The User Reconfigured: On Subjectivities of Information
Keywords:User, subjectivity, sexuality, theory, criticism
Foundational to HCI is the notion of “the user.” Whether a cognitive processor, social actor, consumer, or even a non- user, the user in HCI has always been as much a technical construct as actual people using systems. We explore an emerging formulation of the user—the subjectivity of in- formation—by laying out what it means and why research- ers are being drawn to it. We then use it to guide a case study of a relatively marginal use of computing—digitally mediated sexuality—to holistically explore design in rela- tion to embodiment, tactual experience, sociability, power, ideology, selfhood, and activism. We argue that subjectivi- ties of information clarifies the relationships between de- sign choices and embodied experiences, ways that designers design users and not just products, and ways to cultivate and transform, rather than merely support, human agency.
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