Understanding Animals: A Critical Challenge in ACI

Monday 1 October 2018
Organisers or author: 
Fredrik Aspling, Oskar Juhlin, Heli Väätäjä

Full paper.

We present a qualitative content analysis of visual-verbal social media posts, where ordinary dog owners pretend to be their canine, to identify meaningful facets in their dogs’ life-worlds, e.g. pleasures of human-dog relation, dog-dog relations, food etc. We use this knowledge to inform design of “quantified pets”. The study targets a general problem in Animal-Computer Interaction (ACI), i.e. to understand animals when designing “for” them, although lacking a common language. Several approaches, e.g. ethnography and participatory design, have been appropriated from HCI without exhausting the issue. We argue for a methodological creativity and pluralism by suggesting an additional approach drawing on “kinesthetic empathy”. It implies to understand animals by empathizing with their bodily movements over time and decoding the realities of their life-worlds. This, and other related approaches, has inspired animal researchers to conduct more or less radical participant observations during extensive duration to understand the perspective of the other. We suggest that dog owners whom share their lives with their dogs already possess a similar understanding as these experts, and thus uphold important experiences of canine life that could be used to understand individual dogs and inspire design.