Professor John McCarthy


My research is concerned with understanding people’s experience of emerging social, personal, and work technologies. This research is broadly pragmatic and socio-cultural and one of its aims is to inform the design of usable and enriching technologies. In 2004, I wrote a book with Peter Wright (Technology as Experience, MIT Press) that developed an account of human experience as simultaneously aesthetic, sensual, intellectual, and emotional, providing a theoretical basis for user experience research. In 2010, I wrote another book with Peter (Experience-centred design: Designers, users and communities in dialogue, Morgan Claypool), which focuses on methods of experience-centred design. Broadly speaking, this experience-centred design project aims to evaluate where HCI has gotten to in its attempts to understand users, especially in the light of design-led research in HCI and qualitative research in the social sciences. This research feeds back into my teaching in the areas of qualitative research, theory and psychology, and people and technology.

I am interested in supervising research projects that relate to the projects and areas outlined above: e.g. people’s experiences with technology in interesting contexts (e.g. as I get older I have an emerging interest in the potential that technology has for older people and in health care settings), particular kinds of person-technology experiences (enchantment, intimacy), aesthetic aspects of interaction with and through information and communication technologies (e.g. social networks and mobile phones), user-centred service design (e.g. hospice care, school), and the design process itself.