Intelligent Artefacts at Home in the 21st Century

  • Richard Harper
  • Alex Taylor
  • Micheal Molloy


For us, the term ‘agency’ is a label to define that property of an artefact that gives it a place in some train of human action. Now, from this view, an artefact might be given agency by dint of being hit with another object held by a person. Thus the mechanics of movement could be a label for an agency of sorts. But mechanics have no interest to us. Our view on agency assumes that the word is used to describe a sequence of acts that make manifest not just an action, a hitting of an object, but a thought, an idea, a moral purpose; in other words, a human action with a particular kind of intention.

Now this sense of the term agency is one that not only opens up all sorts of conceptions and possibilities, but also opens up all sorts of conceptual confusions. As to the first: conceptions and possibilities. It leads one to imagine that objects with certain kinds of agency could be ‘tools of the mind’. This, in crude summary, is the credo of distributed cognition and its...


Mobile Phone Text Message Smart Home Digital Medium Cell Tower 
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.



we are indebted to all those who participated in our field research and prototype trials. their time, commitment and thoughts during the studies have been invaluable. Special thanks must also go to those who have worked on the design and development of the prototypes as well as helping explore and evaluate their utility. Abi Sellen, Shahram Izadi, Tim Regan and Steve Hodges played vital roles in this. Ken Wood and Lyndsay Williams also made substantial contributions during the ideation stage of the fridge magnet project. Rachel Eardley deserves particular thanks for her contributions to the interaction design for homenote, the whereabouts clock and the fridge magnet concepts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Microsoft Research CambridgeCambridgeUK

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