Charting Subtle Interaction in the HCI Literature

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


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
Article number418
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2019 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 May 20199 May 2019


Conference2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2019
LandUnited Kingdom

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