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Treat users well. Treat them as if they are human. Perhaps they are . (With thanks to Emerson) BRENDA DERVIN at Annual Meeting Central Ohio Chapter American Society for Information Science & Technology Wednesday Evening, June 20th, 2007 Columbus, Ohio ©Brenda Dervin, 2007
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Treat users well. Treat them as if they are human. Perhaps they are.(With thanks to Emerson)
Annual Meeting Central Ohio Chapter American Society for Information Science & Technology Wednesday Evening, June 20th, 2007
©Brenda Dervin, 2007
Treat cats well. Treat them as if they are human. Cats KNOW they are.
ALPHA CAT Ariel
Treat users well. Treat them as if they are human. Perhaps they are.
EMERSON'S ORIGINALTreat people well.Treat them as if they are real.Perhaps they are.
40 YEAR OBSESSIONHow to change systems so users & non-usersby whatever names we call them*patrons *users *audiences*citizens *patients *employees*customers *viewers *readers *clients *students *non-users ARE AT THE HEARTS OF OUR SYSTEMS
INCLUDING* our procedures for studying them*our ways of intersecting with them*our structures for serving them
A CONFESSION* Given many ideas for what I should talk about tonight by different people-Web 2.0-Second Life-the OSU IMLS user study-the dialogue between 3 fields project-Sense-Making Methodology
I AM GOING TO BE BOTHOBEDIENT& DISOBEDIENT
THE LARGESTFASTEST MOVINGPERHAPS MOST CHAOTICREVOLUTION IN THE HUMAN SITUATIONIN HISTORY
WITH NO END IN SIGHTIT WILL CONTINUE UNTIL *the micro-chip cannot get any smallerand/or*the interests of those driving the revolution are curtailed
NOT WRITTEN&CANNOT BE
MIND-BOGGLING MOVE TOWARD
*decentralizationof knowledge and control
*collaborationamid resistance to collaboration*user controlamid user overload
*experimentation amid change with no end in sight
TONIGHT I WANT TO LOOK BENEATH THESE SURFACESUSERSFOR THE FIRST TIMECAN OPENLY MOVE AGAINST OUR WILL
WE THINK EXPERTISE MATTERSBUT IT MATTERS only to those to whom it matters
*it permeates the entire history of our understandings of users and audiences
BUT*it is hard for us to look at*it feels like we will lose something if we acknowledge it
WE ARE ASTONISHED AT WHAT IS HAPPENING ALL AROUND US
*chat-lines, blogs, wikis*second life and the creation of other virtual lives*web 2.0 and the proliferating uses of e-technologies for decentralization, user-control, and going-with-the-flow *the apparent "flight from expertise" [THANKS TO MICHAEL GORMAN, FORMER PRESIDENT, ALA]
USERS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN*recalcitrant*uppity*disdainfulBECAUSE SURVIVAL DEMANDS IT LIFE IS NOT WRITTEN
BUT WE HAVE TOO OFTEN CALLED USERS *lazy*ignorant*illiterate
BASED ON MODERNIST PRINCIPLES OF KNOWLEDGE
LEAVING BEHIND and MARGINALIZING THE HUMAN SIDE OF BEING HUMAN
STRIKING TECHNICAL SUCCESSES
DEEP HUMAN FAILURES
THANKS TO:Toulmin, COSMOPOLIS: The Hidden agenda of modernity, 1990
THAT AMONG OUR DEEP HUMAN FAILURES
*a history of building information/communication systems that either pander to or ignore the human side of human beings
*an inability to understand why most mandated users historically circumvent, reinvent, co-opt, resist, and/or struggle with our systems and rarely behave the ways experts expect they should or predict they will
WE HAVE KNOWN FOR A LONG TIME THAT....
USERS LIVE -- EVEN WE EXPERTS -- IN THE WORLD OF THE EVERYDAY WHERE ...the center does not hold [W.B. YEATS]...there is no absolute certainty...choice is obligatory & error inevitable [EPSTEIN, NY REVIEW OF BOOKS]*expertise is always suspect*information & emotion merge
BUT FOR US OUR*dreams*muddles*struggles*obligations*needs
INVOLVE STRUCTURES & CONTENTSOF EXPERTISE
detour to system
usual life path
WHOOPS, NOT WORKING....FIND WAYS TO DESIGN BETTER INFORMATION PACKAGES FOR DIFFERENT PEOPLE BY PUTTING PEOPLEIN BOXES3. DEMOGRAPHY & TRAIT BOXES4. LIFE STYE, INTEREST, SITUATION BOXES5. CULTURE & COMMUNITY BOXES
WHOOPS, NOT WORKING....6. LET SPONTANEOUS COMMUNICATION FLOWTHIS IS THE DECENTRALIZING THAT NOW SEEMS TO BE TAKING OVER
WHY?IN THE ABSENCE OF US BEING COMMUNICATIVE, THIS SPONTANEITY IS COMMUNICATIVE EVEN IF A CACOPHONOUS TOWER OF BABEL
THAT BREEDS REPLICATION OF HEGEMONY & STEREOTYPING
BUT THEY ARE NOT ENOUGH
AS PRACTITIONERS WE WORK IN AND FOR SYSTEMS*service structures*interface designs*normative practicesBASED ON A HOST OF UNWORKABLE ASSUMPTIONS
A BIG CONTRADICTION....
