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Looking for Betsy: A Critical Theory Approach to Visibility and Pluralism in Design Open Access


Other title
Rich-Prospect Browsing
Human-Computer Interfaces
Critical Design
Feminist HCI
Decision Support Systems
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Radzikowska, Milena
Supervisor and department
Massimo Verdicchio, Comparative Literature
Stan Ruecker, Design
Geoffrey Rockwell, HUCO
Examining committee member and department
Harvey Quamen, English and Film Studies
Aidan Rowe, Art and Design
Stan Ruecker, Design
Massimo Verdicchio, Comparative Literature
Geoffrey Rockwell, HUCO
Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies
Humanities Computing
Comparative Literature
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Drawing on previous research on Critical Design (Dunne and Raby), Feminist HCI (Bardzell and Bardzell & Bardzell), and Rich-Prospect Browsing Theory (Ruecker), this dissertation strengthens the theoretical basis for further research into the development and application of a critical and reflective approach, emergent from the humanities, to the design of graphical user interfaces.Specifically, critical and feminist engagement with GUIs produced as part of an interdisciplinary project to design interfaces aimed at facilitating human decision-making within a manufacturing context resulted in three contributions. The first contribution is a conceptual framework for the interrogation of existing and the construction of new HCIs that includes the following six principles: challenge existing practices, aim towards an actionable ideal future; look for what has been made invisible or under represented; consider the micro, meso, and macro; privilege transparency and accountability; and expect and welcome being subjected to rigorous critique. Second, I provide an extension to RPB theory in the form of four new principles and three new tools: Principle of Participation, Principle of Association, Principle of Contexuality, and Principle of Pluralism; and the Connections Tool, the Structure Tool, and the Pluralist Tool. Finally, I challenge the current ontology of constraints and offer an expansion of the constraint category to include not just parts and materials, but also people (individuals, groups, and communities), environments (machines, working spaces, surrounding spaces, and electronic spaces), and processes (steps, time, decisions, upsets, consequences, factors, communications, relationships, and dependencies).
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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