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Published on Mar 8, 2013
Is There Anyone Out There? How to Involve the User in the Invention of IT
What is the difference between Harry Potter and Facebook? Both are products with obvious qualities that attract millions of fans. Both were neither the only ones in their category, nor the first. There were hundreds of Harry Potter style fantasy books which went hardly noticed before and since, and there have been many social networks that did not capture such engagement (remember Friendster, anyone?). In fact, both share the fate of cultural objects: either block buster, art piece, every day product. The destiny of cultural products is a highly volatile one; companies try to limit the risks by polling potential users. Potential customers answer such questions as what can be done with the new device, software, interface, etc. These questions do not address the issue of the cultural integration or viral adoption of these products. Can deeper social science and human factors queries help predict the value of viral products? I created the Codesign and Media Studies Lab (codesignlab.wp.institut-telecom.fr) with two objectives: first, to study the characteristics of these technologies; and second, to develop specific design methodologies for the creation of iconic, culture-shaping information technologies. In this talk I will present examples and some of the methods we have developed with our dozens of collaborations to accompany engineers and researchers in the process of IT invention.
Annie Gentes is professor of Information and Communication Sciences at Telecom ParisTech an engineering school in IT, and an alumni of Ecole Normale Supérieure. She is the head of the Codesign and Media Studies Lab, where her team studies the invention and design of New Media and Information Technology. She teaches graduate courses in new media art, innovation and design. She is responsible for the master's program: "Design, Media, Technology" with the University Panthéon Sorbonne and the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Creation Industrielle. She also teaches political communication at the Institute of Political Sciences in Lille. She is currently visiting at Stanford and CMU Silicon Valley for a sabbatical year. Her research focuses on defining the characteristics of ICT as reflexive technologies. She studies how these new media are invented and developed by engineers, designers and artists. She focuses on understanding of user's expectations and practices in the design process. She currently works with The Louvre Museum, Grand Palais, Arts and Crafts Museum, Contemporary Art Museum Beaubourg, and other cultural and art institutions.