Charting Subtle Interaction in the HCI Literature

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Henning Pohl, Andreea Muresan, Kasper Hornbæk

Human-computer interaction is replete with ways of talking about qualities of interaction or interfaces, including if they are expressive, rich, fluid, or playful. An example of such a quality is subtle. While this word is frequently used in the literature, we lack a coherent account of what it means to be subtle, how to achieve subtleness in an interface, and what theoretical backing subtleness has. To create such an account, we analyze a sample of 55~publications that use the word subtle. We describe the variants of subtle interaction in the literature, including claimed benefits, empirical approaches, and ethical considerations. Not only does this create a basis for thinking about subtleness as a quality of interaction, it also works to show how to solidify varieties of quality in HCI. We conclude by outlining some open empirical and conceptual questions about subtleness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI '19
Number of pages15
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2019
Pages1-15
Article number418
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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