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Prototypes in design: materializing futures

By Alex Wilkie


The two excerpts that follow are drawn from my Ph.D. research User Assemblages in Design: An Ethnographic Study. The thesis is an examination of the role of multiple users in user-centered design (UCD) processes and is based on a six-month ethnographic field study of designers employed to apply the principles and practices of UCD as part of the research and development efforts of a multinational microprocessor manufacturer. It is written from the perspective of science and technology studies, in particular developments in actor-network theory, and draws on the notion of the assemblage from the work of Deleuze and Guattari. The central argument of this thesis is that multiple users are assembled along with the new technologies whose design they resource, as well as with new configurations of socio- cultural life that they bring into view. ‘Excerpt One’ forms part of an introduction into an empirical study of a health and fitness prototype being designed to address the increasing prevalence of obesity in North American and Western Europe. Excerpt two is drawn from the conclusion of my thesis and points to how prototyping, within user-centered and participatory design practices, can be understood as a material and formal method for managing the future

Publisher: ARC Studio
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

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