Defining the topic for this blog has been an on-going challenge for me since I started blogging in December 2004. And that is reflected in the way my blog has evolved over the years.
Starting out as a simple way of sharing my experiences as an exchange student in Manchester in 2005, the blog evolved into a more solid online presence, eventually hosting the observations and ideas gathered throughout my fieldwork and thesis writing.
Following my graduation, I redefined my blog as my outboard brain, borrowing an expression from Cory Doctorow, a random stream of whatever caught my interest or my fancy at any given time.
Now that I’ve started out on my own, I find it is time to define the topic of this blog anew, and much more clearly this time. Inspired by Josh Porter’s advice on small-company blogs I’ll focus on the fields in which I work, and on how the developments in these fields can make a difference.
Social software is the fuzzy field sometimes known as social media, social tools, or lately even social business. Fundamentally, it is software tools and services on computers or mobile devices that support social relations, sharing, collaboration and collective action.
People-centered design is a strain within another fuzzy field often called user experience design, design research, user-centered design or even user-driven innovation. But all of these strains still draw upon the same mother lode: The notion that it is vital to understand understand the practices, motivations and needs of the potential users in order to design new products and services that can offer lasting value.
What both of these fields have in common is the fact that they are opening up new avenues of user involvement in their own way:
Social software facilitates involvement by offering people tools to share, discuss and solve issues – either directly among one another or indirectly by engaging with an organisation dedicated to solving those issues.
People-centred design creates involvement by engaging with people in their everyday lives, exploring and analysing the issues they face and building on those experiences in design solutions.
So, to sum up: I write about user involvement through people-centered design and social software. Stay tuned for more.