C&S SIGN lunchtime seminar series

Natural Interfaces in Children’s Everyday Experiences: Alexa in Free-Flow Play (Dr Mona Sakr)

Date & time: 9th May 2018, 1-2pm

Location: C106, College Building, Middlesex University, London


The paper will examine how the natural interface The Echo, inhabited by the personality of Alexa, contributes to the free-flow play experiences of a three and seven year old in their home. The paper is based on an understanding of play as a sociocultural phenomenon occurring in the spaces between people, cultural influences and material environments. Drawing on posthuman philosophy, natural interfaces like The Echo are explored as agentive contributors in our everyday lives, actively shaping how children’s play unfolds. The paper reports on ethnographic multimodal observations in a single home environment conducted over a three-month period, recorded through video, photography and written fieldnotes. Illustrative episodes of play are mapped in order to understand how the natural interface features in the children’s experiences and interactions. Building on this analysis, the paper discusses the continuities and discontinuities of children’s play in a sociotechnical environment increasingly populated by natural interfaces.

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