Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Trying Not to Be Cute

Speaking of conferences, I feel that I have to say something about the weirdest conference call from the ACM I've gotten all year, the Workshop on Designing Cute Interactive Media. I've taken enough Japanese to be familiar with the concept of "kawaii," but I'm not sure that I'm ready to produce a real philosophical meditation on the subject.

Let's see: "The Sublime, The Beautiful, and The Cute." Maybe there could be a grand theory of cuteness that rises to the level of Burke, Kant, or Schopenhauer. The call reads as follows:

Cuteness has an effective design philosophy that can be used in many areas to make emotionally engaging user interactive systems, as well as evaluate existing systems. Cuteness can also be included as an engineering design framework that can assist designers and engineers when creating engaging interactive systems that motivate the user in a happy, positive manner.

In contrast, I write about government discourses and the work of social activists on the World Wide Web. I often feel that the foisting of cuteness on the public in children's websites is often counterproductive for information literacy. Parodies, hoaxes, remixes, and mashups maybe might grab my scholarly attention, but not cuteness per se.

This workshop will be held in conjunction with the SIG-CHI conference on Designing Interactive Media in South Africa.

Update: Since posting, I have discovered cuteoverload.com, which is actually a remarkably compelling website. Link via the blog of Felicia Day, writer and star of the web show The Guild.

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