From users to citizens: Some thoughts on designing for polity and civics
Foth, Marcus, Tomitsch, Martin, Satchell, Christine, & Haeusler, M. Hank (2015) From users to citizens: Some thoughts on designing for polity and civics. In OzCHI '15 Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Australian Special Interest Group for Computer Human Interaction, ACM, Melbourne, VIC, pp. 623-633.
This paper presents an essay aimed at prompting broad discussion crucial in keeping the interaction design discourse fresh, critical, and in motion. We trace the changing role of people who have advanced from consumers to producers, from stationary office workers to mobile urban nomads, from passive members of the plebs to active instigators of change. Yet, interaction designers often still refer to them only as ‘users.’ We follow some of the historic developments from the information superhighway to the smart city in order to provide the backdrop in front of which we critically analyse three core areas. First, the issue of echo chambers and filter bubbles in social media results in a political polarisation that jeopardises the formation of a functioning public sphere. Second, pretty lights and colourful façades in media architecture are increasingly making way for situated installations and interventions fostering community engagement. And third, civic activism is often reduced to forms of slacktivism. We synthesise our discussion to propose ‘citizen-ability’ as an alternative goal for interaction designers to aspire to in order to create new polities and civics for a better quality of life.
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