Feline Agency at Home

May 20, 2018

I'm a proud owner of two cats (or owned by them?). I'm always amazed by how they interfere in our use of technology at home (we keep them indoor almost all the time). Cats are smart and curious. They learn and do things that are not planned for them. I think it's a form of agency, although the agency of the feline category is probably less discussed compared to that of humans or artifacts. I don't have the latest knowledge of animal-computer interaction research and am possibly very biased in believing that cats definitely deserve more attention and respect in our studies of human-technology relationship. There are countless times they sit on our keyboards and mice and we know it's time to take a break and pet them. We bought a Roomba Vacuum a few years ago. There were a few times when we worked upstairs, and heard the sound of it running. At first we thought it might just start on its own for some weird reason. Well, our cats were probably the main reason, as we caught our cats at least once putting their paws on the big power button in the middle of the Vacuum. They were immediately scared away when the Vacuum started to work. Many home technologies, especially "smart" ones, are designed to be effortless to use. The intended users are humans but cats can learn too. Perhaps design of home technology can better acknowledge feline agency at home?

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