25 February 2016

Design as Participation (Beyond User-Centered Design)

Be the first to share

In this long essay, published in MIT’s brand new Journal of Design and Science, Kevin Slavin argues that designers of complex adaptive systems are not strictly designing systems themselves. They are, he says, hinting those systems towards anticipated outcomes, from an array of existing interrelated systems.

These are designers that do not understand themselves to be in the center of the system. Rather, they understand themselves to be participants, shaping the systems that interact with other forces, ideas, events and other designers.

This essay is Slavin’s exploration of what it means to participate.

In other words, it explores what it means to design adaptive systems in a user-centered design world:

When designers center around the user, where do the needs and desires of the other actors in the system go? The interventions obscure the view of the ecosystem they affect. […]

The user made perfect sense in the context in which it was originally defined: Human-Computer Interaction. UCD emphasized the practical and experiential aspects of the person at the keyboard, as opposed to the complex code and engineering behind it.
But we are no longer just using computers. We are using computers to use the world. The obscured and complex code and engineering now engages with people, resources, civics, communities and ecosystems. Should designers continue to privilege users above all others in the system? What would it mean to design for participants instead? For all the participants? [My emphasis]

Be the first to share
2 July 2017
To improve people’s health, listen to social scientists
With an ageing population, a rise in long-term conditions, growing health inequalities and a lack of political will to ensure that funding is increased in line with demand, the UK's National Health Service has been …
6 June 2017
First issue of Behavioural Public Policy now available for free online
Behavioural Public Policy is an interdisciplinary and international peer-reviewed journal devoted to behavioural research and its relevance to public policy. The study of human behaviour has recently taken on growing importance within many disciplinary specialties …
31 May 2017
IoT seeks to remake the fundamentals of our everyday lives
Murray Goulden writes in The Conversation that smart homes, wearables and the Internet of Things are indicative of the development of an entire class of technologies seeking to remake the fundamentals of our everyday lives. These …
30 May 2017
Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, planning to embark in Turin, Italy
Today the print edition of the Italian newspaper Repubblica published an article with the title Nesta, i campioni dell’innovazione puntano su Torino. Below is the English translation (with English-language links added by us): Nesta, the champions …
22 April 2017
Boston’s human-centered research to design middle-income housing
In Boston, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is conducting ethnographic, human-centered research to design middle-income housing that reflects people’s lived experiences, reports the Stanford Social Innovation Review. This includes intensive planning sessions in …
13 April 2017
How Silicon Valley is (ab)using behavioral science and nudging
In an extensive review of The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, the book by Michael Lewis on the psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, Tamsin Shaw provides a deeper criticism of the …
11 April 2017
[Book] Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population: Towards Universal Design
Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population: Towards Universal Design By Jeff Johnson and Kate Finn Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, March 2017 258 pages > First chapter Designing User Interfaces for an Aging Population: Towards Universal Design presents age-friendly design guidelines …
8 April 2017
Jeremy Myerson on how social challenges can catalyse design-led innovation in industry
In this recent talk at the RCA in London, writer and academic Jeremy Myerson explores how social challenges can catalyse design-led innovation in industry. Rather than seeing such issues as ageing populations, growing healthcare needs …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

31 March 2017
Experientia guide to Milan Design Week 2017

It’s that time of year again – Milan’s don’t-miss event for the design community is here. If you’re looking to get inspired at Milan Design Week, then check out our top picks for the latest edition, from Experientia’s designers, strategists and partners. Milan might be best known for its busy streets, traditional cafés and world […]

12 January 2017
Experientia’s CITYOPT project awarded prestigious French award for its sustainable development design

Following the 2016 Smart Innovation Award at “FIMBACTE Trophées du Cadre de vie”, the CITYOPT project has once again been recognized, this time in the prestigious French design competition: “Observeur du Design 2017”, in the Service Design category. In June 2016, CITYOPT won the first stage of the Observeur du Design. Now the project has […]

1 December 2016
More on upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities

Last month Putting People First announced the upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities in Nice France. Meanwhile we are pleased to announce the full event agenda (see below). This event will feature professionals from leading research institutes and industry gathering to present key initiatives which combine Energy Efficiency and Service Design […]

29 October 2016
Upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities

Invitation to the International Conference on Design & Sustainable Innovation for SmartCities Nice (France) 8 December 2016 On the 8th December 2016, the CITYOPT project will host an international conference on Design and sustainable innovation for SmartCities, at the Centre Universitaire Méditerranéen, France. An open invitation to attend is offered to people and organisations who […]

28 October 2016
Experientia’s President, Michele Visciòla, panel judge for MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition

The 100&Change is an international competition and a landmark opportunity for thinkers and designers to tackle critical challenges affecting the world. Michele Visciòla will be one of the panel of expert judges who will select which project is worthy of the $100 million grant. 100&Change is the MacArthur Foundation competition – launched this year for […]

5 September 2016
Great engine, but the fuel seems poor. Discussing insight development in corporate marketing

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) contains a lengthy essay, entitled Building an Insights Engine, on how Unilever has created the organizational capabilities to “transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and to turn those insights into strategy.” The article was written by Frank van den Driest and Keith Weed of a […]

See all articles