HCI & Values in Design Reading List

From some recent conversations that I’ve had, I’ve been reflecting on what I might put on a reading list or syllabus to try to introduce someone to HCI perspectives on “values in design” and thought I’d put them together here! Some of this draws on the syllabus from “Technology and Delegation,” the Berkeley School of Information graduate course I helped teach with Deirdre Mulligan for a couple years.

These are predominantly pieces that I’ve found useful for my own thinking, or useful in a teaching context. As such, it’s a necessarily partial list. So thoughts/feedback/additions welcome – feel free to reach out at ryw9 {at} berkeley.edu

Introducing Values in Design

Some higher level and survey pieces to orient ourselves. (I’m assuming that people have already bought into the idea that technologies are not neutral. If not, I might point to Madeleine Akrich’s “The De-Scription of Technical Objects” or  Langdon Winner’s “Do Artifacts Have Politics?” as intro pieces that point to the ways technical artifacts can be enrolled in promoting certain values and politics).

What Are Values?

What are values? How are they viewed in different disciplines? Ranging from the more universal views of human rights, to more situated and contextual perspectives, to the law’s distinction between substantive and procedural values.

Conceptualizing the Values Problem

There are lots of different ways we might think about “cutting the cake” of a given values problem. We can look at the same problem space from lots of perspectives using different methods. These papers provide some tools and frameworks to help us think about different approaches to the problem space.

  • Katie Shilton, Jes A. Koepfler, and Kenneth R. Fleischmann. 2014. How to see values in social computing: Methods for Studying Values Dimensions. In Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (CSCW ’14), 426–435. https://doi.org/10.1145/2531602.2531625
  • Deirdre K. Mulligan, Colin Koopman, and Nick Doty. 2016. Privacy is an essentially contested concept: a multi-dimensional analytic for mapping privacy. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 374, 2083. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2016.0118
  • Deirdre K. Mulligan, Joshua A. Kroll, Nitin Kohli, and Richmond Y. Wong. 2019. This Thing Called Fairness: Disciplinary confusion realizing a value in technology. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction 3, CSCW: 1–36. https://doi.org/10.1145/3359221

User Centered Design

A brief overview of how user and human centered design has thought about human actions historically, as well as some contemporary examples of human centered design in products and services.

Value Sensitive Design

VSD methods can be seen as an attempt to broaden the purview of user & human centered design to explicitly consider social values in the design process.

  • Batya Friedman, Peter H. Kahn, and Alan Borning. 2008. Value Sensitive Design and Information Systems. In The Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics, Kenneth Einar Himma and Herman T. Tavani (eds.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 69–101. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-007-7844-3_4 
  • Batya Friedman, David G. Hendry, and Alan Borning. 2017. A Survey of Value Sensitive Design Methods. Foundations and Trends® in Human–Computer Interaction 11, 2: 63–125. https://doi.org/10.1561/1100000015
  • Batya Friedman and David Hendry. 2012. The envisioning cards: a toolkit for catalyzing humanistic and technical imaginations. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’12), 1145–1148. https://doi.org/10.1145/2207676.2208562

Critically Oriented Design Approaches

Some design approaches use design practices towards other ends than “solving problems”, such as surfacing and re-framing problems, asking questions, or articulating alternative social and technical configurations of the world.

  • Bill Gaver and Heather Martin. 2000. Alternatives: exploring information appliances through conceptual design proposals. Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’00): 209–216. https://doi.org/10.1145/332040.332433
  • Phoebe Sengers, Kirsten Boehner, Shay David, and Joseph Jofish Kaye. 2005. Reflective Design. In 4th decennial conference on Critical computing: between sense and sensibility (CC ’05), 49–58. https://doi.org/10.1145/1094562.1094569
  • Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby. 2013. Beyond Radical Design? Chapter 1 in Speculative Everything. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Matt Malpass. 2016. Critical Design Practice: Theoretical Perspectives and Methods of Engagement. The Design Journal 19, 3: 473–489. https://doi.org/10.1080/14606925.2016.1161943
  • Karin Hansson, Laura Forlano, Jaz Hee Jeong Choi, Carl Disalvo, Teresa Cerratto Pargman, Shaowen Bardzell, Silvia Lindtner, and Somya Joshi. 2018. Provocation, conflict, and appropriation: The role of the designer in making publics. Design Issues 34, 4: 3–7. https://doi.org/10.1162/desi_a_00506

What Does it Mean to Use “Design”?

