The purpose of this blog is to explore a concept closely related to “user-centered design” (UCD) that I am calling “designer-centered use” (DCU). The main objective of the project is to gain a better understanding of how the systems my team designs, not primarily by observing or interviewing our users/customers, but by becoming a real-world user of those very systems myself. One of my central aims is to use grounded theory (GT) to construct a working DCU-based theory that compliments R. Johnson’s “user-centered technology.”
To do this I have set up one of our self-service vending kiosks in the employee break room at our office building, and have stocked it with healthy beverages and snack, which I currently order from KeHE, one of the major natural products suppliers. I call this experiment Food For Thought, and it provides a relatively authentic vending/retail context within which I have immersed myself in an effort to gain new dimensions of empathy with our users beyond what is possible through the observational methods of participatory ethnography.
In doing so, I have essentially created what I refer to as a “Healthy Micro Market“, an emerging business opportunity for natural products retailers and co-op grocers which I elaborate on in a blog I did for Whole Foods Magazine here:
So far this is blog (www.usercenteredtechnology.wordpress.com) is turning out to be a mixture of strategic business observations and academic interpretations of the activities I’m undertaking as I manage the break room, which I do primarily after hours. I currently serve as Director of Design at ECRS where my team is responsible for the look, feel, and user-side behavior of the products we make, including the self-service vending kiosk I’m using to run our employee break room.
I’m also pursuing a doctorate in technical communication to supplement my 14 years of professional experience at ECRS. One of my primary aims with this blog is to gain a better understanding of where these two domains of knowledge and know-how (episteme and techne) intersect, and to explore how their co-existence can inform and compliment each other in mutually beneficial ways.