Practices of readiness: punctuation, poise and the contingencies of participatory design

  • Yoko Akama
  • Ann Light


How do we ready ourselves to intervene responsively in the contingent situations that arise in co-designing to make change? How do we attune to group dynamics and respond ethically to unpredictable developments when working with 'community'? Participatory Design (PD) can contribute to social transitions, yet its focus is often tightly tuned to technique for designing ICT at the cost of participatory practice. We challenge PD conventions by addressing what happens as we step into a situation to alter it with others, an aspect of practice that cannot be replicated or interchanged. We do so to argue that practices of readiness are constituted by personal histories, experiences, philosophies and culture. We demonstrate this political argument by giving reflexive accounts of our dimensions of preparation. The narratives here are distinct, yet reveal complementary theories and worldviews that shape PD ontologies. We have organized these around the qualities of punctuation and poise as a way to draw out some less easily articulated aspects of PD practice.

Full text at ACM

SESSION: Complicated things