Bringing up the past : interaction design for serendipitous reminiscing

D.A.P. van Gennip

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)

1279 Downloads (Pure)


People reminisce to entertain themselves, to connect with others, and to increase self-awareness. Photographs have proven a great resource to support reminiscing. However, with a move towards digital capture and storage, people have more photos that end up undervalued and underused. This thesis explores how interaction design can support reminiscing in everyday life, in particular through the use of digital photos. We focus on serendipitous reminiscing: the casual recollection and reliving of past experiences, brought about by chance encounters with things that remind of one’s past. These encounters are easily afforded to physical things but not to digital photos.

Based on a diary study on involuntary reminiscing, a repertory grid study on remembering as experience, and two research-through-design studies on interactive photo displays, this thesis explores how people relate to memory cues in everyday life. We confirm that encounters with personal media and other things that remind one of one’s past are welcome, and that the value of photo displays stems from making photos present in everyday life (rather than their interactive features). The findings contribute to design research by furthering the understanding of remembering as experience and the development of several novel concepts that facilitate serendipitous reminiscing.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Industrial Design
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • Markopoulos, Panos, Promotor
  • van den Hoven, Elise A.W.H., Promotor
Award date3 May 2018
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Print ISBNs978-90-386-4500-1
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2018

Bibliographical note



  • interaction design
  • memories
  • remembering
  • user centred design

Promotion : time and place

  • 11:00h, Auditorium, Senaatszaal


Dive into the research topics of 'Bringing up the past : interaction design for serendipitous reminiscing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this