After the previous sections, we might reflect a bit on the politics and knowledge claims involved in using different types of design practices. And reflect on when we might turn to other mechanisms and practices beyond design.

Incorporating Stakeholders

What are different ways we (as researchers, designers, community members, etc.) engage with other stakeholders?

Values Case Studies


  • Batya Friedman, Ian Smith, Peter H. Kahn, Sunny Consolvo, and Jaina Selawski. 2006. Development of a Privacy Addendum for Open Source Licenses: Value Sensitive Design in Industry. In Proceedings of the 8th international conference on Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp ’06), 194–211. https://doi.org/10.1007/11853565_12 
  • Pam Briggs and Lisa Thomas. 2015. An Inclusive, Value Sensitive Design Perspective on Future Identity Technologies. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 22, 5: 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1145/2778972


  • Tad Hirsch, Kritzia Merced, Shrikanth Narayanan, Zac E. Imel, and David C. Atkins. 2017. Designing Contestability: Interaction design, machine learning, and mental health. In Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems – DIS ’17, 95–99. https://doi.org/10.1145/3064663.3064703

Justice & Feminist Perspectives

These help contextualize values issues in longer-term and structural relations of power and harm.

  • Lynn Dombrowski, Ellie Harmon, and Sarah Fox. 2016. Social Justice-Oriented Interaction Design. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS ’16), 656–671. https://doi.org/10.1145/2901790.2901861
  • Marie Louise Juul Søndergaard and Lone Koefoed Hansen. 2018. Intimate Futures: Staying with the Trouble of Digital Personal Assistants through Design Fiction. In Proceedings of the 2018 on Designing Interactive Systems Conference 2018 – DIS ’18, 869–880. https://doi.org/10.1145/3196709.3196766
  • Mariam Asad. 2019. Prefigurative Design as a Method for Research Justice. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction 3, CSCW: 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1145/3359302 

Organizational Contexts

How might we consider the organizational, social, and cultural contexts in which we try to apply the methods and tools we’ve discussed? What challenges might occur?

Values in the Longer Term

How might we consider values (and associated practices of labor) over longer periods of time?

  • Lara Houston, Steven J Jackson, Daniela K Rosner, Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed, Meg Young, and Laewoo Kang. 2016. Values in Repair. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’16, 1403–1414. https://doi.org/10.1145/2858036.2858470
  • Daisy Yoo, Katie Derthick, Shaghayegh Ghassemian, Jean Hakizimana, Brian Gill, and Batya Friedman. 2016. Multi-lifespan Design Thinking: Two Methods and a Case Study with the Rwandan Diaspora. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’16, 4423–4434. https://doi.org/10.1145/2858036.2858366


CHI 2019 Annotated Bibliography (Part 1)

After the 2019 CHI conference (technically the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems) and blogging about our own paper on design approaches to privacy, I wanted to highlight other work that I found interesting or thought provoking in a sort of annotated bibliography. Listed in no particular order, though most relate to one or more themes that I’m interested in (privacy, design research, values in design practice, critical approaches, and speculative design).

(I’m still working through the stack of CHI papers that I downloaded to read, so hopefully this is part 1 of two or three posts).

