspectives. Each of these has treated learning to use interactive devices in a typical dualistic manner with a clear distinction between ''man and machine''. However, in addition to simply using interactive technologies we also co-exist with them, a relationship which might be called being-with. For many of us, interactive technology has always been there (we are born into a world replete with it) and we have a deep familiarity with it. Familiarity, according to Heidegger, is non-dualistic; it is a fact of our existence, of our worldliness; it is one of the primary ways in which we relate to the world, and offers an alternate basis for thinking about how we learn to use technology. An empirical study of familiarity is presented involving a group of seniors learning to use a personal computer and the services it provides. The analysis of the resultant substantial body of interview and discussion group data lead to the conclusion that to become familiar with technology is to integrate it into one's everyday life - an everyday life which is correspondingly reconfigured. Specifically, learning to use these technologies is better seen as changing the practices of everyday life to accommodate them. This dimension of being-with potentially has significant consequences for very many aspects of HCI. So, in addition to designing for ease of use; designing for experience perhaps we should now add designing for being-with.


Turner, P. (2008). Being-with: a study of familiarity. Interacting with Computers, 20, 447-454.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2008-09
Deposit Date Jan 12, 2010
Publicly Available Date May 16, 2017
Print ISSN 0953-5438
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 20
Pages 447-454
Keywords being-with; Borgmann; familiarity; Heidegger; learning; qualitative analysis; human-computer interaction;
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