Assignment 9: Meta-Design - Jodi Kiefer

paper: Meta-Design á Fischer, G., Giaccardi, E., Ye, Y., Sutcliffe, A. G., & Mehandjiev, N. (2004) "Meta-Design: A Manifesto for End-User Development," Communications of the ACM, 47(9), pp. 33-37.


This article on meta-design and EUD was well liked by the class as a whole. Everyone commented that they found meta-design to be very interesting and beneficial in aiding collaboration within the development of software tools. The concept of allowing end-users become the developer in their system at a low learning cost was found to be interesting as it promotes abstract conceptual thinking from the user and also gives them the ability and control to extend/modify the system to aid in solving their particular problem. The group was able to come up with a list of meta-design systems that they have used and interacted with including the following: Open Source programs such as Linux, Pearl, GNU utilities and Swiki, music editing programs, weblog creation software such as MovableType, and Dreamweaver.

While there was a consensus on the vast benefits and potential of meta-design and EUD systems, the class also expressed the difficulties involved in creating such a system. The motivation level of the user and the learning cost were the two most mentioned foreseen issues. For example, it was commented that the problem with open source is that a large percentage of users do not desire to invest the time nor energy to learn the system well enough to contribute due to the great learning cost. The group also pinpointed the difficulty of designing a flexible, user-friendly, extendible system which would target a majority of users. From a social aspect, the group noted the challenge of having the end-user comfortable as a co-designer and able to collaborate with others in the development of systems. In general, transforming userís from working in an individualistic culture to a cooperative culture.