Thursday Research Bulletin 30.7.2015

“Minecraft took away my Thursday – but I loved every moment.”

About this week

Another couple of publications going forward this week. Trying to compare the concept of ‘authentic context’ from Herrington, Reeves and Oliver (2010) in education with embodied cognition, phenomenology and human-computer interaction (e.g. with Paul Dourish’s work, see also references in the post from last week). Some interesting stuff coming out from this actually, hope to present it soon enough. See also sources below in the section “Interesting reading this week”.

Related to this, I asked fellow academics at ResearchGate a couple of questions, i.e. what is the relationship between phenomenology and embodied cognition, and how would you describe ‘Imaginative Variation’.


If anyone is interested in going to ACIS 2015 (The 26th Australasian Conference on Information Systems), they have extended their call for papers to 10th August. This year it is at the University of South Australia in Adelaide, 30.11.–4.12.2015.

From the web

Nokia seems to be making some effort to return to the tech market. Still, the marketing message with this OZO VR camera is a bit lost with mixed tech affordances IMHO.

Interesting reading this week

I am really aiming to better understand the relations between phenomenology, embodied cognition and neuroscience. Shaun Gallagher, naturally together with Merleau-Ponty, has proved to be a helpful source for this on many levels.

Here’s an interesting article about experience, AR and VR by Fominykh et al.


Dourish, P. (2004). Where the action is: the foundations of embodied interaction. Cambridge, MA: MIT press.

Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2010). A guide to authentic e-learning. London and New York: Routledge.


Weekly research project bulletin 9.7.2015

During the last two weeks I’ve been conducting interviews for the phenomenological study of 3D virtual training environments. I’ve had pretty interesting discussions with the users. So this week’s been mostly about transcribing interviews – which sort of gives you a back, neck, elbow and wrist pain. Some themes are already starting to emerge, but I want to keep them at bay until I have transcribed everything and not jump into conclusions. Well, if I did, that would sort of be against the chosen descriptive phenomenological approach to analysis with bracketing and everything.

I’m doing the transcription myself, by hand. So no Dragon Dictate for me. The reason I am doing it like this is that I learned it already during my Masters research and one other research project that such a process gets you well immersed in the data. You become more one with it when you go through it several times. And boy, when you transcribe it, you really go through it several times. So that’s a good thing instead of a “process to be optimised”. Naturally if I had 50 people to be transcribed (and I can count roughtly 1 to 6 ratio for a transcription time, i.e. 1 hour of audio takes about 6 hours to transcribe), I probably would have to think other options too.


Just received a confirmation that a paper, “The Lived Experience of an Authentic Context in Virtual Environments: First Steps of a Descriptive Phenomenological Analysis in a Safety Training Setting“, co-authored with Hanna Teras and Torsten Reiners got accepted in the AACE 2015 E-Learn–World Conference on E-Learning.

It’s also that time of the year when Curtin Business School is having the annual 2-day Colloquium. I attended last year with a poster, which even won the best poster award. Full paper and a poster this year as now the research project is a bit further. Based on a paper by Randolph (2009), I used a phenomenological approach also to a part of the literature review in how research in human-computer interaction and especially in 3D virtual environments has described ’embodiment’. Hope to have some interesting results to present about this, and of the actual process of conducting it, at the colloquium.


Randolph, J. J. (2009). A Guide to Writing the Dissertation Literature Review. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 14(13), 1–13. doi:10.1306/D426958A-2B26-11D7-8648000102C1865D

A couple of notes about the philosophy of human-computer interaction

Recently I came across a four video series where Dag Svanaes discusses how the philosophy of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty could advice better understanding of interaction design. The first of the videos below, with a couple of quotes that I found especially basic and useful.

“To actually experience interactivity, you have to engage in some kind of interaction. And it is only through this interaction that the interactivity of the object appears to you. That you perceive it. Objects have various affordances, interaction is created by you in the interaction with the gadget.”

From video 2: “What it is (for example a pen), is just matter in space. It becomes something through use and social negotiation.”

I find this as a very important notion, especially when I’ve been reading more and more studies that have taken existing game engines to be used “seriously” in professional training, such as in mining. Often video games have certain affordances, such as exploration and interaction in general (naturally there are differences between Tetris and Halo). Such affordances are always restricted by the underlying programming and choices by the developers (invisible walls, I can’t go and eat a burger in Halo and in Borderlands I cannot die hitting the ground even jumping from the tallest building). Still, it seems to me, something is always stripped away even more when games are “assimilated” into education. In worst cases, they become something else than games. Through actual use, they become mere powerpoints.