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Morse Things

Design Implementation

Redesign of MTs


Morse Things has been an ongoing project at the Everyday Design Studio since 2016. It explores what it means to be a thing on the internet while being part of our everyday human experiences. Morse Things are a set of ceramic cups and bowls connecting to the internet and communicating via Morse Code [16]. Through a material speculation approach, the project is motivated by philosophy of technology and thing perspective in HCI to investigate and inquire about the gap between things and humans. After a lapse of a year or more we developed a new iteration of the Morse Things and planned a second deployment study (see [13] for details). However, the second deployment was cut short after the Morse Things broke during shipping to and from study participants (figure1). After exploring repairs or refabrication of the ceramic bowls we decided to launch into a new phase for the Morse Things in which we aimed to work in partner with the agency of the broken pieces. We were excited at the opportunity to explore iteration and nonhuman agencies from a starting point of breakage or repair. This meant a reconceptualizing of our human assumptions to fully attend to breakage as a sign of nonhuman forces. Therefore, in this phase, we see the broken pieces as active members with agentic capacities [4], potentially generating design alternatives and iterations as to redesign the broken Morse Things. Our aim is to reorient ourselves within this collaborative space and actively decenter our human agency to make way for the broken Morse Things and their agentic capacities as nonhuman designers. To that end, we embrace designing-with nonhumans within the constituency while acting from a position of indeterminacy and not-knowing, making way for a more inclusive partnership to emerge.


Behzad, A., Wakkary, R., Oogjes, D., Zhong, C., & Lin, H. Iterating through Feeling-with Nonhuman Things. In Extended Abstracts of the 2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

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