Hermeneutic Phenomenologies and new Technologies

A brief description of the mini-seminar, to be delivered in English and German on Nov. 4 & 5, 2008.

Hermeneutic phenomenology, as the study of lived experience and its meanings, has had a rich and complex relationship with both the study and design of technologies. This type of phenomenology has opened up new ways of understanding the relationship between technical systems and the human lifeworld, which have been important for both the critique and the development of software and other technologies. Dr. Norm Friesen (Canada Research Chair in E-Learning Practices, Thompson Rivers University) will begin this short seminar series by providing an overview of the philosophical presuppositions and understandings underling hermeneutic phenomenology —in the areas of knowledge, language and communication. In so doing, he will also highlight how these philosophical understandings, despite their theoretical nature, have been put to practical use in the literature of software and usability design.  Dr. Friesen will explore how these presuppositions can inform a particular adaptation of the hermeneutic phenomenological method that focuses on descriptive, reflective writing. He will give special emphasis to a particular descriptive device that is central to this method—known as the “anecdote” — and will illustrate how this device can be applied to the study of interaction with computers and new media.

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