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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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slide1

Treat users well.  Treat them as if they are human.  Perhaps they are.(With thanks to Emerson)

BRENDA DERVINat

Annual Meeting Central Ohio Chapter American Society for Information Science & Technology Wednesday Evening, June 20th, 2007

Columbus, Ohio

©Brenda Dervin, 2007

slide6

WHY???

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.

slide7

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

slide10

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

slide11

WE ARE UNDERGOING

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

slide12

IT'S FUTURE IS...

NOT WRITTEN&CANNOT BE

slide13

IT INVOLVES A

MIND-BOGGLING MOVE TOWARD

*decentralizationof knowledge and control

*collaborationamid resistance to collaboration*user controlamid user overload

*experimentation amid change with no end in sight

slide15

BUT FORGIVE ME

TONIGHT I WANT TO LOOK BENEATH THESE SURFACESUSERSFOR THE FIRST TIMECAN OPENLY MOVE AGAINST OUR WILL

slide16

WE SHARE A COMMON STRUGGLE*no matter what our field

WE THINK EXPERTISE MATTERSBUT IT MATTERS only to those to whom it matters

slide17

THIS IS NOT A NEW STRUGGLE

*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

slide18

AS A RESULT....

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]

slide19

BUT IN ACTUALITY

USERS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN*recalcitrant*uppity*disdainfulBECAUSE SURVIVAL DEMANDS IT LIFE IS NOT WRITTEN

BUT WE HAVE TOO OFTEN CALLED USERS *lazy*ignorant*illiterate

slide20

WE HAVE DEVELOPED EDIFICES OF EXPERTISE

BASED ON MODERNIST PRINCIPLES OF KNOWLEDGE

LEAVING BEHIND and MARGINALIZING THE HUMAN SIDE OF BEING HUMAN

slide21

THIS HAS LED TO

STRIKING TECHNICAL SUCCESSES

amid

DEEP HUMAN FAILURES

THANKS TO:Toulmin, COSMOPOLIS: The Hidden agenda of modernity, 1990

slide22

I WILL ARGUE TONIGHT

THAT AMONG OUR DEEP HUMAN FAILURES

are

*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

slide33

FROM THE USER'S POINT OF VIEW

WE HAVE KNOWN FOR A LONG TIME THAT....

slide35

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

slide37

SO DO WE

BUT FOR US OUR*dreams*muddles*struggles*obligations*needs

INVOLVE STRUCTURES & CONTENTSOF EXPERTISE

slide39

THE BIGGEST GAPSBETWEEN USERSIS NOT BETWEEN USER SUB-GROUPS

but between

EXPERTSandEVERYDAY USERS[Baer]

slide43

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

slide44

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

slide46

AS PRACTITIONERS WE WORK IN AND FOR SYSTEMS*service structures*interface designs*normative practicesBASED ON A HOST OF UNWORKABLE ASSUMPTIONS

slide47

AND STRUGGLE DAILY WITH

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

slide48

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

slide49

...USERS ARE NOT WELL PREDICTED IN DEMOGRAPHIC AND TRAIT BOXES, BUT RATHER BASED ON SYSTEM-ENCOUNTERING MOMENTS OF NEEDING AND ACTING

slide52

...USERS FIND INFORMATION ALMOST ANYWHERE AT ANY TIMEIN UNEXPECTED PLACES

THEY ARE LIKE MARTIANS

slide53

...USERS DO NOT SEPARATE* INFORMATION*EMOTIONS*FEELINGS*INTUITIONS INTO SEPARATE BOXES LIKE EXPERTS DO

slide54

...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

slide56

THOSE OF US DOING COMMUNICATION STUDIES FOR DECADES HAVE LONG KNOWN...

...THAT THE LAW OF LEAST EFFORT ALWAYS APPLIES

slide58

...THAT USERS -- EVEN EXPERTS -- TURN FIRST TO FAMILY, KIN, PEERS, CO-WORKERSBECAUSE THEY ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE

*RESPONSIVE*TRUSTED*RELEVANT

slide59

...THAT FLEXIBLE TECHNOLOGIES THAT FILL THE SAME NEEDS AS INFORMAL NETSWILL BE USED

AND

MULTIPLE PATHS WILL BE USED IF

*THEY HELP & COMPLEMENTand

*THE LAW OF LEAST EFFORT PERMITS IT

slide60

...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

slide65

A SEVENTHCOMMUNICATION LOGIC

7. BUILDING SYSTEMS COMMUNICATIVELY

slide66

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

  • IN MOST GENERAL TERMS:adding a VERBING interface to:
  • *our research with users and constituencies*our designs of system structures, practices, procedures*our interactions with: each other, other fields, across practice<--->research, our users and other constituencies...
slide68

WHAT DOES VERBING MEAN?

  • MOSTLY WE NOWNOUN
  • *demographic & trait characteristics of users....*organizational roles & ranks ...*domains: subjects, task areas....*media & channel packages
slide69

BUT

  • 35 YEARS OF RESEARCH HAS SHOWN
  • NOUNS ARE NOT ENOUGH
slide70

NOUNS MAP THE EXTERNAL WORLD

ALSO NEED TO MAP THE HUMAN SIDEOF SENSE-MAKING

slide71

WITH "CATEGORIES" FREE OF OUR NOUN WORLDS

FREE OF THE WORLDS OF OUR EXPERTISE

slide72

A BRIEF TOUR OF A 35-YEAR EFFORT TO MAP HUMAN SENSE-MAKING

...for user research...for dialogue...for system design & service

slide73

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

slide74

THESE EFFORTS HAVEStarted by taking everything said above as a given

Searched for human VERBING universals of *sense-making and sense-unmaking

slide75

*Not trying to predict people in advance

*Rather identifying universals in the sense of mapping potential contingencies of human sense-making

slide80

A SIMPLE EXAMPLE

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?

slide81

WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED

  • *there are systematic patterns in these situated based contingencies between...
    • -how sense-makers see their movements through situations as blocked, the emotions they feel at specific moments;and-sources (even documents) used, helps sought, evaluations applied
  • *the most asked and most frequently unanswered questions sense-makers bring to all situations are WHY questions
slide82

*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")

slide83

we need to systematically build in ways to cross the bridges between

    • -us and them-systems and users
  • with HUMAN overlays
  • THE NOUNS OF SYSTEMS, DOMAINS, STRUCTURES
  • COUPLED WITH
  • THE VERBS OF SENSE-MAKING
  • WORKING TOGETHER
slide84

JUST A FEW EXAMPLES

*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

slide85

MOST IMPORTANT

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...]

slide86

WEB ACCESS

*e-audio file*power-point

*bibliography of further readings

http://communication.sbs.ohio-state.edu/sense-making/co_asist07.html