  • James Pierce. 2019. Smart Home Security Cameras and Shifting Lines of Creepiness: A Design-Led Inquiry. Paper 45, 14 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300275 — Pierce uses a design-led inquiry to illustrate and investigate three data practices of IoT products and services (digital leakage, hole-and-corner applications, and foot-in-the-door devices), providing some conceptual scaffolding for thinking about how privacy emerges differently in relation to varying technical (and social) configurations. Importantly, I like that Pierce is pushing design researchers to go beyond conceptualizing privacy as “creepiness”, through his exploration of three tropes of data practices.
  • Renee Noortman, Britta F. Schulte, Paul Marshall, Saskia Bakker, and Anna L. Cox. 2019. HawkEye – Deploying a Design Fiction Probe. Paper 422, 14 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300652 — Building on Shulte’s concept of a “design probe,” Noortman et al. participants interact with a (beautifully designed!) control panel in the home over 3 weeks to act in the role of a caregiver in a design fiction about dementia care. The paper furthers the use of design fiction as a participatory and embodied experience, and as a data collection tool for research. The authors provide some useful reflections on the ways participants imagined and helped build out the fictional world in which they were participating.
  • Yaxing Yao, Justin Reed Basdeo, Smirity Kaushik, and Yang Wang. 2019. Defending My Castle: A Co-Design Study of Privacy Mechanisms for Smart Homes. Paper 198, 12 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300428 — Yao et al. use co-design techniques to explore privacy concerns and potential privacy mechanisms with a range of participants (including diversity in age). Some interesting ideas arise from participants, such as creating an IoT “incognito mode,” as well as raising concerns about accessibility for these systems. Sometimes tensions arise, with participants wanting to trust IoT agents like Alexa as a ‘true friend’ who won’t spy on them, yet harboring some distrust of the companies creating these systems. I like that the authors point to a range of modalities for where we might place responsibility for IoT privacy – in the hardware, apps, platform policy, or operating modes. It’s a nice tie into questions others have asked about how responsibility for privacy is distributed, or what happens when we “handoff” responsibility for protecting values from one part of a sociotechnical system to another part.
  • Kristina Andersen and Ron Wakkary. 2019. The Magic Machine Workshops: Making Personal Design Knowledge. Paper 112, 13 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300342 — Andersen and Wakkary outline a set of workshop techniques to help participants generate personal materials. I appreciate the commitments made in the paper, such as framing workshops as something that should benefit participants themselves, as well as researchers, in part by centering the workshop on the experience of individual participants. They propose a set of workshop elements; it’s nice to see these explicated here, as they help convey a lot of tacit knowledge about running workshops (the details of which are often abbreviated in most papers’ methods sections). I particularly like the “prompt” element to help provide a quick initial goal for participants to engage in while situating the workshop. While the example workshops used in the paper focus on making things out of materials, I’m curious if some of the outlined workshop elements might be useful in other types of workshop-like activities.
  • Laura Devendorf, Kristina Andersen, Daniela K. Rosner, Ron Wakkary, and James Pierce. 2019. From HCI to HCI-Amusement: Strategies for Engaging what New Technology Makes Old. Paper 35, 12 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300265 – Devendorf et al. start by (somewhat provocatively) asking what it might be like to explore a “non-contribution” in HCI. The paper walks through a set of projects and works its way to a set of reflections about the norms of HCI research focusing on the “technological new,” asking what it might mean instead to take the present or the banal more seriously. The paper also starts to ask what types of epistemologies are seen as legitimate in HCI. The paper calls for “para-research” within HCI as a way to focus attention on what is left out or unseen through dominant HCI practices.
  • Colin M. Gray and Shruthi Sai Chivukula. 2019. Ethical Mediation in UX Practice. Paper 178, 11 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300408 – Through a set of case study observations and interview, Gray and Chivukula study how ethics are conducted in practice by UX designers. The paper provides a lot of good detail about ways UX designers bring ethics to the forefront and some of the challenges they face. The authors contribute a set of relationships or mediators, connecting individual designers’ practices to organizational practices to applied ethics.
  • Sarah E. Fox, Kiley Sobel, and Daniela K. Rosner. 2019. Managerial Visions: Stories of Upgrading and Maintaining the Public Restroom with IoT. Paper 493, 15 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300723 – Through interviews, participant observations, and analysis of media materials, Fox et al. investigate managerial labor in regulating access to public bathroom resources. They craft a story of regulation (in a broad sense), about how the bathroom’s management is entangled among local politics and on-the-ground moral beliefs, corporate values, imagined future efficiencies through technology, and strategic uses of interior and technological design. This entanglement allows for particular types of control, allowing some access to resources and making it harder for others.
  • William Gaver, Andy Boucher, Michail Vanis, Andy Sheen, Dean Brown, Liliana Ovalle, Naho Matsuda, Amina Abbas-Nazari, and Robert Phillips. 2019. My Naturewatch Camera: Disseminating Practice Research with a Cheap and Easy DIY Design. Paper 302, 13 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300532 – Gaver et al. detail a DIY nature camera, shown in partnership with a BBC television series and built by over 1000 people. Interestingly, while similar tools could be used for citizen science efforts, the authors are clear that they are instead trying to create a type of public engagement with research that focuses on creating more intimate types of encounters, and engaging people with less technical expertise in making. The cameras help create intimate “encounters” with local wildlife (plus the paper includes some cute animal photos!).
  • Sandjar Kozubaev, Fernando Rochaix, Carl DiSalvo, and Christopher A. Le Dantec. 2019. Spaces and Traces: Implications of Smart Technology in Public Housing. Paper 439, 13 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290605.3300669 — Kozubaev et al.’s work adds to a growing body of work questioning and reframing what the “home” means in relation to smart home technology. The authors conduct design workshops with residents (and some managers) in US public housing, providing insight into housing situations where (1) the “home” is not a single-family middle class grouping, and (2) the potential end users of smart home technologies may not have control or consent over the technologies used, and are already subject to various forms of state surveillance.
  • Shruthi Sai Chivukula, Chris Watkins, Lucca McKay, and Colin M. Gray. 2019. “Nothing Comes Before Profit”: Asshole Design In the Wild. Paper LBW1314, 6 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3290607.3312863 — This late breaking work by Chivukala et al investigates the /r/assholedesign subreddit to explore the concept of “asshole design,” particularly in comparison to the concept of “dark patterns.” They find that asshole design uses some dark pattern strategies, but that dark patterns tend to trick users into doing certain things, while asshole design often restricts uses of products and more often include non-digital artifacts. I think there may be an interesting future regulatory discussion about asshole design (and dark patterns). On one hand, one might consider whether dark pattern or asshole design practices might fit under the FTC’s definition of “unfair and deceptive practices” for possible enforcement action against companies. On the other, as some legislators are introducing bills to ban the use of dark patterns – it becomes very important to think carefully about how dark patterns are defined, and what might get included and excluded in those definitions; the way that this work suggests a set of practices related to, but distinct from, dark patterns could help inform future policy discussions.

