Books  |  ,   |  May 14, 2020

Relating to Things: Design, Technology and the Artificial

Book edited by Heather Wiltse.
Published by Bloomsbury Academic.
304 pages.

We relate to things and things relate to us. Emerging technologies do this in ways that are interesting and exciting, but often also inaccessible or invisible. In Relating to Things, leading design researchers and philosophers respond to issues raised by this situation – inquiring into what it means to live with and relate to things that can actively relate to us, and that relate to each other in ways that do not involve us at all.

Case studies include Amazon’s Alexa, the Internet of Things, Pokémon Go and Roomba the robot vacuum cleaner. Authors explore everything from the care work undertaken by objects, reciprocal human/machine learning, technological mediation as a form of control, and what it takes to reveal things that tend to be hidden and that often (by design) conceal the ways in which they use us.

As a whole, the book is a collaborative philosophical inquiry into the nature and consequences of contemporary technological things. It is a design inquiry into the current nature of the artificial, and possibilities for how things might be otherwise.

Table of Contents

Introduction — Heather Wiltse (Umeå University, Sweden)

I: Caring for Things That Care for Us

  • Privacy as Care: An Interpersonal Model of Privacy Exemplified by Five Cases in the Internet of Things — Dylan Wittkower (Old Dominion University, USA)
  • Attachment to Things, Artifacts, Devices, Commodities: An Inconvenient Ethics of the Ordinary — Michel Puech (Paris-Sorbonne University, France)
  • The New Assisted Living: Caring for Alexa Caring for Us — Diane Michelfelder (Macalester College, USA)

II: Learning from Things That Learn from Us

  • Handling Things that Handle Us: Things Get to Know Who We Are and Tie Us Down to Who We Were — Bruno Gransche (University of Siegen, Germany)
  • Can Ethics be Learned? Videogames as an Ethical Sandbox — Fanny Verrax (independent scholar and consultant, France)
  • Casting Things as Partners in Design: Toward a More-than-Human Design Practice — Elisa Giaccardi (TU Delft, Netherlands)

III: Controlling Things That Control Us

  • Hostile Design and the Materiality of Surveillance — Robert Rosenberger (Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
  • A Tool for the Impact and Ethics of Technology: The Case of Interactive Screens in Public Spaces — Steven Dorrestijn (Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands)
  • Postphenomenology of Augmented Reality — Galit Wellner (Tel Aviv University, Israel)

IV: Revealing Things That Reveal Us

  • Imagining Things: Unfolding the “of” in Philosophy of Technology, through Object-Oriented Ontology — Yoni Van Den Eede (Free University of Brussels, Belgium)
  • The Disappearing Acts of the Morse Things: A Design Inquiry into the Withdrawal of Things — Ron Wakkary (Simon Fraser University, Canada; TU Eindhoven, Netherlands), Sabrina Hauser (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and Doenja Oogjes (Simon Fraser University, Canada)
  • Revealing Relations of Fluid Assemblages — Heather Wiltse (Umeå University, Sweden)
  • Designing Networks that Reveal Themselves — Holly Robbins (TU Delft, Netherlands)
  • Reflection and Commentary — Erik Stolterman (Indiana University, USA)

About the Editor

Heather Wiltse is Associate Professor of Design at the Umeå Institute of Design, Sweden. She is the author, with Johan Redström, of Changing Things – The Future of Objects in a Digital World (Bloomsbury, 2018).