*on the one hand: the needs
and demands of the system
*on the other the fact that these are
NOT genuinely people-oriented
THOSE OF US DOING USER STUDIES FOR DECADES HAVE LONG KNOWN THAT......USERS SEARCH AND IN WAYS THAT SERVE THEIR SITUATIONS & CONTEXTSAS THEY SEE THEM
...USERS ARE NOT WELL PREDICTED IN DEMOGRAPHIC AND TRAIT BOXES, BUT RATHER BASED ON SYSTEM-ENCOUNTERING MOMENTS OF NEEDING AND ACTING
...USERS REACH OUT & USE ANYTHING LABELED AS EXPERTISE ONLY WHEN THEY SEE ITS VALUE ON THEIR TERMS
...USERS ARE FAR MORE SAVVY ABOUT THE NEED TO HUMBLE INFORMATION THAN EXPERTS ARE
...USERS FIND INFORMATION ALMOST ANYWHERE AT ANY TIMEIN UNEXPECTED PLACES
THEY ARE LIKE MARTIANS
...USERS DO NOT SEPARATE* INFORMATION*EMOTIONS*FEELINGS*INTUITIONS INTO SEPARATE BOXES LIKE EXPERTS DO
...USERS DO NOT TRY UNDERSTAND HOW EXPERT SYSTEMS WORK UNLESS THEY ABSOLUTELY MUST...
WHY SHOULD THEY BECAUSE WHAT MATTERS THERE DOESN'T MATTER IN THEIR WORLDS
THOSE OF US DOING COMMUNICATION STUDIES FOR DECADES HAVE LONG KNOWN...
...THAT THE LAW OF LEAST EFFORT ALWAYS APPLIES
...THAT USERS ALWAYS REINVENT THINGS TO FIT THEIR NEEDS OR CIRCUMVENT THINGS THAT DO NOT
...THAT USERS -- EVEN EXPERTS -- TURN FIRST TO FAMILY, KIN, PEERS, CO-WORKERSBECAUSE THEY ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE
...THAT FLEXIBLE TECHNOLOGIES THAT FILL THE SAME NEEDS AS INFORMAL NETSWILL BE USED
MULTIPLE PATHS WILL BE USED IF
*THEY HELP & COMPLEMENTand
*THE LAW OF LEAST EFFORT PERMITS IT
...BUT BOTTOM-LINE IT IS NOT THE CHARACTERISTICS OF CHANNELS OR EXPERTS THAT MATTER...
IT IS HOW MUCH AND HOW ENCOUNTERS WITH CHANNELS AND EXPERTS HELP
7. BUILDING SYSTEMS COMMUNICATIVELY
ALSO NEED TO MAP THE HUMAN SIDEOF SENSE-MAKING
FREE OF THE WORLDS OF OUR EXPERTISE
...for user research...for dialogue...for system design & service
DRAWING HERE ON PROJECTS*conducted since 1972 in multiple countriese.g. Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ecuador,Finland, Holland, Kenya, Malaysia, Peru, New Zealand, Sri Lanka
*funded by multiple agenciese.g., *California State Library *National Cancer Institute *National Library of Medicine *Institute of Museum & Library Services *US Office of Educationusing Dervin's Sense-Making Methodology as framework for *research - interviewing & analysis*dialogue within & between*system design & service
Searched for human VERBING universals of *sense-making and sense-unmaking
*Rather identifying universals in the sense of mapping potential contingencies of human sense-making
THE REFERENCE INTERVIEW[Dervin & Dewdney, 1986, neutral questioning ---- > sense-making questioning]
HOW TO FIND OUT WHAT PEOPLEREALLY WANT, NEED. THINK
e.g.*Do you have books on renaissance painters?*Do you have a copy of THE BLACK STALLION?*What's the law on building fences?
*why questions are, of course, the hardest to get "definitive" answers to; sense-makers intuitively know this
*when sense-makers get access to informational aides that navigate the conflicts, diversities, and contradictions between "informations", if these are based on the human dimensions of sense-making they gobble them up
*not all diversities need to be represented: 5 seems enough if selected well
*understanding what systems have to offer or even what experts in different terrains (practice vs research) or fields (LIS, COMM, HCI) think requires a human interface
*sense-makers internally argue with information offered to them arrogantly as truth but they hear when involved in dialogue
*when we talk to sense-makers in the normative ways we are used to we get highly distorted pictures: we get the outside; not the inside ("spontaneity captures mostly hegemony")
*the reference interview*internal sense-making aides that allow people to bring to consciousness the unarticulated
*sense-making based doors for entry into systems coupled with the current noun doors
*chats and discussions in which no time is allowed for discussing whose right
*attending to failures (worst practices) and successes (best practices) and how these link to each other and to movings through time-space
HERE I END BY VOTINGcreating informational interfaces -- of all kinds -- that allow sense-makers to navigate the chaos of the information marketplace
BY USING HUMAN PRINCIPLESNOT*THE answer*THE right way*THE best practicebutALTERNATIVES CAST IN HUMAN DIMENSIONS*I did this because
*It helped me this way*I struggled with....
A CALL FOR HUMANIZED INFORMATION MEDIATION [Dervin drawing on Bruce, Lynch, Wilson...]
*bibliography of further readings