Exploring the Rhetoric on Representing the User: Discourses on User Involvement in Academia and the IT Artifact Product Development Industry

Exploring the Rhetoric on Representing the User: Discourses on User Involvement in Academia and the IT Artifact Product Development Industry

Netta Iivari (University of Oulu, Finland)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/jthi.2006100104
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Abstract

Users should be involved in information technology (IT) artifact development, but it is often difficult and rare, especially in the development of commercial IT artifacts for external use. This paper critically examines discursive construction of user involvement in academia and in the IT artifact product development industry. First, three academic discourses on user involvement are identified. Then, discursive construction of user involvement is explored in four IT artifact product development organizations, in which user involvement is indirect and labeled as usability work. Five discourses on usability work are identified. They are related to the academic discourses on user involvement, and some of them are criticized (Asaro, 2000) as“forms of technological colonialism,” merely “silencing the users” instead of “giving them a voice.” It is recommended that especially the human-computer interaction (HCI) community should carefully reflect on what kinds of discourses on user involvement it advocates and deems as legitimate.

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