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Huda Khan

Questions in Relationship to Beyond 'Couch Potatoes'

source: Fischer, G. (2002) Beyond 'Couch Potatoes': From Consumers to Designers and Active

Contributors, in FirstMonday (Peer-Reviewed Journal on the Internet), at


1. what do you consider the main argument of the article?

The article differentiates between "consumer" and "designer" roles where consumers simply receive or digest information whereas designers are actively involved in the design and evolution of the artifacts/products they use. These two roles are at opposite ends of a spectrum which describes how individuals interact with solutions, i.e. level of passivity and activity in design.

The main problem is when end users who wish to be designers are not allowed to do so. Computational media, by its very nature, can be used in the process of creating socio-technical environments and tools that can help users be designers and be active informed participants. HCI research focused only on short-term interactions with tools and the consumer-oriented culture which defines education and commerce have not helped in either supporting or creating a mindset where individuals feel as if the designer role is possible or useful. HCI research focused far too long on "naive" or novice users, ignoring how many workers skilled and knowledgeable in their domains of practice need to use computational media to engage in framing and solving problems whose outcomes are personally meaningful to them. Systems that can co-evolve and co-adapt with users give the kind of power that allows these domain experts to use computational media to achieve personally meaningful goals.

2. do you agree or disagree with the main argument? give a answer based on your own experiences?

I agree that the consumerism culture is rampant, and both awareness of individual responsibility and the possibility for informed participation needs to be highlighted so individuals can both see the need and possibility for empowerment. I think that far too often research examines subsets of problems without understanding the big picture, and this article attempts to explain the big picture and then analyze how computational media can be employed within that particular paradigm.

3. enumerate in which situations

3.1. you acted as a designer/active contributor

a) The creation of software or an application where I actively contributed in the design process

b) Discussing how group goals could be met for any group project (community or school projects)

c) Discussing and deciding on the wording and quotes for my sister's wedding cards
(and inserting my choice for dessert :))

d) Helping kids I know with homework

e) Writing (papers, poetry, etc.)

3.2. you acted as a (passive) consumer

a) Being told what courses I had to take in high school or college

b) Having to flip through a variety of television channels before realizing nothing of interest was on but having to watch something anyway

c) Listening to information in the news

3.3. situations in which you believe you should have acted differently

a) Reading about news events or articles which I could discuss, or where I could contribute personally meaningful information to the discussion (letters to the editor, etc.)

b) Being more pro-active when it comes to understanding where I do have a voice instead of relying simply on the process to take its own course

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