User experience as legitimacy trap

The central charge to HCI is to nurture and sustain human dignity and flourishing. Why are HCI researchers and practitioners now on the wrong side of many of the problematic developments in the contemporary technology landscape?

User experience as legitimacy trap
by Paul Dourish (University of California, Irvine)
What would it mean to be able to undertake HCI in a way that made questions of ethics and values central?

The central charge to HCI is to nurture and sustain human dignity and flourishing. […] Why are HCI researchers and practitioners now on the wrong side of many of the problematic developments in the contemporary technology landscape? Why is it so challenging for us to reformulate the objectives of our discipline and the central values of our educational programs? It is because those were not the basis upon which we argued for the legitimacy of our practice. By legitimizing HCI and its role in technology production in terms of user experience, user delight, and user acceptance—which were only ever means toward other ends—we have ceded the space from which we could argue for the considerations that were actually at the center of the discipline’s ambitions.

(The article is published in the November-December issue of the bimonthly ACM Interactions magazine.)