The Photobox is a a domestic technology embodied in the form of a networked oak chest that prints four or five randomly selected photos from its owner’s Flickr collection at random intervals each month. The specifically targets digital photos–one of the most expansive and rapidly growing forms of digital media. The social networking service Facebook received approximately 4,000 digital photo uploads per second. The Photobox project explores how slowing down digital photo consumption could create an interaction pace that supports anticipation, reflection, and long-term interaction. The owner has no control over what is printed nor when. The Photobox does not demand nor require its owner’s attention to enact its behavior. The design of the Photobox combines materials (e.g., oak wood, brass, paper photos), a form (a chest), and a restricted interaction pace not commonly associated with domestic technologies to envision and explore a radically different way of experiencing personal digital archives and, more generally, technology in everyday life.
I deployed three Photoboxes in three households respectively for fourteen months. The Photobox emerged as successful at providing a rich, ongoing sense of engagement with digital photo archives. It also prompted participants to reflect on the role, place, and pace of other technologies in their lives. This project received a CHI 2014 best paper award and demonstrated the viability for slowness to operate as a design strategy for enabling physical manifestations of digital data to become more integrated resources in everyday life in valuable and sustained ways.
Odom, W., Sellen, A., Kirk, D., Banks, R., Regan, T., Selby, M., Forlizzi, J., Zimmerman, J. (2014). Designing for Slowness, Anticipation and Re-Visitation: A Long Term Field Study of the Photobox. In proceedings of SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Toronto, Canada. CHI ’14. ACM Press. *Best Paper Award* (Local Copy, ACM Link)
Odom, W., Selby, M., Sellen, A., Kirk, D., Banks, R., Regan, T. (2012). Photobox: On the Design of a Slow Technology. In Proceedings of Designing Interactive Systems, Newcastle, UK. DIS ’12. ACM Press. (Local Copy, ACM Link)
Odom, W., Wakkary, R., Lim, Y., Desjardins, A., Banks, R., Hengeveld, B. (2016, in press). From Research Prototype to Research Product. In Proceedings of SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. San Jose, USA. CHI ’16. ACM Press.
Wakkary, R., Odom, W., Hauser, S., Hertz, G., Lin, H. (2015). Material Speculation: Actual Artifacts for Critical Inquiry. In Proceedings of the 5th decennial conference on Critical computing: Critical Alternatives. (CC ’15). ACM Press.