Completed thesis: Sezgi Kaya on technology use in Type-I Diabetes

Sezgi Kaya has successfully completed her Master’s thesis, titled “Biosociality and product design: User practices in Type 1 diabetes management” in November 2019 (Supervisor: Harun Kaygan). Congratulations!

Her thesis involved netnography of a social media diabetes forum, followed by interviews with users of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring systems. She documented users’ biosocial practices around device use with special regard to how the devices contribute to the visibility of the illness and how the devices coordinate the patients’ care networks. She was also interested in the user-experiential implications of dynamic, real-time monitoring of glucose.

Sezgi and I will present the findings of her thesis at the Chronic Living conference in Copenhagen 23-25 April.

New elective! ID362 Film Culture and Design Thematics: Science Fiction and Design

Black and white detail from ‘By Ducks’, Simon Stålenhag, 2016

I am happy to announce my new undergraduate elective on Science Fiction and Design.

This semester I resuscitate the course ID362 Film Culture and Design Thematics, which was an elective designed and run once by Prof. Dr Mehmet Asatekin many years ago. In line with the learning outcomes of the original course, I’ll be interested in science fiction film and literature, and we’ll collectively try to translate the resources into design insights.

Here’s the syllabus.

ID723 Design Cultures and the Human Body: Fall 2016-17 Syllabus

Images, from left to right, top row: (1) “EXERCISES 1–3: Exercising the mus-cles of the face, neck, and head […] helps maintain the tone and contour of the facial skin and musculature. It will also ‘train’ the muscles to control unattractive facial expressions.” In: Way Bandy, Designing Your Face: An Illustrated Guide to Cosmetics, 1977 URL. (2) “Proper proportions of a love seat.” In: Francis de N. Schroeder, Anatomy for Interior Designers, 1948 (Illustrations by Nino Repetto, Henry Stahlhut, and Mario Carreño) URL; (3) “BentoLab” low-cost portable DNA analysis lab. bottow row: (4) “Vehicle”, Krzystof Wodiczko, 1973. (5) “A leather and metal rod limb”. In: “Disability Information Resources (DINF), Disabled Village Children, Chapter 67 (Artificial Legs)” URL

We have done the first ever semester of the course, ID723 Design Cultures and the Human Body. We read theoretical pieces, stories, and comics; we watched films, TV series, and anime; we talked about products, and practices. We had the most stimulating semester!

My thanks to Dr. Aret Karademir (METU Philosophy) and Dr. Melike Şahinol (Orient-Institut Istanbul), who gave excellent lectures as part of the course; and to all students for their enthusiasm and hard work.

You can find the syllabus here.

New course: ID723 Design Cultures and the Human Body

Here is the poster for the new graduate I offer from Fall 2016-17. The syllabus will follow.

the human body has been a prominent object in design, as designers routinely refer in their practice to observations of and speculations about bodies, their capabilities and limitations, as well as the common postures and practices. such references are value-laden and so politically relevant; design practice is never merely a matter of optimizing products for existing bodies, but through its products empowers or precludes, makes visible or invisible, glorifies or stigmatizes, brings forth or destroys bodies.

we will focus on medical products; with readings on biopolitics and material semiotics and from medical STS; seminars by visiting scholars; film and documentary screenings, case study exercises of existing products and design projects in our vicinity. key topics include embodiment, discipline, cyborg, posthuman, normalization and quantification, molecularization of life. cases include synthetic biology, biohacking, mobile health; reproductive technologies such as assisted fertility and ultrasound; prosthetics such as cochlear implants; brain machine interfaces, etc.

Thomas Carpentier - L’homme, mesures de toutes choses
Thomas Carpentier
“L’homme, mesures de toutes choses”
Image borrowed from here.

