A Critique of Personas as representations of "the other" in Cross-Cultural Technology Design

Cabrero, Daniel G.; Winschiers-Theophilus, Heike and Abdelnour-Nocera, José (2016). A Critique of Personas as representations of "the other" in Cross-Cultural Technology Design. In: Proceedings of the First African Conference on Human Computer Interaction - AfriCHI'16, pp. 149–154.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/2998581.2998595


A literature review on cross-cultural personas reveals both, a trend in projects lacking accomplishment and personas reinforcing previous biases. We first suggest why failures or incompleteness may have ensued, while then we entice a thoughtful alteration of the design process by creating and validating personas together with those that they embody. Personas created in people's own terms support the design of technologies by truly satisfying users' needs and drives. Examining the experiences of those working "out there", and our practises, we conclude persona is a vital designerly artefact to empowering people in representing themselves. A persona-based study on User-Created Persona in Namibia contrasts the current persona status-quo via an ongoing co-design effort with urban and rural non-designers. However we argue persona as a design device must ease its implicit colonial tendency to and impulses in depicting "the other". Instead we endorse serenity, mindfulness and local enabling in design at large and in the African context in particular.

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