tive interfaces to connect the global,
local, physical, and virtual and bring
everyone together for collective
activities, value creation, combined
purchasing influence, etc. Design for
deliberate and accidental non-users,
for mediators, and those people who
rely on mediation for their access.
Include the world beyond those connected and design to make resources available without the need for
specific equipment or skills.
Design for active membership
of society. We are increasingly
able to analyze and report on our
social/physical environment and
well-being. Use these insights to
reach beyond judgments on others’ behavior. Social norms theory
suggests that individuals’ actions
can be moderated by contact with
the actions of their social group,
but this is a finite model for social
transformation. Challenge persuasive tools that inspire shame, manage conformity, or discourage undesirable activity with those that work
to fire up people’s sense of agency,
love of inquiry, and desire to solve
problems. Harness local wisdom
as well as data on local conditions.
Design to make people forceful and
Design for sharing. Use terms that
capture supportive relationships in
the household (“cohabitants”), locale
(“inhabitants,” “neighbors”) or wider
world (“citizens”). Affirm that we
are each a custodian, rather than
“consumer,” “audience,” or “user”
(suggesting dependence), “designer”
or “creator” (suggesting indepen-
dence). Look beyond community.
Interdependence forces consider-
ation of social justice and complex
resource-sharing issues. In any given
locale, support negotiation across
different groups and the inevitabil-
ity of shifts in the balance of power.
Interdependence involves seeking
temporary equilibrium and building
societies that transform and inno-
vate well. Design for learning and
growing together, for responding to
emergent trends and handling flux.
generates financial profit at a cost
to every other measure. We can
understand interaction design as
a means of promoting interdependence digitally, through discovering
unstated links and making new
connections in people’s lives and
minds. Designing for interdependence is yet more difficult than
designing software. However, it
has never been more important to
look past our tools to the relations
engendered by them, and there has
never been so much information on
impact to help us try.
[ 1] The term “interdependence” is drawn from
my cultural perspective and throws attention on
negotiated relations, however, it has similar commitments to Ubuntu in Sub-Saharan African life.
See Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Bidwell, N.J., Blake,
E. Kapuire, G. and Rehm, M. Being participated:
A community approach. Proc. of the 11th Biennial
Participatory Design Conference, (Sydney, Australia,
Nov. 29 - Dec. 3). ACM, New York, 2010, 1-10.
[ 2] Light, A. Bridging Global divides with tracking
and tracing technology. IEEE Pervasive 9, 2 (2010),
[ 3] Marks & Spencer is used here as an example of
cutting-edge practice in retail management. It was
not involved in our research. This article does not
suggest that any company deliberately undermines
[ 4] Fair Tracing did not produce a blueprint for a
tool, but defined a socio-technical opportunity
space and passed its findings to the Karnataka
state government, India, which set up a working
group. See Light, A. and Anderson, T. Research
project as boundary object: Negotiating the conceptual design of a tool for international development.
Proc. of the 2009 11th European Conference on
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (Vienna,
Austria Sept. 7-11) 2009.
[ 5] Dourish, P. HCI and environmental sustainability:
The politics of design and the design of politics,
Proc. of the Eighth ACM Conference on Designing
Interactive Systems (Aarhus, Denmark, Aug. 18-20)
ACM, New York, 2010, 1-10.
[ 6] Botsman, R. and Rogers, R. What’s Mine Is
Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption,
HarperBusiness, New York, 2010.
About thE Author
Ann Light is a reader in interac-
tion, media and communication at
Sheffield Hallam University, UK.
With Makerere University,
Uganda, she set up a mobile
phone innovation incubator and
uses ICT to run a cultural exchange charity
between Ghana and Europe.
March + April 2011
© 2011 ACM 1072-5220/11/0300 $10.00