Paper at DGTF Tagung 2015: Reassembling Relationships

We presented a paper at the 12th Annual Conference of the German Society of Design Theory and Research (DGTF): Reassembling Relationships: People, Systems, Things in Potsdam on 16–17 October 2015. Below is the abstract:

Hande Işık and Harun Kaygan, “Reading the Body: Assessing Emerging Health and Wellness Technologies and Interactions”

Recent growth in the development of innovative technologies for healthcare and wellness have enabled the redesign and even the overall transformation of processes, services, and products for health-related activities. In this context, emerging trends in health technologies prioritize the empowerment of users to maintain their health and prevent any problems before they occur. For this purpose, emerging technologies become more and more personal and pervasive in users’ everyday lives, anytime anywhere (Connely et al., 2006; Varshney, 2007; Weiser, 1993; Fox & Duggan, 2012). Technological features such as context awareness, implicit and calm interaction and similar others play a crucial transformational role in product development (Weiser, 1993; Poslad, 2011). Mobility and wearability come to the fore as means to enable such features in ways that to fit the needs of health and wellness technologies, making it easier for the latter to maintain a constant connection with users’ lives (Consolvo et al., 2008; Kuru, 2013; Movassaghi et al., 2014). These technologies work constantly at the background, collect user data silently, and remind its presence only when necessary, dramatically changing current conceptions of human product interaction (Pellegrino, 2006; Weiser & Brown, 1997).

Such technological change has been increasingly blurring the boundaries between people, mobile technologies and their interaction by making technologies work as extensions of humans, and in turn, people as extensions of technologies. Thomas Fuchs (2006) compared the effects of these developments to schizophrenia, as they dissolve the boundaries of body and experience through constant, mobile and long-distance outward connectivity (as by Internet) and reify the patient/user’s subjectivity through constant inward monitoring of bodily and psychical processes (as by MRIs). Indeed, as users and mobile technologies get intertwined through the above mentioned technological interfaces, bodily processes are unearthed, explored, mapped, and represented to users so that they gain awareness on their bodily processes, with guidance to change or maintain these processes purposefully , and thus even reimagine themselves.

If we are not to follow Fuchs’ line of argumentation that argues for a pretechnological human authenticity, and accept the mutual construction of humanity and technology, such technologies of healthcare and wellness call for a systematic analysis in terms of their premises and effects. Indeed, one can say that these technologies have political implications in that they rely on and sustain today’s dominant biopolitical mode of governance that concerns itself with individuals’ health and well-being (Lemke, 2011; Foucault, 1980). On the other hand, as Verbeek (2012) formulates, an ethics of new technology has to differentiate between dominance and power, and acknowledge that a transparent and continuous companionship of human and technology enables the former to develop awareness of and thus actively construct itself.

Regarding the question of how and to what extent these technologies can and do empower their users in self-constitution while eluding dominating effects, the literature on their design and consumption focuses largely on the pragmatic aspects of interaction. This paper aims instead to present a systematic analysis, referring both to the theoretical framework discussed above and to human computer interaction studies in order to reveal how new positions and relationships are being established and transformed around these technologies. In order to do this, we examine a number of mobile health and wellness products, assessing their representations of bodily processes, especially as regards issues of transparency and empowerment. The selection of products is carried out based on the innovations in interaction that bring bodily processes into view. These include monitoring apps and products, which read bodily processes such as sleep cycles, heart rate, and brainwaves, rendering them graphically observable and manipulable to some extent; running and exercise apps that keeps track of routines while at the same time enabling creative connections, for example, amongst people or between people and landscape; and others, such as the Smartbra, which objectifies emotions to regulate eating behaviour. The analysis results in a unique systematic perspective that brings pragmatic and critical views together and thus fill the gap in the literature, especially on design.

Special Dossier for Arredamento Mimarlık: Tasarım ve (Biyo)politika

Arredamento kapak

We (HK and OŞ) invited Levent Şentürk from Osmangazi University, Eskişehir, as a guest lecturer to ID 708 Critique of Design II, and he shared with us his new book on architecture and biopolitics (Mimarlık ve Biyopolitika, 6.45, 2013). This triggered a classroom discussion on design and biopolitics, which ended up as a special dossier for the architecture magazine, Arredamento Mimarlık.

You can download the dossier (in Turkish) here.

Table of contents:

  • Harun Kaygan, “Çadır” (Tent)
  • Sedef Süner, “Direniş” (Resistance)
  • Osman Şişman, “İsyan Teknolojisi: Tasarım, Teşhir, (Biyo)Politika” (Technology of Riot: Design, Exposition, (Bio)Politics)
  • Efe Alpay, “Yansımaya Dokunmak” (Touching the Reflection)
  • Yekta Bakırlıoğlu, “Bilinçliyim, Ekolojik Tüketiyorum” (I am Conscious, I Consume Ecological)

Reference: Osman Şişman and Harun Kaygan, eds., “Tasarım ve (Biyo)politika, Arredamento Mimarlık 272, September 2013.