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R. Harper


Publications by R. Harper (bibliography)

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Harper, R. (2009): From tele presence to human absence: the pragmatic construction of the human in communications systems research. In: Proceedings of the HCI09 Conference on People and Computers XXIII 2009. pp. 73-82. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1671011.1671020

This paper reflects on the views of the human that were oriented to in two distinct research labs and which have been used to populate an inventive landscape over the past twenty years. It suggests that there are commonalities to the views in question, making them essentially the same. Both emphasise body movement at the expense of expression and both, one could reasonably claim, derive from a conceptual dualism as regards human nature associated with Descartes and then adopted by the computer scientist, Alan Turing. The paper will argue that, whatever conceptual dualists in philosophy or computer science might want to claim or emphasise, the use of this view by the researchers in question was not because it offered an adequate ontology but because it was a pragmatically useful way of looking at the world that enabled and helped drive inventiveness. The paper will report on how this was applied in the domain of communication technologies, particularly telepresence type systems. It will remark on the benefits and limitations of this view for the inventiveness in question and how this view led to many technological innovations that have not been widely adopted and to an indifference to innovation in textually mediated communication, amongst other things. The paper will remark on the value this view might have for future research.

© All rights reserved Harper and/or his/her publisher

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Harper, R., Randall, D., Smyth, N., Evans, C., Heledd, L. and Moore, R. (2008): The past is a different place: they do things differently there. In: Proceedings of DIS08 Designing Interactive Systems 2008. pp. 271-280. http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1394445.1394474

This paper reports the trial of a wearable data capture device, SenseCam, as a resource for digital narratives and uses data from the trial to reflect on the models of the 'mind' that underscore HCI. More particularly, over a period of one week, 5 participants and 2 researchers used SenseCams to capture digital traces of their experiences, and used the same to create 'story telling' materials for presentation at a workshop at the end of the trial. The study found that all users delighted in the devices, but found that the traces that SenseCams produced were not analogues to their own memory. Instead, SenseCam data presented a picture of daily lives which was at once different to the one recollected by participants and yet brought a sense of wonder, depth and felt-life that was strangely enriching; furthermore, SenseCam data enabled participants to create artistic and evocative stories about prosaic activities that would not normally merit being recounted; and finally, SenseCam data could be used to tell parables about 'life' and hence about the characters in those parables. The paper will comment on the implications these findings have for digital narrative technologies, on concepts of memory prosthesis devices, the sociology of memory and for the concept of mind that underscores HCI.

© All rights reserved Harper et al. and/or ACM Press

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Harper, R. (2003): Correcting computer-based assessments for guessing. In J. Comp. Assisted Learning, 19 (1) pp. 2-8. http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.0266-4909.2002.00001.x

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