Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 15–30 | Cite as

Pursuing genius loci: interaction design and natural places

  • Nicola J. BidwellEmail author
  • David Browning
Original Article


Human computer interaction (HCI) has little explored everyday life and enriching experiences in rural, wilderness and other predominantly “natural” places despite their socioeconomic importance. Beyond simply addressing the challenge arising from applying an urban perspective to designing technologies for use in natural places, we wish to provoke integration of the natural and computational worlds. To stimulate design that both draws upon and affords such integration, we propose seven themes we have distilled from the literature and supplement these with our own research observations. Bodies Imagine and Remember recognizes the inseparability of meanings and corporeal experience of natural places for design. Indexicality and Habitus refers to the need for design to be sensitive to the processes by which natural features become intelligible in our actions and communication. Values and Story-spaces observes the way representations and infrastructures, infused with particular values, become dominant. Identity and Belonging, suggests the need to reconcile designs with couplings between physical settings, processes of community and personal identity. Rhythm and Dynamism considers links between people’s daily routines, nature’s events and patterns and spatial and social issues pertinent to design and in Revealing and Receding we suggest that design must simultaneously fade into the background and provoke seeing natural places differently. Fragility, Liability and Spirituality refers to technological opportunities to support positive relations within ecosystems and recognizing the limits of technological control.


Natural places Wilderness Rural Nature Habitus Spatial practices Dialogic Indexicality Embodiment Feltlife 



Thanks to: KM for cowcam reflections; GF for insightful discussions; PD for provocation; BT and GM for practical support; and, Mama, Tata, Sixolile, Bulelwa and, especially, Thulani Sithelo for their nurture in Transkei.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.James Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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