Where the action is

Today's theory class was based on P. Dourish's book Where the Action is (2000). In this book, Paul Dourish addresses the philosophical bases of human-computer interaction. We started with a short outlook on the modules subjects and goals. The main aim of this Interaction Design theory class is to guide us towards finding a Bachelor thesis and slowly but firmly pushing us towards a standpoint for our project.

Joëlle prepared a short exercise for us containing two questions in order to reflect on our time here at the Toni and think about what we wanted to achieve during this last year. At first, our task was to reflect on two questions.

What contributions has our study made to our lives over the last two years?

In my perspective, this was, for example, the critical analysis of projects, which I definitely unfolded here at the ZHdK. In particular, I remember a lecture from Dr. Björn Franke on different projects, inventions or concepts that at first sight seem very useful, but in practice have had a completely different impact than intentioned. He, for example, showed us statistics of bathrooms which used futuristic Dyson hand dryers and how much more toilet paper they used, compared to classic bathrooms which still used normal paper dispensers. The project One laptop per child is another concept that I personally thought was a brilliant idea before I started studying here. In that lecture, we analyzed the flaws and errors and realized that this seemingly good project did not even closely achieve their intentions. I learned not to be deceived by projects that easily and to rather look at them from a critical standpoint.

Furthermore, I learned to represent an idea in the most convincing way I could and if needed to justify concepts or prototypes. Since most of the modules we had included an end presentation in which we showed our final product that was usually built within a few days or so, our prototypes were never even close to flawless. Still, I think in most of the cases I tried to sell my idea as good as I could, often times in the back of my head knowing how unrealistic the concept was.

This leads to the last impact that the University had on me, my presenting skills and English language in general. I can definitely say that I, because of these previous aspects, learned to use my English more deliberately and spontaneous.

What contributions have I made to the class or our school in general?

Together with mostly Vinzenz, Aurelian, and Carlo, we acquired lots of plants for the IAD atelier. In general, I think that a lot of us have put great effort into reorganizing our atelier to make it a more pleasant workspace. This often times resulted in a lot of hassle between us, the Interaction Design department or Cast, which was not really rewarding. Still, the atelier looks better than I have ever seen it before.

Last year, I contributed to the event series FIBI, by inviting and organizing an event with David Jenny, a research associate from Gramazio Kohler. I managed to arrange a very interesting talk and imagine that it was for most of us Interaction Designers a very inspiring evening.

Further discussion

Our chat than shifted towards different categories, in which we can head for our Bachelor's thesis. We got stuck on social impact and the notion of making the world a better place. After we watched a documentary on the activist group Act up, which was founded in 1987 to demand more support for people who are HIV positive, we talked about activist groups in general. Carlo made a fair point when he said that he would not know what activist group he would join since a white, male Swiss person living in Switzerland literally had nothing to complain about. So, regarding my Bachelor's thesis, founding an activist group is off the table I guess... Stay tuned!


  • P. Dourish – Where the Action is (2000)
  • Act Up, an activist group demanding more support for people with AIDS (1987)
  • How to survive a plague (2012)