In user experience we talk about personas and mental models a lot. We need to understand worldviews – or epistemes as Foucault called them – of the people we design products for, and with. I’ve not come across a critical look at the influence of digital workers’ worldviews – from within our community – on the products we make. Considering the state of (some) digital products unleashed on unsuspecting users, this is something I’d argue needs attention. Alain de Botton puts it succinctly:
Never underestimate people’s dexterity at seeing things from their own point of view. 1
Going into projects, our own points of view need scrutiny first; we need awareness of the impact that our points of view have on the work we do, and be prepared to shift.
connect communities and they offer learning opportunities in their own right.
a boundary interaction is usually an experience of being exposed to a foreign competence.
Boundaries are alive with learning possibility, but they can be challenging places to negotiate, which is why we employ, what Wenger calls, boundary objects. From a UX perspective these include, but are not restricted to, deliverables, and we employ them as understanding traps 3. But the existence of these objects present challenges of their own – Wenger writes that:
Boundary objects do not necessarily bridge across boundaries because they may be misinterpreted or interpreted blindly.
And this has implications for design quality, which is why critical awareness of our interactions at boundaries are important.
On one side was the State with its deep Calvinist roots asserting the unchanging nature of man and race, of man created immediately and in his present form, rejecting evolution, adhering to belief in the rigid and unalterable patterns of human behaviour; fixed laws, the virtues of obedience, attainment as related to hereditary not environment. On the other side: the vision of man as endowed with creative and developing gifts, the ability to learn and change; free-developing, self-fulfilling man, black and non-black.
Whenever I reach an apparent unbridgeable chasm of divergent stakeholder worldviews this paragraph comes to mind. The question is how do we move forward at boundaries where both sides operate from entrenched positions? 4
What we need is language to bridge epistemic divides, where opposing sides of the divide re-write themselves when building bridges to the other side. And in doing so, both sides learn and grow.
Etienne Wenger (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Sage Publications. ↩
Understanding traps: as designers we work toward achieving shared understanding between people with different points of view. When we achieve shared understanding, it could be viewed as ‘certainty’, but it is a space we need to engage with critically. ↩