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hw10 summary by Andrew Skalet

1. Class Participants agree that the thrust of the article is that the current model of media in our society is very producer/consumer, with a very specific division between the two sides. Television is a perfect example, where corporations (generally) control the content, and consumers are literally inactive couch potatoes.

Participants also agreed that technology should not limit the design capabilities of "end users", and that HCI has focused too much on the most basic users. They feel that technology should allow people to become designers at least to some extent, and that this is the preferable role for "end users". One reader also mentioned the wide-ranging cultural implications this could have.

2. Participants largely agreed with the argument. One person pointed out that limited design is possible in existing devices such as cell phones and v-chip televisions. People feel that the capabilities of each indiviual user to learn and contribute to society are extended very significantly by some design capability. One person, however, noted a potential pitfall in thrusting the design role on consumers too much. People lamented the excess of consumerism, And I personally feel that this consumer focus is motivated very much by the money-making goals of industry. Specifically, beaming ads to consumers via television, billboards, or other means is a straightforward and effective way to market products and services. As such, I believe a grassroots effort will be necessary to change the couch potato bias, because an effort from industry will not be forthcoming.

3.1 People mentioned a variety of enviornments in which they have acted as designers. They ranged from software design in school and at work, to hobbies such as knitting and writing, setting up a home network, and working on group projects for this course. The dominant example was software design (perhaps because of this group), but people did provide "outside the box" examples of design that end users could do or aspire to do.

3.2 Watching television was the dominant example where people act as a passive consumer. Other examples included listening music, using applicances, taking required courses, sitting through non-interactive lectures, and playing video games (I feel this is not the case for all video games). One person mentioned that being a consumer is sometimes a nice way to relax.

3.3 People gave many different answers to how they should have acted differently. Some said there is little opportunity to act differently than a normal consumer, others gave examples of what they would like to design but can't, and others gave examples of situations where more analysis was needed before making the (wrong) decision. Another example is for a user capable of software design playing to many video games, and feeling like they are acting too much as a consumer and not enough as a designer.

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