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As the first semantic aspect, we may notice the infringement of the cultural frame initially predicted by user expectations. At the time when they first appeared on the screen, the visual elements of the desktop metaphor were most likely experienced as being category-inconsistent with what was then the dominating cultural frame for using a computer the [COMMAND] frame , though not for long. Upon seeing, for instance, a trashcan or a file folder, novices were simply able to decode the displayed information by recruiting from their culturally available knowledge of office work.

This invoked [DESKTOP] frame was not meant to trigger anything like interpretative tension or doubt in the users, but quite the opposite, to secure and fulfill basic usability criteria such as speed, accuracy, transparency, and reduced training time. Furthermore, this example enables us to see to what extent culture is responsible for structuring the content of the two colliding frames.

Through special training, symbolic language acquisition, imitative processes, etc. As more and more people adopted this language, it became consolidated as part of a collectively shared model for programming and interacting with a computer. The fact that this model is inter-subjectively shared among a social group is what makes it a cultural frame, if we accept the definition of Shore , p.

One of the significant aspects of the [COMMAND] frame is that users are presupposed to: learn a binary code, master clearly defined semantic and syntactic rules to be able to program, act according to command-response sequences, and so on. It does not primarily provide patterns for verbal and symbolic commands, but for nonverbal behavior and interaction. More specifically, a spatial setting with objects ascribed to a range of daily working routines: trashcans for throwing out, documents for writing, cabinets for filing, etc. Basing interface design on the experiential structures of this cultural frame was generally more intuitive than the complex semantics and syntax of command terminals.

The second semantic aspect of cultural frame shifting has to do with how people creatively reshape preexisting cultural frames through their embodied interaction with technology. To describe it in more detail, it is useful to compare cultural frame shifting with simple recognition tasks. Whereas recognition is about organizing novel experience in relation to conventional and old cultural frames, cultural frame shifting is about the conceptual reshuffling of these frames as a way of negotiating novel experiences.

As a general rule, then, cultural frame shifting implies a much more subtle interplay of cultural frames with embodied interaction, which may eventually end up causing structural changes on both levels. In such instances the typical user experience is that their cultural background knowledge and internalized models do not suffice to make sense of the incoming experiential inputs. This dissonance occurs because the technology in question bears no or only little resemblance to what they have experienced before. Nonetheless, users are undoubtedly able continuously to revise their culturally available knowledge and expectations by making imaginative inferences from their embodied interaction and contextual clues.

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Indeed, knowledge transformation and learning of this kind are a prerequisite for appropriating innovative aspects of digital artifacts or changing forms of technology-in-practice. The intensified and ongoing proliferation of information technology into new sectors of labor, educational and cultural institutions has only made this even clearer. These initial observations have served merely to provide a general description of cultural frame shifting in interaction design. However, to increase understanding of this phenomenon a more detailed research strategy must be laid out and further developed.

That is, how cultural frames are derived and reconfigured during the semantic process through which users attempt to make sense out of novel technological experiences. Secondly, we cannot account for either of the two above-mentioned aspects of cultural frame shifting, unless we expand usability ideals as cognitive transparency and performance efficiency to include aesthetic and imaginative elements of user interaction cf.

In particular our focus will be on the following research questions:. More specifically, the solution to this problem requires gaining exact knowledge about how people construct meaning as they talk, think and act in everyday situations. Basically this notion rests upon the assumption that human imagination is a pivotal function of the human mind rather than confined to the whimsical activity of dreams or the creative activities such as poetry.

Our daily encounters with reality present us with a range of situations that ask us to create new meaning, and sometimes even require us to adjust or reinterpret our culturally entrenched modes of thought and expectations. The notion of conceptual blending offers an exciting insight into the semantic principles underlying such mental activities. In the sense that it theorizes on how learning and new knowledge are acquired through sensuous experience of everyday situations, blending theory has much in common with pragmatist aesthetics as interpreted by Petersen et al.

In line with this work user imagination and active sense-making are a central concept in achieving aesthetic experiences.

Semantic Leaps: Frame-Shifting and Conceptual Blending in Meaning Construction

Furthermore, aesthetic experiences, along the line of pragmatist thinking, form the basis of forthcoming and more sophisticated experiences. Though not further developed in this paper, blending theory shows promise in providing ground for developing operational tools to more accurately and intentionally design for aesthetic experiences. Fauconnier describes the basic principles of conceptual blending as follows:.

A conceptual blend operates in two input mental spaces to yield a third space, the blend. Partial structure from the input spaces is projected into the blended space, which has emergent structure of its own. Yet frames and scripts only account for some of the partial structures in a mental space.

Mental spaces are equally organized by image schematic patterns arising from our repeated perceptual and bodily interaction with material objects and the world at large. Basically an image schema is defined as a recurrent spatial structure that gives coherence to our experience Johnson, But image schemas are not restricted to the phenomenological domain.

One of the key insights of Lakoff and Johnson , is that we constantly map image schemas onto higher-level semantic domains in thought and language, and that this is to a significant degree what makes these more abstract domains understandable and meaningful to us. A mental space construct typically represents a set of image schemas, on the one hand, and frames and scripts, on the other.

