Participatory Design & Floss: How can co-design work with libre graphics

By Paula Graham and Lisa Haskell

Fossbox is more about participatory design than libre graphics.

Fossbox seeks to change the world through technology. They ran Flossie, which taught a lot about working with diversity, which is important working with end users.

Ux design is core for teaching end users. It’s important to work with end users to discover what they need. If code is poetry, interface is interactive art.

Fossbox stated out doing floss advocacy with NGOs and community groups. They found that free software and arts groups get on well, but diverse groups had some political friction. This is partly a clash between libertarian floss and socialist NGOs.

Some political decisions undertaken by developers are not well communicated to end users, who may disagree with them.

You must meet users on their own terms. Flexibility is important. Compromise is necessary. This may mean, say, recording to non-free formats.

Users may expect undeliverable things, so that has to be communicated.

Be prepared to shift your paradigm.

Developers must collaborate with designers.

Working with a community is a project. Be aware of scope creep.


Why is ‘agile’ too techy?

Fossbox collaborated over 3 years with a disability organisation in East London. Most workers do front line work.  Agile methods of users stories and springs didn’t help communicate with users. The users were support busy and they approached them on their own terms.

Q: I don’t think floss is a libertarian monoculture!

Globally, floss is extremely diverse. In Anglo-American it is libertarian. Floss developers have free time and education and are privileged in every culture. In Anglo-American culture, this means white men. Floss is profoundly  homosocial and in order to include women, changes must be made.

Q: Don’t put me in a box!

Owning the means of production, is good. People should own the technology that shaped their lives. But ai algorithms are enormously complex. To own that technology, is need a lot of kit and skill, unless we change our understanding of ownership to one of democracy. How do we deal with citizen, user control of enormously complex systems otherwise?

Published by

Charles Céleste Hutchins

Supercolliding since 2003

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