Kalantzis and Cope on Tactile Design Elements


What do the meanings refer to?

  • What is the material formof the object? (e.g. how it feels, how is it distinguishable from other objects, by being moveable/immovable, touchable/untouchable).
    • Does it indicate a particular person? (e.g. a child’s favourite toy)
    • Does it indicate a particular location? (e.g. a saucepan on a kitchen bench, a pen on desk).
    • How is time referred to? (e.g. something that feels new or old)
    • What particularities distinguish the object? (e.g. its function, a bowl compared to a saucepan)
    • What general concept does an object represent? (e.g. a knife/cutting, a soft toy/friendship).
    • What are the tangible characteristics of the object? (e.g. touch, taste, smell).
  • What tangible relations are there in the object? (e.g. part/whole, possession, joining/not joining, sameness/contrast).



How do the meanings connect the people in the action and the people who are communicating?

  • How does the object connect with people in a meaningful way? (e.g. how objects are configured by their use or aesthetic appeal).
  • How is use anticipated and directed? How is the user positioned?



How does the overall meaning hold together?

  • How is the object structured? What is its internal order? (e.g. the relation of components, inside/outside, visible/hidden)
  • How does the object work? (e.g. the interactions of components and the effects of these interactions).
  • How is the object sectioned, and multiple sections chained? (e.g. the parts of the object and how they are interconnected).
  • How is the object defined by the materials from which it is made? (e.g. affordances/constraints).



How are the meanings shaped by where they are situated?

  • How/where is the object located? How does it point to its surroundings (e.g. different kinds of tables in different kinds of rooms; a keyboard in relation to a computer in relation to a desk).
  • How does the setting of the object anticipate patterns of use? (e.g. times of use, places of use, mobility of the object, different kinds of use in different contexts).
  • How does the object fit into the whole universe of meaningful things, from the highly local to the global? (e.g. how it works as a type object).
  • What kind of object is it? What are its resemblances and differences compared to other objects?



Whose interests do these meanings serve?

  • How is the object structured around certain priorities?
  • How is the object selectively designed or used to support a position or affirm a role or stance? (e.g. a gift/loan, something for free/a commodity for purchase).
  • Whose interests does the object support (e.g. private profit/an object in the public ‘commons’).
  • What are its ancillary effects? (e.g. environmental, social, cultural, economic).
  • What range of alternatives for action does the object offer, such as the different kinds of people whose roles and identities it may support? (e.g. flexible/inflexible, restrictive/expansive, open/closed).


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