Subject: RE: stereotype vs. persona vs archetype

18 Mar 2005 - 12:52am
9 years ago
1 reply
1016 reads
Tom Hobbs
2004

Not to flog a very dead horse, we should get off the stereotypical
designer question.
I'm glad that this has moved into something constructive and is has
become about
discussing the value of stereotypes in design at all.

> There's no need to be upset, Tom.

Perhaps paradoxically, I wasn't upset as a designer of being
'stereotyped' personally (I don't
take myself in relation to my profession), it was at the very concept
of 'stereotypes' being
introduced as a design tool at all...

Lada use of them was very interesting indeed... but effectively putting
them in a place to
move away from.

> If I had asked for what a designer truely is, I wouldn't have gotten
> anything I could work with.

This, in fact, was my primary concern in joining the thread — that you,
as a designer, felt
a need to gravitate immediately to obvious. This, as interaction
designers, is inherently not
what we're about. And Mike has raised the critical issue of 'archetype'
— which effectively
gives us the tool, without the negativity.

The point Ted has raised himself is the crux of the matter. Stereotypes
are always negative and
therefore inherently offensive. They're very dangerous as consequence.
They are after all, without
getting hardcore, often grown out of some sort of discrimination.

My point is that as part of our design process we should be looking to
identify characteristics to
create archetypes that breakdown stereotypes. The value of a good
persona (embodying
archetypal characteristics) is to get team members/clients to think
beyond the stereotypes
and the preconceived notions.

The value of investigating users and their environment has to be to
discover something new
that we didn't already know. If the design process is gravitating
toward a
stereotype, the process is flawed somewhere and negates the value of
the process itself.
I personally have always discovered something I, and the team, didn't
except from good
investigation. Even the face of the most 'stereotypical' problems.

I've also found it possible to create something that people identify
with and recognize that
is not a stereotype.

After all, this exercise has proved that we're very good at we're very
good at coming up with
stereotypes without user research (unless someone would be insane
enough to suggest
that the question was some sort of valid research technique!)

-tom

Comments

18 Mar 2005 - 7:00pm
Peter Marquardt
2005

I understand what you're saying, Tom, and I agree with most of it.
However I think you may have misunderstood the reason why I started
the original thread.

First of all it was an off-topic thread not necessarily connected to
interaction design. I simply (mis)used this platform as a means of
getting feedback from many designer types, who I otherwise don't have
much contact to yet.
In communication, especially one-way communication it is vital for the
sender and the receiver to have a common set of symbols so that one
understands the other. My intention was to gather information about
which symbols most commonly were connected to a designer in the minds
of designers, hence asking for the stereotype and clichés, so that I
could incorporate them in my project which should finally result in a
pictograph, showing a designer in a way that most other designers
would understand.

I understand very well that you are concerned about using stereotypes
or clichés and I usually am not a fan of them either, but a good
pictograph lives from clichés. Next time when you are near a public
restroom, look at the symbol for the ladies' room. Then take a look
around you to see how many women actually walk around like that.

I'm sorry if my intention didn't get across to all of you and I'm glad
it got directed on-topic and turned into a somewhat valuable
conversation.

-- Peter

--
lastfuture online
http://www.lastfuture.de/

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