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Dr Ben Kirman
Senior Lecturer in Interactive Media

Profile

Biography

I’m a creative technologist and designer with over 20 years of experience in academic and commercial interactive media design and development. My PhD was in social aspects of game play and identified links between patterns of social interaction and game mechanics. I also have a BSc (Hons) in Software Engineering, MSc in Computer Games Technology, and a PGCE in Higher Education Teaching & Learning. My work tends to be playful and experimental, working with unusual technologies and settings to explore novel interactions and experiences in unexpected places. This has taken many different forms including videogames, board/card games, interactive TV, rich web projects, mobile apps, interactive theatre, and much more, dealing with topics like the gig economy, esports, education, futurism, non-league football, airport security, time travelling robots, and the dog internet.

Collaboration is central to my practice, and I have worked with organisations including the BBC, Telecom Italia, Philips, the NHS, Honda, and many more companies, groups, museums, theatres, galleries, and cooperatives around the world. These collaborations have contributed to scores of academic publications, and thousands of citations. My work has been covered widely in the press, including the BBC, New Scientist, the Guardian, the New York Times, Metro, Wired, TIME, and Your Cat magazine.

 

Research

Overview

My research tends towards the practical, using playful design to explore the tensions and opportunities provided by new technologies in how they relate to our everyday lives. Especially, through the creation of interventions in the form of prototypes, design fictions, games and experiences that explore subtle conflicts in playful and irreverent ways. For example, constructing a set of prototype computer interfaces that allow dogs to access the internet, to explore the issues around anthropomorphism in pet technologies. Or by building an intentionally inscrutable mobile game to better learn how game players deal with illegibility and develop folk theories around obscure systems. Or releasing a mobile app that sends you mysterious walking directions when you fall into a routine, reflecting on situationism in the age of the smartphone. 

My work is highly collaborative, and I have worked widely with scholars from computer science, psychology, human-computer interaction, education, and the arts.



Publications

Selected publications

Selected Publications

  • Oliver Bates, Carolynne Lord, Hayley Alter, Adrian Friday, and Ben Kirman (2021) Lessons from one future of work: opportunities to flip the gig economy. IEEE Pervasive Computing.
  • Robb Mitchell, Enrique Encinas, and Ben Kirman (2020) Social Icebreakers Everywhere: A Day In The Life. In Proceedings of The 18th European (Virtual) Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW 2020). Siegen, Germany.
  • Ben Kirman, Conor Linehan, and Shaun Lawson (2020) What's Your Problem with the Dog Internet? CHI EA '20: Extended Abstracts of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.
  • Daniel Sapiens Pargman, Elina Eriksson, Oliver Bates, Ben Kirman, Rob Comber, Anders Hedman and Martijn van den Broek (2019) The Future of Computing and Wisdom: Insights from Human-Computer Interaction. Futures. Elsevier.
  • Ben Kirman, Conor Linehan and Shaun Lawson (2018) Reorienting Geolocation Data through Mischievous Design. In Mark Blythe and Andrew Monk (Eds) Funology 2: From Usability to Enjoyment. Springer.
  • Ben Kirman, Shaun Lawson and Conor Linehan (2017) The Dog Internet: Autonomy and Interspecies Design. In Proceedings of Research through Design Conference. Edinburgh, UK
  • Ben Kirman, Tom Feltwell and Conor Linehan (2015) Player superstition as a design resource. In DiGRA Conference 2015. Lüneburg, Germany
  • Shaun Lawson, Ben Kirman, Conor Linehan, Tom Feltwell, and Lisa Hopkins (2015) Problematising upstream technology through speculative design: the case of quantified cats and dogs. Proceedings of ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems. Seoul, Republic of Korea

Contact details

Dr Ben Kirman
Senior Lecturer in Interactive Media
Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media
University of York
Baird Lane
York
YO10 5GB

Tel: +44 (0)1904 325221