January 31, 2008

Human-Centered Design Metaphors?

I appreciate what James David is writing on design over at The Groundswell Blog. Today he looks at the post The Revolution Will Not Be Designed by Alix Rule in his post Designing the Revolution.

Social justice inherently seeks systemic change to redress oppression. Rule’s objection to design thinking is that it serves as a”post-ideology” ideology, one which is stripped of considerations for “the long process by which consensus is built—a.k.a. politics.” Her case is that:

In particular, design metaphors obscure the ideological—and political—decisions involved in tackling societal issues. Depending on your perspective, “drunk driving” can be a symptom of some broader systemic failure (from un-walkable suburbs to deficient public education), a lapse of individual responsibility, or a right to be defended. The solution to the problem is inseparable from its conception. Conceiving of global ills as design challenges may sometimes be in order, but only when a consensus exists on goals, budgets and relevant values. Such is rarely the case.


Reading Jame's thought-provoking analysis reminded of a a distinction that Rudiger Leidner of NATKO made in a 2006 presentation "Tourism Accessible for All in Europe."

The distinction was between US conceptualizations of Universal Design and a European reformulation known as Design for All:

"...the main difference between the D[esign]F[or]A[all] idea and similar approaches such as “Universal Design” is that the targeted users should be involved in the process of product development."

Posted by rollingrains at January 31, 2008 02:19 PM