online: 9 january 2003

31 december 2002 a user design dictionary?

version 1.1.1 8 january 2003

Could this be the beginning of something a little unexpected even to me: a reformulation of the design projects I've experienced and struggled with and enjoyed, quite often without worldly success?

I came to the idea after a dream (derived from one of those projects*) in which I seemed to be free (as never happened in life) to experience greatly changed roles ( for designers and others) so as to realise a vision of what I'm now calling 'user design': the basing of design process not on 'producing' but on 'using'... the difficult but good implications of which will I hope become evident as this 'dictionary' takes form (in reality as well as in utopia).

The immediate effect of this intention is to reanimate many userdesign projects that presently exist only in my records and memory - and to renew enthusiasms that were often quenched in the struggle to re-arrange mechanised lives and motives to the point of giving ourselves (as people not as office holders) the lead in all decisions of consequence.

Certain 'hard words' that I then saw and still see as essential to this change will surely survive in this dictionary of reversals - but I hope in forms that enable and inspire us to seek and enjoy what in former times we could only resist.

The gist and purpose of this dictionary is to make available some new pathways and methods of designing as users and as people - and to clear away obstacles to so doing. This will I hope begin a re-education of ourselves, our aims and our perceptions, as well as of our roles and our motives... Perhaps this will still remain in some degree utopian but I hope that it will bring a wider and more human realism to the whole question of userdesign (and creative democracy as I call it) in and as the changing forms of industrial society and culture as we've know them...

* As far as I can remember it, the dream was about 'theatres' of several kinds, each of which I saw or imagined as a 'reversal' in that the audience became primary and the performers secondary:
lecture theatre
operating theatre
acting theatre
puppet theatre
tv studio
They seemed to have a common form - that of people on three sides of the performers looking downwards from a shortened distance and with the audience taking an active part (via physical and electronic links) and the performers ceasing to dominate...

That would comprise one entry in the proposed dictionary. Others would concern city traffic, housing, books, libraries, tv viewing, education, government, law, medicine, defence, security... all the specialised jobs or professions... each 'reversed' in some way... (more later)

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© 2002 john chris jones

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