Remembering today tomorrow: Exploring the human-centred design of digital mementos
This paper describes two-part research exploring the context for and human-centred design of 'digital mementos', as an example of technology for reflection on personal experience (in this case, autobiographical memories). Field studies into families use of physical and digital objects for remembering provided a rich understanding of associated user needs and human values, and suggested properties for 'digital mementos' such as being 'not like work', discoverable and fun. In a subsequent design study, artefacts were devised to express these features and develop the understanding of needs and values further via discussion with groups of potential 'users'. 'Critical artefacts' (the products of Critical Design) were used to enable participants to envisage broader possibilities for social practices and applications of technology in the context of personal remembering, and thus to engage in the design of novel devices and systems relevant to their lives. Reflection was a common theme in the work, being what the digital mementos were designed to afford and the mechanism by which the design activity progressed. Ideas for digital mementos formed the output of this research and expressed the designers and researchers understanding of participants practices and needs, and the human values that underlie them and, in doing so, suggest devices and systems that go beyond usability to support a broader conception of human activity. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.