, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 27–33 | Cite as

The beauty of the beast: the matter of meaning in digitalization

  • Anna Croon Fors
Original Article


Digitalization reveals the world in new varieties and forms. This power to unveil not only transforms human outreach and actions, but also changes our conceptions; about whom we are, about our uses and about human horizons for sense-making. In this paper, I explore experience design and the aesthetic turn in contemporary research in human–computer interaction and interaction design. This rather recent interest in aesthetic experience is in my view a move away from a view of digitalization as instances of objects aligned in networks, with certain features, qualities and properties, towards an understanding of digitalization as a relation to the world, to itself, and to what it means to be human (e.g. Technology and the character of contemporary life. A philosophical inquiry. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1984, Holding on to reality. The nature of information at the turn of the millennium. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1999; Questioning technology. Routledge, New York, 1999; The question concerning technology and other essays. Harper and Row, New York, 1977; Technology and the lifeworld, from garden to earth. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1990). As such my attempt in this text is to outline a conceptual account concerning what it might mean to designate digitalization as experienced rather than as what we traditionally think of it—as a cause of what we perceive. The paper is based on some previous work suggesting that a focus on the beauty of digitalization (i.e. the beast) entails the possibility to investigate ambiguous meanings of digitalization, meanings that are intrinsic to digitalization but have so far received little or no attention. My suggestion is that there are aesthetic and/or sublime dimensions inherent in digitalization that involves the realization of meaning that are becoming increasingly important in both use and design of digital materials. Hence, the particular focus on aesthetics as implied by the title of this text refers to a pervasive quality harbouring meaning that through a phenomenological lens could be regarded as the material basis of digitalization. The paper concludes that it is crucial to conduct more thorough studies of the relationship between aesthetics and digitalization if we are truly interested in exploring the potential of digitalization in our lives.


Aesthetic Experience Contemporary Research Significant Configuration Aesthetic Dimension Expressive Form 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of InformaticsUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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