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Susanne Bødker

Past experiences and recent challenges in participatory design research

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In 1987, I went to a conference on a rather remote farm in a rather remote corner of Finland. Here, most of the Scandinavian information systems and human-computer interaction community was gathered among Finnish lakes and smoke saunas. I had recently finished my Ph.D. thesis, which would later be published internationally (Bødker, 1991). This thesis helped set the scene for what came to be known as second-generation human-computer interaction (HCI). I came to this topic with a background in early Scandinavian participatory design. My sources of theoretical inspiration were, among others, Leont'ev, whose works I had learned about from Danish colleagues in psychology - Henrik Poulsen, Jens Mammen, Klaus Bærentsen, Mariane Hedegaard, and others. Other sources included the recently published books of Winograd and Flores (1986), and Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1986), which served as vehicles for a joint study circle between psychology and computer science. In two essays (Bannon & Bødker, 1991; Bertelsen & Bødker, 2002a), we summarized the state of our concerns at the time: Many of the early advanced user interfaces assumed that the users were the designers themselves, and accordingly built on an assumption of a generic user, without concern for qualifications, work environment, division of work, and so on In validating findings and designs, there was a heavy focus on novice users, whereas everyday use by experienced users and concerns for the development of expertise were hardly addressed. Detailed task analysis was seen as the starting point for most user interface design, whereas much of the Scandinavian research had pointed out how limited explicit task descriptions were for capturing actual actions and conditions for these in use (Ehn & Kyng, 1984). The idealized models created through task analysis failed to capture the complexity and contingency of real-life action. […]

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLearning and Expanding with Activity Theory
Number of pages39
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication year1 Jan 2009
ISBN (print)9780521760751
ISBN (Electronic)9780511809989
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

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