The End of the User – The Computer as a Thing

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The End of the User – The Computer as a Thing

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title The End of the User – The Computer as a Thing
Author(s) Ehn, Pelle
Date 2013
Editor(s) Dittrich, Yvonne; Burnett, Margaret; Mørch, Anders; Redmiles, David
English abstract
We may all agree on the importance of end users, as in end user programming, human centred design or user driven innovation. But are there theoretical limits with political implications to this anthropocentric understanding of our engagement with users, technology and the artifacts we call computers? Has the end user been patronised by contemporary progressive design and taken hostage by neo-liberal capitalism? In sociology it is becoming clear that society is not just social, but also material. The neglected objects strike back. Just think of global environmental crises. With design research it might be just the same. We know design cannot be reduced to the shaping of dead objects, as in object oriented programming, but humans are neither users living external to objects. Where sociology have had to acknowledge that society is a collective of humans and non-humans, design might have to do away with both users and objects to remain socially and politically relevant. This talk explores the consequences of replacing the object and the user with the thing. Etymologically the thing was originally not an objective matter, but a political assembly dealing with matters of concern. Which humans and non-humans should be invited to participate in contemporary design things? Who invites? Who is marginalised or excluded? What issues should be dealt with? Which designarly and parliamentary technologies should be invoked in prototyping futures? If the computer is to become a controversial thing, is that a well-grounded end of the user?
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Publisher Springer
Host/Issue End-User Development : 4th International Symposium, IS-EUD 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 10-13, 2013. Proceedings;
Volume 7897
Series/Issue Lecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN 0302-9743
ISBN 978-3-642-38705-0
Pages 8
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) user
Note 4th International Symposium on End-User Development, IS-EUD 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark, June 10-13, 2013.
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