Empowerment workshop

Re-thinking user-centered design with new forms of end user empowerment

A Workshop at CHITALY


13 September 2011 - Alghero


Cristiano Storni, Liam Bannon, Luigina Ciolfi (University of Limerick, Ireland), Francesca Bria (Imperial College London, UK)

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This workshop will explore the emerging paradigm of end-user empowerment across a variety of application areas, in order to extend current HCI and Interaction Design research towards a better understanding of the implications of the notion of empowerment for user-centered design in different domains. The issue of empowerment surfaces at many levels and it challenges some of the traditional separations in a variety of discourses: from that concerned with policy-making and the idea of empowered citizens, to that concerned with innovations and the idea of user-driven design; from arguments in favor of open-source and online crowd-sourcing, to the idea of empowering the patient in health care practices. A series of recent studies in design and technological innovation have also started to question the traditional idea of a passive end-user and to challenge a clear-cut separation between design and use.

Workshop Themes

What is the impact of these new ways of thinking and new technologies for User Centred Design? How are these new practices and technologies challenging the traditional assumptions of UC design and evaluation methods?

In these rapidly changing scenarios, the notion of empowerment confronts us with questions regarding interdependencies between different social groups and their domains of knowledge and expertise. Here the idea of user-centered design acquires a whole set of new meanings that go well beyond its traditional focus and concerns about end-user interface or usability. In this perspective, usability could paradoxically even represent a strategy to keep users passive and frustrate their agency (Gillespie, 2006). Indeed, the new forms of user-, citizens-, visitors- or patient- empowerment confronts us with deeper questions about the role of designers, users, and their relationship whose practical implications for design are largely unexplored.


Participants are required to prepare a one-page position paper describing (1) a case of empowerment and (2) its potential contribution for a reflection/criticism on user-centered design; position papers can also refer to work-in-progress, design framework and guidelines, or literature review that support a reflection on the notion of user empowerment and its implication for design and HCI.

Alternatively participants can also prepare a poster or a collage addressing the same topic at different levels and with different media. In each case, the aim of this material is to support a short presentation in the morning as well as to enable group's discussions and brainstorming.

Deadlines and important dates

  • CHITALY Early registration until 7th of August 2011;
  • Contributions to the workshop are due before the 5th of September 2011;
  • Workshop 13th of September 2011.

Who to send the submission to

Submissions to the workshop are due as soon as possible up to workshop registration deadline (5th of September).
Submissions as well as requests of information should be sent by email to Cristiano.storni at ul.ie or to empowerment.and.ucd at gmail.com