Language / Security/identity · 30 Apr 2008

Everyday identity and human-centered design

The Managing Identity in New Zealand conference has been an amazing experience. The organizers did a superb job constructing a uniquely valuable event, reflecting the thoughtfulness that’s present everywhere in the NZ government’s approach to its citizens’ identity.

I hope to have more time very soon to put together lots more thoughts on the many talks and conversations, but for now I just wanted to share the slides for the keynote I presented on Tuesday: The Design of Everyday Identity.

And one additional thought for now: I’m extremely sympathetic to the views of Doc and Adriana regarding the oddity of the phrase “user-centric”. I’ve remarked many times on the problems with assuming that people are always online and in front of a user agent (that is, “users”), and the very word describes people relative to the systems that are supposed to be helping them, which seems backwards — especially since the systems don’t seem to be too inclined to actually help them do what they want to do!

My research for this talk led me back to the classic ideas in Don Norman‘s usability work, where he invoked the phrase “human-centered design” starting back in the 80’s. I would happily switch to “human-centered” from “user-centric”, and I suspect it would help us all be more open to the many ways to achieve this goal, particularly if Don Norman’s cautionary tale is kept in mind.

(As always, you can find my presos and papers and such linked from my Publications page. See that page if you want a more extensive bibliography for the talk, and keep an eye out for the conference proceedings paper I’ll be finishing in the next couple of weeks.)