October 18, 2004

Electrical engineers acknowledge social science

It's interesting to see how ideas slide around. In this article, in an electrical engineering publication, the thinking goes from "component manufacturers are saying that this ubiquitous computing thing is the next big thing" to "people do funny stuff with their personal technology" to "someone should decide how the electronics should be integrated into people's lives" to

It doesn't take much imagination to see that if you are involved in the development of personal portable electronic products, your engagement with the marketing department is only going to grow as time passes. The subtle nuances of how users actually handle the gadgets in a social context could well set the course of product development.

Which, of course, is what user centered design people have been saying all along, but it's interesting to see how it's being recognized by at least an engineering publication. It'll take it a while, I suspect, to become engineering doctrine, but at least the acknowledgement that ideas come from end users, rather than just going to them, is important.

It's still funny though, that although at least this article recognizes social science, there's still a level of discomfort with the whole idea, as the last line shows:

Your marketing colleagues might come to include as many social scientists as "hard" scientists. I will leave it to you to decide whether that prospect is appealing.
Posted by mikek at October 18, 2004 01:05 PM | TrackBack
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