everyday care, social support, and interpersonal relationships

Through our primary research thread, we investigate the roles that technologies and digital systems play in human-to-human relationships. We use several lenses for helping us understand these roles, including:

  • how technologies do (or do not) support “everyday care” between people. We use the phrase “everyday care” to include all the mundane, tacit, implicit, and subtle actions people take part in—sometimes unconsciously—to demonstrate care for each other;
  • how social support networks or support groups leverage socio-technical systems to engage in reflexively caring and supportive relationships with other people; and
  • technologically-mediated interactions people engage in that are oriented toward maintaining specific relationships they have with other individuals, be they friends, romantic partners, or acquaintances.

small group interaction design (SGIxD)

Within this thread of research, we focus on interaction design techniques and approaches that best-fit how small groups of people—whether they call themselves a clique, family, mini-guild, or what have you—connect with each other. We believe there is a gap in focus in many UX and HCI endeavors, which primarily attend to the needs of individuals or to larger collectives. We do not believe that small groups have been ignored, necessarily, but rather that their needs could be more interestingly supported.

algorithmically and/or arbitrarily defined communities

Building on our previous work with communities and investigating small support groups, we are interested in the establishment, continued maintenance, and successes that arbitrarily-bounded groups and relationships sometimes enjoy. We believe these somewhat arbitrary relationships—such as those enjoyed by new parents who make “baby friends,” gamers who happen to play the same MMORPG at the same time, and people who just happen to live near each other—can teach us more about how our online communities can be helpfully drawn closer together.

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