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Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium

Thinking about, designing for, and experimenting with taste in digital innovation: Lickable cities

By MJ Brïggermann, Vanessa Thomas, Ding Wang, Six Silbermann; HighWire DTC, Lancaster University Management School, School of Computing and Communications, Lancaster University, IG METALL, Aarhus University

LICKABLE CITIES is the umbrella designation for a number of interventions, discussions, serious research and provocative irony by several scholars in a number of disciplines (digital humanities, human computer interaction, cultural geography, smart cities research, urban design and innovation). Our envisaged contribution for CREATIVE TASTEBUDS is a consolidation of our lessons from 2 years of LICKABLE CITIES and our attempt to introduce the element of ‘taste’ and ‘flavour’ into digital design (interfaces, interface components and design strategy).

Thinking with and designing for taste is a resistant endeavour that is inherently challenging when trying to bring it into harmony with traditional computing, computer science and software development. Taste is resistant to quantification, profoundly situated and individual, ephemeral and difficult to replicate. These peculiarities appear to have kept HCI (human-computer interactions) researchers from engaging with taste, but therein rests the value in piloting this endeavour. Aside of the intrinsic value of taste and flavour and their central place in the human experience, we also have found some extrinsic benefits in its serious inclusion in digital innovation. Thinking with ‘taste’ – we conclude - pushes HCI and its methods to new limits.

In this paper, we aim to introduce taste as a dimension to innovate with and make a case for why and how this matters in HCI. We describe the limited, existing work in multisensory design that considers taste/flavour as a design component, and how our work builds on it. We draw upon our ethnographic experiences of licking cities (reasoning, sampling strategies, reflections, conclusions) as well as reflecting back on existing research and design provocation in innovation.

The theoretical framework, which underpins our work, is taken from Nonrepresentational theory (as described by Vannini 2015). Non-representational methodologies are an attempt to introduce into academic research that which is prone to being overlooked by traditional methods, those experiences which are difficult to grasp and describe.

We argue that the nonrepresentational framework and the new topologies it offers provides valuable lessons for digital innovation, the creative industries and research alike.