Designing from the Rural

One of the academic fields that I regularly contribute to and engage with is human-computer interaction, a discipline at the intersection of computer science, behavioral science, and design. HCI programs at universities don’t only produce research, but also user experience professionals, designers, data scientists, software engineers, and many others. The primary magazine that serves this interdisciplinary community, Interactions, has an article this month, Designing from the Rural, written by myself, Chanda Phelan, Morgan Vigil-Hayes, Norman Makoto Su, Susan Wyche, and Phoebe Sengers.

In the article, we argue that the time is ripe for the radical foregrounding of rural computing. By rural computing, we mean understanding, designing, and building computing technologies that are particular to the needs, aspirations, and practices of rural communities around the world. As researchers and professionals tasked to influence the design and use of sociotechnical systems, we believe it is our responsibility to ensure that rurality is well represented in design insights. In doing so, our article argues for a recentering of rural areas; we seek to design from the rural rather than for the rural (from the urban perspective). We emphasize that the design problems of the rural merit more than urban hand-me-down solutions.

You can read and download the article here for free in PDF or HTML.

Interactions – July-August 2019

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