The Affordances of Broken Affordances

  • Martin Gielsgaard Grünbaum
  • Jakob Grue SimonsenEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 9298)


We consider the use of physical and virtual objects having one or more affordances associated to simple interactions with them. Based on Kaptelinin and Nardi’s notion of instrumental affordance, we investigate what it means to break an affordance, and the two ensuing questions we deem most important: how users may (i) achieve their goals in the presence of such broken affordances, and may (ii) repurpose or otherwise interact with artefacts with broken affordances. We argue that (A) thorough analyses of breakdowns of affordances and their associated signifiers and feedbacks have implication for design, particularly so for virtual artefacts, and that (B) there is a largely unexplored design space for designing, and redesigning objects with broken affordances, rather than broken or decayed objects.


Affordances Technology affordances Mediated action Breakdown Design 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Gielsgaard Grünbaum
    • 1
  • Jakob Grue Simonsen
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Copenhagen (DIKU)Copenhagen SDenmark

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