Thoughtful :: it’s about excitability
Co-candidate Martin on his fashionable – if constantly morphing – mentions the “potential dangers of usability culture”. This is a topic which I used to be rather obsessed with as an undergraduate, going as far as to write a largely misunderstood student paper entitled “The Disenfranchised User”. In this underestimated masterpiece I argued that usability is wonderful in the short term but the requirement that users must not (for the love of God!) think may have dire consequences (insert, in the background, the shrill sound of high-pitch violins) in the long term. But it all depends on your conceptualization of IT – if IT is like electricity we have little reason to be concerned with the relative ignorance of users (or if we do, it takes someone more STS than me to realize it) but if IT is like a communicative infrastructure the design of which has large-scale consequences for both private and public life then we may not want to resign ourselves to ignorance, no matter how blissful in the short term.