This talk traces participatory engagement from the design of inclusive products using participatory processes, through forms of participatory design research to the design of future ways of being in an information age. It shows how the situatedness of design is not just geographical, but temporal. In doing so, it draws for illustration on the practices of participatory researchers and the author’s projects in particular, framed with Verbeek’s mediation theory. If people, data and technologies co-create the sociotechnical world, ever influencing each other and redefining ethics in a political entanglement, then how do we engage people in the design of this entanglement so that the democratic ideals of participatory design extend to societal issues as well as individual systems and tools? This essay proposes one answer that addresses the stories we tell about technology, as well as the process of designing.
Ann Light is Professor of Design and Creative Technology at the University of Sussex, a design researcher specializing in design for social wellbeing and the politics of participation. With qualifications in humanities, arts and artificial intelligence, and a DPhil in human-computer interaction, she draws on many influences, working with arts and grassroots organizations and marginalized groups on five continents, in local, transnational and international development settings, and publishing on design of social process, social innovation and cross-cultural methodology. She has led interdisciplinary research spanning transport and architecture to social activism and ethically-sourced consumption, drawing on management and facilitation experience acquired in design company start-ups. She leads the Creative Technology Group at Sussex and has been multiply funded under the AHRC’s Connected Communities and Designing for the 21st Century programmes and the EPSRC, with a recent fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust. She is also advisor on a number of EU and RCUK projects.