Dick van Dijk, Frank Kresin, Miriam Reitenbach, Eva Rennen,Sabine Wildevuur (eds.) (2011) Users as Designers; A hands-on approach to Creative Research
This publication describes Waag Society’s approach to social innovation. It is a creative approach in which design is better suited to society’s needs, there is a balance of power between institutions and end users, and technology can sidestep existing paradigms. This approach is called Users as Designers.
Current technology enables and demands a different kind of education, a different healthcare system, and a changing role of civilians with respect to the society they find themselves in. Technology can be a great help, but only if it is designed and developed together with its users, and answers their specific requirements and demands. Applying the Users as Designers methodology helps in this respect, as it automatically builds reciprocity and trust into the systems that surround us.
Waag Society has over 16 years of experience in developing creative technologies for social innovation. Over this period we have experimented with new forms and practices, collaborated with hundreds of institutions and thousands of people, built numerous prototypes, and given birth to numerous spin-off products, companies and institutions. Most importantly, Waag Society has functioned as a connector, as a neutral ground on which people from different backgrounds and with different interests can meet and innovate together.
We believe that Waag Society’s methodology can be a useful tool in a wide variety of domains, challenges and opportunities. We have elaborated on our philosophy and methods in publications such as Open Design Now: Why Design Cannot Remain Exclusive (Abel, van 2011), examining current developments in the emerging open design movement and looking ahead to its future, and Connected! LiveArt (Doruff 2004), a catalogue of the Connected! Programme researching mediated telepresence in both its serious and its more playful forms, which ran at Waag Society from 2003–2005.
In this publication Waag Society focuses on a hands-on description of its methods. With it we hope to spread the use of Users as Designers, improve our own understanding by sharing and learning from the responses, and to sow and grow the seeds of change we hope will flourish. We invite you to use it, to share it, to extend it, and to give us your feedback.
Marleen Stikker, President of Waag Society
social innovation, design, creative research