Since scripts and frames, to a large extent, are products of varying cultural factors, while image schemas are thought to be invariant embodied structures, we might then begin to understand the interplay of cultural frames and embodied interaction by exploring the way in which mental spaces are built up. To expound this idea we can expand a little on an example borrowed from Johnson , p. Depending on the number of times the buyer has actually bought a new car, the invoked frame might even be scripted into a more detailed narrative sequence of the activity itself: a buyer going to a car lot, inspecting different car models, choosing and test driving, bargaining over the price, and buying or not buying the car.

We have depicted this mental space construct in Figure 1. Figure 1. Image schema and script structure organizing a mental space construct. Imagining different enactments of this situation also enables us to notice the crucial role that experiential information from the immediate context play in the concrete shaping of a mental space. If a woman, for instance, rushes to a car dealer and jumps straight at buying a new car without even testing it, asking about its performance or the price, her deviance from the expected action sequence could then possibly lead to one of the following judgments, each of which represents a new mental space.

Not only is it the structure of the event that is culturally significant, but also the execution of the various elements, such as inspection and price negotiations. This rich array of different interpretations does not only illustrate how culture and embodied experience act as two co-constitutive factors in online meaning construction but it also reveals what online meaning construction is essentially about: the dynamic setting up and reinterpretation of mental spaces for purposes of local understanding and action cf.

Fauconnier, , p. We have schematized this process in Figure 2, depicting the partial structures with black dots. Figure 2. Conceptual blending as a network of mental spaces. Note, here, that the blend develops emergent new structure that does not exist separately in either of the two input spaces.

As we shall see shortly, this may actually involve modifying existing cultural frames. This happens through three interrelated cognitive operations as described in Fauconnier , pp. It consists in cognitive work performed within the blend, according to its own emergent logic. Interestingly, Fauconnier and Turner , pp. Input spaces. Interacting with the desktop interface cue people conceptually to blend two inputs: A mental space for ordinary office work input 1 and a mental space for computer commands input 2.

On the basis of so-called cross-space mappings between counterpart elements from the two inputs the solid lines in Figure 2 composition makes new relations available in the blend. A trashcan is attributed the delete command, a printer icon the print command, and so forth the dotted diagonal lines. Through completion background knowledge of the culturally entrenched frame of office work can be recruited into the blend thereby helping the user to understand the course of his interactions.

Lifting, moving and dropping a document into a new folder thus draw heavily on our mental conception of traditional workspace, not on the technical device itself. The experience of the desktop interface also reveals how elaboration leads to emergent new structure in the conceptual blend. As all of these blending processes are located in the individual mind of the user there is clearly a mentalistic bias underlying blending theory. In so doing, he avoids the tendency of treating the input spaces as purely mental constructs p.

Mapping Cultural Frame Shifting in Interaction Design with Blending Theory

The usefulness of the notion of material anchor will become evident in our subsequent case analysis. Here it will enable us to show how the form of a specific architectural genre such as a public aquarium may contribute with input structure to a conceptual blend. Our hypothesis is that this blend is a likely outcome of inviting visitors to use an interactive exhibition hydroscope inside the aquarium. To illustrate and ground our argument in concrete experiments the following section describes a prototype installation for exploring self-constructed fish in the setting of a public aquarium.

The prototype installation is part of a larger project set up to explore and challenge interactive exhibition spaces. We provide a full description of the prototype installation constituted by a station for construction and moveable interactive devices for exploration. However, we will for the sake of clarity in argument focus on the explorative part of the prototype, the hydroscope.

The prototype installation was subject to two periods of trial use where the time between the periods of trial use was used for design iterations based on the experiences of the first period. The description of the prototype installation is based on the current version and design changes, revisions between the two versions are put in perspective of our overarching argument.

As earlier mentioned in this paper use experiences were documented in video recording of uninstructed use and ad hoc semi-structured interviews were used to gather information of experiences Dindler et al. Among the big attractions are large-scale aquaria with a variety of tropical sharks. The centre is predominantly based on visual means and a special atmosphere is created around the different types of fish. For instance, the sharks can be seen from a glass tunnel running through the bottom of the tank where you get the feeling of being immersed in the marine environment.

The rationale for our design case was to explore a different range of means by which visitors could relate to fish and marine life. In particular, our design work evolved through the use of playful construction and exploration. Our objective was to provide visitors with a new perspective on the centre.


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Rather than explicitly communicate information about marine life we looked to create a space where visitors could imagine how marine life could be like. In a very literal sense we constructed a setup where visitors could experiment by constructing their own fish from individual parts and exploring its qualities.

Having constructed an imagined fish from different parts, visitors are able to release the fish into a digital ocean where it will live alongside fish created by other visitors. The physical pieces can be assembled to an imaginary fish on top of an RFID tag-reader, and when the user is satisfied with the constructed fish, it can be released into the virtual sea.

The tag-readers are built into a special table with a dome display viewing into the virtual sea universe. The dome view is provided through a display on top of the table Figure 3b. The construction set is developed on the basis of five different fish species, deconstructed into the following types of pieces: body, head, tail, swim bladder front fin and back fin. Each piece is linked by the RFID tag to information and a digital fish part that appears on the dome display.