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Randomness as a resource for design

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Many people today have access to enormous libraries of digital content. Increasingly these libraries contain personal content, consumed in support of people’s non-instrumental needs. If current trends persist, these repositories will only increase. Having to choose from so much could be unpleasant especially in the absence of strong preferences. This raises some concerns for user experience (UX) design. Within this design agenda, approaches for such interactions should not only be optimized for UX but must also support users’ non-instrumental needs. People face this predicament during digital music listening and yet report positive experiences when listening in shuffle. Through an empirical study of digital music listening and close examination of people’s listening practices and experiences, we argue that a shuffle-based approach—whereby people can abdicate choice to a random process while being able to modulate the randomness—not only mitigates the unpleasantness of choosing but also supports their non-instrumental needs while fostering desirable experiential outcomes.

This talk is part of the Rainbow Interaction Seminars series.

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