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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Technical Report: Participatory Design: The Third Space in HCI

Participatory Design: The Third Space in HCI

Technical Report #:10-10
Author(s): Michael J Muller, Allison Druin


A Collaborative User Experience Technical Report: more about CUE...

This chapter surveys methods, techniques, and practices in Participatory Design (PD) that can lead to hybrid experiences – that is, practices that take place neither in the users’ domain, nor in the technology developers’ domain, but in an “in-between” region that shares attributes of both spaces. Recent work in cultural theory claims that this “in-between” region, or “third space,” is a fertile environment in which participants can combine diverse knowledges into new insights and plans for action. This can include articulating, clarifying, and informing the needs of themselves as individuals, and of the people they are connected to or responsible for – e.g., depending on who the user is, their organizations, institutions, products, and services, or their classmates, playmates, families, and schools, or other people with similar situations, circumstances, challenges, or who face similar kinds of social stigma. Important attributes of third space experiences include challenging assumptions, learning reciprocally, and creating new ideas, which emerge through negotiation and co-creation of identities, working languages, understandings, and relationships, and polyvocal (many-voiced) discussions across and through differences. The chapter focuses on participatory practices that share these attributes, including: site-selection of PD work; workshops; story-collecting and storytelling through text, photography, and drama; games for analysis and design; and the co-creation of descriptive and functional prototypes.

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