IFIP 2013: Capability Sensitive Design

Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Ocho Rios in Jamaica and to participate in IFIP 2013: Into the Future. It was a great event where I presented the paper “Towards Applications of Capability Sensitive Design of Technologies”, which was prepared within the SAP mobility research lab in Pretoria. I am sharing the conference presentation in the hope of more useful comments and suggestions.

The presentation reflects the progress we have achieved in merging the Capability Approach (CA) with Design Thinking (DT), since the deadline for conference paper revisions. Some of the important points that came up in the course of the presentation included the usefulness of understandings generated by the CA in defining Point of View (PoV) statements. By bringing a detailed understanding of values and choices, CA allows designers to include as PoV insights, statements related to the choices users are prepared to make. Therefore, combining CA and DT allows designers to incorporate the potential for behavioral change within their artifacts.

Another significant point, relates to the knowledge dynamics within the DT process. Mueller and Thoring (2010), develop a typology of knowledge which is developed and transformed during the process. Design thinking can be seen as consisting of a theory generation process where a micro-theory is developed in the form a PoV statement. The micro-theory is subsequently applied and tested, until a final rational design emerges and it can be articulated. CA can bring considerable value to the early stages and the theory generation process.

 

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One thought on “IFIP 2013: Capability Sensitive Design”

  1. I attended your presentation and went through the slides you made available online. Your work is really interesting. While I am not an expert on design thinking, I see the main challenge you face is how to design an artifact that is flexible enough to give options to individuals with a wide range of interests, needs and demands. In my experience conducting ICT4D research, what I observed is that most of the time, donors, governments, NGOs, corporations provide what they think are the “solutions”, without having a good understanding of the actual interests, needs and demands. I see that in your case on education services, you put a lot of effort in understanding the user’s perspective. The question is if what you are designing based on what you captured in the field will eventually give choices to the individuals. No easy answers.

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