In class we talked about Marxism, as a theory which tries to break the ‘identity’ of the individual and create differences in the society.

A major concern which we were discussing was the “box” ( the application form box we discussed in the class) or the stereotype (race, gender, profession, age etc.,). For interaction designers to create anything which overcomes this stereotyping or putting people in a box is a serious challenge but an important one, at least based on the class discussion especially since no interaction designer would & should like to separate people based on socially construct phenomenon.

One tool I thought which might be interesting for interaction designers is to create ambiguous design. From JW’s post , ambiguity as a quality of design for Lowgren is explained as below,

Ambiguity makes easy interpretation impossible by creating situations in which people are forced to participate to make meaning of what they experience. The ambiguous design sets the scene for meaning-making but does not prescribe the interpretation. The task of making the ambiguous simulation comprehensible befalls the human actor, which may lead to inherent pleasure as well as deeper conceptual appropriation of the design.

So if an interaction designer creates an ambiguous design, he/she can try avoiding the problems of stereotyping designs with bias. The design will have different meanings for each viewer/user and it’s their interpretation which will determine the use and usefulness of the artifact or object.

Now, Nelson & Stolterman, in ‘Design way’ talk about how design is always about creating the ultimate particular. This means for a designs should be created by considering a specific person at a specific time. By this, I think it’s fair enough to assume the person’s race, “gender”, political views at that time, their societal & personal needs etc., must be taken into consideration by the designer. Now if the designer creates designs as a response to the people’s needs, then that generally creates the designs reflecting the user’s race, gender & related views.

Taking a look at how we want designers to create something ambiguous (or breaking the stereotypes) as well as take into account their users views & values (political, social, cultural, etc.), the designer definitely has to step back and use ‘designerly’ judgment to create designs.

I’m open to hear what are the other approaches to handle this situation.