Double Binds and Double Blinds: Evaluation Tactics in Critically Oriented HCI


Vera Khovanskaya, Eric P. S. Baumer, and Phoebe Sengers. (2015). Double Binds and Double Blinds: Evaluation Tactics in Critically Oriented HCI. in Proceedings of the Fifth Decennial Aarhus Conference on Critical Computing. Aarhus, Denmark.


Critically oriented researchers within Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) have fruitfully intersected design and critical analysis to engage users and designers in reflection on underlying values, assumptions and dominant practices in technology. To successfully integrate this work within the HCI community, critically oriented researchers have tactically engaged with dominant practices within HCI in the design and evaluation of their work. This paper draws attention to the ways that tactical engagement with aspects of HCI evaluation methodology shapes and bears consequences for critically oriented research. We reflect on three of our own experiences evaluating critically oriented designs and trace challenges that we faced to the ways that sensibilities about generalizable knowledge are manifested in HCI evaluation methodology. Drawing from our own experiences, as well as other influential critically oriented design projects in HCI, we articulate some of the trade-offs involved in consciously adopting or not adopting certain normative aspects of HCI evaluation. We argue that some forms of this engagement can hamstring researchers from pursuing their intended research goals and have consequences beyond specific research projects to affect the normative discourse in the field as a whole.