Ethics and HCI

Ethics and HCI

John Knight (University of Central England, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-937-3.ch018
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The goal of HCI research and design has been to deliver universal usability. Universal usability is making interfaces to technology that everyone can access and use. However, this goal has been challenged in recent times. Critics of usability (e.g., Eliot, 2002) have argued that usability “dumbs down” the user-experience to the lowest common denominator. The critics propose that focusing on ease of use can ignore the sophistication of expert users and consumers. At the same time, researchers have begun to investigate suprafunctional qualities of design including pleasure (Jordan, 2000), emotion (Norman, 2003), and fun. While recent discussions in HCI have bought these questions to the surfaces, they relate to deeper philosophical issues about the moral implications of design. Molotch (2003, p. 7), states that: Decisions about what precisely to make and acquire, and when, where, and how to do it involve moral judgements about what a man is, what a woman is, how a man ought to treat his aged parents…how he himself should grow old, gracefully or disgracefully, and so on. One response to this moral dilemma is to promote well-being rather than hedonism as an ethical design goal.

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