"Futures Beyond Dystopia" and "Towards responsible dissent and the rise of transformational futures" by Richard A Slaughter in Futures.
"'Designing Technology' To Meet Human Needs: Feminist Visions in Practice" by Joan Rothschild
"Material Culture and Cultural History" by Richard Grassby in The Journal of Interdisciplinary History.
One TED Talk
Three Events & Other Talks
Asking about the nature of humanized objects, particularly in pursuit of understanding that our current technical artifacts are not inevitable, led to dissent of two sorts: future crunch and feminist.
Slaughter's approach, the first option, appears to be going full-blown hippie. He stakes out the argument that Western culture is inherently sick and the dissenting future must be an Eastern and Native–driven alternative, which is to say full Orientalist. But I don't think you have to force people to adapt to a culture that is not naturally theirs or leave Western culture behind. See: Bauhaus, Macy conferences, etc.
The feminist perspective, by contrast, calls for user centering and more bottom-up design. At this point, this has moved into accepted design wisdom.
Here I had a crisis of doubt about my framing. When I say humanized object, am I using human as a term for dissent from the inhuman present? Or am I talking about anthropomorphism? Am I talking about what people like in an object — design and ergonomics? For the related TED talk here, from James Patten, about interface objects liberated from keyboard & mouse inputs into full-fledged haptic controllers displayed a compelling vision of this question.
Looking for papers more focused around our relationships to objects themselves, I came across the idea of material culture, a field of history I was unaware, which looks at objects as vectors for understanding the emotional and physical experiences of humans in the past.
Grassby mentions etic and emic analysis and I am excited to have terms to describe these two properties of objects: the physical properties of the object as well as their significance to their users.
Another a super-exciting quote: "This approach engages the senses as well as the mind. Visual images and tactile objects help to recapture choses vécues,the physical conditions of everyday life and the options for action of different groups."
Goods are conveyors of meaning already. In suggesting attitudes via object, can we inculcate them in users? Can a more human object be a virus of dissent? The detective work of material culture historians may in fact be a clue towards how to design to communicate our wishes, just as the history of technical design & its narratives are a grounding from which to make a(n informed) new move.
Overall, material culture is an important line to look down as well as the groupings noted in 002.2a as part of the historical and cultural foundations these explorations must be situated in.