Everyday Life

How can we consider the structures that organize our daily activities and experiences in interaction design?

Interactive technologies are progressively populating our world and becoming increasingly integrated and self-evident in our daily activities. We use mobile applications to carry out all kinds of daily activities, such as commuting to work, organizing our sports exercises or finding a nice restaurant. More and more activities, both professional and private ones, are mediated by mobile apps, and the way they are designed is increasingly influencing how we experience the world, how we perceive, interpret and act. Thus, a central challenge for interaction designers has become to understand: how our experience in everyday life is structured and how we can consider these structures in the design of interactive systems.


“But no activity is any sort of pure, undiluted problem-solving. Even the most articulately abstract problem-solving is made out of individual episodes that are themselves matters of routine.”
—Agre, 1988, p.265

Everyday activities such as walking, washing, tidying up require modeling concepts that go beyond consciously performed actions. In this context, I am particularly interested in activity theory and its concept on the organization of activities in three hierarchical levels. In this concept the lowest level of an activity, named operations, provides an understanding for situated body movements through which our everyday activities unfold.