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This paper explores Donald Schön's concept of design as a conversation with materials, in the context of designing digital systems. It proposes material utterance as a central event in designing. A material utterance is a situated communication act that depends on the particularities of speaker, audience, material and genre.

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The paper argues that, if digital designing differs from other forms of designing, then accounts for such differences must be sought by understanding the material properties of digital systems and the genres of practice that surround their use. Perspectives from human-computer interaction (HCI) and the psychology of programming are used to examine how such an understanding might be constructed.

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