Assembling Critical Practices Reading List Posted

At the Berkeley School of Information, a group of researchers interested in the areas of critically-oriented design practices, critical social theory, and STS have hosted a reading group called “Assembling Critical Practices,” bringing together literature from these fields, in part to track their historical continuities and discontinuities, as well as to see new opportunities for design and research when putting them in conversation together.
I’ve posted our reading list from our first iterations of this group. Sections 1-3 focus on critically-oriented HCI, early critiques of AI, and an introduction to critical theory through the Frankfurt School. This list comes from an I School reading group put together in collaboration with Anne Jonas and Jenna Burrell.

Section 4 covers a broader range of social theories. This comes from a reading group sponsored by the Berkeley Social Science Matrix organized by myself and Anne Jonas with topic contributions from Nick Merrill, Noura Howell, Anna Lauren Hoffman, Paul Duguid, and Morgan Ames (Feedback and suggestions are welcome! Send an email to richmond@ischool.berkeley.edu).

Table of Contents:

See the whole reading list on this page.

DQ: Is $0.00 Really the Future of Business?

Is the internet really shifting towards a completely free model?

I think that it is interesting that Chris Anderson’s article in Wired uses the example of the New York Times going to a free mode of access circa 2008, while since then, they and other media outlets, such as Time, The Wall Street Journal, and soon the Washington Post, have created paywalls in order to access content. To me, Anderson’s statement that:

A decade and a half into the great online experiment, the last debates over free versus pay online are ending

does not seem to be entirely true anymore. Arguably, the paywalls are not just protecting “premium content,” but almost all content. Another example is that Hulu used to be completely free, but now access to older episodes and older shows now requires a paid account. What could be causing these trends, and what is the potential impact? Following Lessig’s 2 economies basis, have these media companies, many of whom also distribute content in “traditional media,”  been trying to navigate their way between commercial and sharing economies over the last decade (and settling somewhere closer to the former)? Does the need to create paywalls suggest that we are in a part of Tim Wu’s “cycle,” in the problem discovery stage? And what are the implications of the continuing free versus pay debate?