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Keynote speakers

This is a list of the abstracts and biographies of Keynote speakers in the Cultural Usability Seminar 24.4.0, the program of the seminar is available here

Lucy Suchman
Located accountabilities in technology production


This paper explores the relevance of feminist reconstructions of subject/object relations, or what Helen Verran has named ontic/epistemic politics, for the development of alternative practices of technology production and use. I take as my starting place the working relations that make up the design and use of technical systems. Working relations are understood as sociomaterial connections that sustain the visible and invisible work required to construct coherent technologies and put them into use. I outline the boundaries that characterize current relations of development and use, and the reconfigurations required to transform them. Three contrasting positions for design - the view from nowhere, detached intimacy, and located accountability - are discussed as alternative bases for a politics of professional design practice. From the position of located accountability, I close by sketching aspects of what a feminist politics and associated practices of technology production could be.

Lucy Suchman is Professor in the Sociology Department at Lancaster University. She received a Ph.D. in Social/Cultural Anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley, and spent twenty years as a researcher at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. Her research has centered on the sociomaterial practices that make up technical systems, explored through critical studies and through experimental, interdisciplinary and participatory interventions in new technology design.

Kari Kuutti
Hunting for the lost user


The concept of usability is directly connected with the concept of user. This has, however, meant very different things in different times. The paper traces the changes in the conception what the user is and what is user's role in system development through the last 25 years in the areas of information systems design, human-computer interaction and computer-supported cooperative work. This development has not been linear or straightforward, on the contrary, but a certain evolution from a passive informant in the process towards an active actor and cooperative constructor of one's own lifeworld can be identified.

Kari Kuutti is a professor of Human-Computer Interaction and Group Technology in the Department of Information Processing Science at the University of Oulu. His research interest lies in the relationship between humans, computer systems, and organizations. He has been working mainly in the areas of Human-Computer Interaction, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Information Systems helping to construct methods to develope usable and useful computer technology.

Pelle Ehn
The collective designer


Modern design was born with the Bauhaus in the beginning of the last century. It was a great political project with a background in the radicalm and revolutionary movements of that time in Europe. The Bauhaus designer was a collective designer and his design manifestos envisioned a new unit of art and technology in the service of the people. However, as all Utopias also the Bauhaus showed to be full of contradictions. Transformed into modernism and functionalism it produced rational living contexts of regular geometric shapes far from the dreams of the people that had to occupy them. Later we have had other collective designers: Scandinavian design, socio-technical design, participatory design, etc. All with great espoused politics as collective designers, with democratic dreams, and lost Utopias. The contemporary designers in the information age rather participate in hybrid networks of mind and matter than make modern products. Could this participation be carried out as professional wisdom and artistry taking the form of collective design as an anxious act of political love? Is this yet another espoused vain dream of democratic utopism lacking concrete power analysis, or is there action space in the new networks for the reflective collective designer to participate in shaping a new unit of art and technology in the service of humanity?

Pelle Ehn is professor at the School of Arts and Communication at Malmö University, and one of the founders of the school and of the Interactive Institute, the associated national research institute. For the last 15 years his research has been focused on design and digital media. His books and papers in journals and international conferences on the subject include Computers and Democracy (1987), Work-Oriented Design of Computer Artifacts (1988), Scandinavian Design - on skill and participation (1992) and Manifesto for a Digital Bauhaus (1998).

Richard Coyne
Digital consumption: from the market direct to the home


The burgeoning of the industrial age was visited by various stoic, epicurian and academic reincarnations, through Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, Thomas Carlisle, and John Ruskin. The antagonism they provoked persists in contemporary discourses surrounding digital media and its economic aspects. An examination of these ancient legacies, and the spatial metaphors on which they drew, sheds light on design with and for digital media, in ways other than those offered by the prevalent Marxist critique. We follow Aristotle in settling on the origins of economic theory in the home. The home also provides the latest target for e-commerce: as the presumed site of both unmediated consumption and the amateur entrepreneur.

Professor of Architectural Computing and Head of the Department of Achitecture at the University of Edinburgh, Richard Coyne is the author of Designing Information Technoloy in the Postmodern Age : From Method to Metaphor, 1995, and Technoromanticism : Digital Narrative, Holism, and the Romance of the Real, 1999, both published by The MIT Press. Currently he is engaged in research on e-commerce and design and economic theory.