Today I am speaking with Susanne Bødker, professor of Human Computer Interaction at the Computer Science Department, University of Aarhus. She has been one of the founding mothers of Participatory Design and has focused throughout her career on thinking about the impacts of technology on people and society at large.
She coined the term 3rd Wave HCI to designate the shift that occurred when computers left the workplace and became pervasive in all aspects of the human condition. We start our conversation talking about how a world that is saturated with digital technology of all sorts is taking this to the next level. Susanne questions the purpose behind this and points to the prevailing technological opportunism, stating "many things can be done, but we could also easily do without it."
She shares some interesting stories from an energy project she was involved in and how sensors and data helped them to discover the biggest saving potentials. Tellingly, it turned out that cooking together in a communal kitchen would have the biggest impact. We speak about how maybe technology can sometimes help you find out something, but is never uninstalled afterwards.
We talk at length about how the idea of participation in design processes can respond to the amount of technology in our lives. While we had mechanisms for participation in the work place, for example, we lack those on a bigger, societal scale. New modes and channels of participation will need to be developed, some of which may well be mediated by technology. To extend participation into use times, we may also need to look into making technology much more configurable, adaptable, to be appropriated and tinkered with. We end speaking about the political conditions that would need to be established to make such participation possible as it seems hard to imagine that these things could happen under the regime of a Silicon Valley mindset.
This work is part of the Research and Education Award I received from the Next Generation Internet Initiative and has been made possible by the support of the Department of Business Development and Technology at Aarhus University
Music by To Rococo Rot (I Am In The World With You)