Value of embodiment in service design: the case of a Finnish software business

We are humans. We have bodies. Bodies move. Bodies are located in places: offices, conference rooms, around coffee tables, technology buildings, manufacturing facilities, northern and southern or western and eastern parts of countries or continents, and finally across the globe. Bodies need to move between places to gain the embodied knowledge discussed in this paper.

However, the Internet with zillions of digital services is making it possible to achieve embodied movement and knowledge without physically moving the body from place to place. This is the key to understanding what embodied value is all about: bodies need not enter all the available places in order to gain embodied knowledge. Embodiment is also meanings interpreted based on the experiences one already has, e.g., from similar or opposite places, items handled, or literature read.

Another example of an embodiment view is how people see major differences between the traditional physical work and the work of the digital age. The difference is not so tremendous when you think about it as embodied practices. People still move through physical spaces (take steps, make gestures, laugh, lift a coffee cup, eat, etc.) during the workday, but they also reason and make sense of abstract things through embodied perception.

There still is much to do in terms of concretizing how multilevel the embodied knowledge actually works and how it has changed throughout the digital era of communication. In addition, knowledge rooted in the many levels of embodiment and expressed as verbal meanings requires social action to emerge (Gallese & Cuccio 2015; Gärtner 2013). This is something that is endogenous, i.e., designed into human action and reasoning. It is also what human-centered service design is all about: pulling together collaboratively and socially constructed embodied knowledge in order to present and share it in a simple form.

Piia Rytilahti (University of Lapland): Value of embodiment in service design: the case of a Finnish software business