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Power over Mediated Agency and its Ethical Implications for Interaction Design

Abstract
There is little discussion about power within Interaction Design field. To call attention to this issue, we present a model for discussing conflicts that arises at the human-artifact interface. We argue that artifacts support human behavior by providing adaptations, but these adaptations can expand or restrict human actions. Human action cannot be fully controlled by artifact adaptation because humans have power over their agency: they can readapt the artifact or not use it at all. Many times, interaction designers try to impose structures upon human action by shaping coercive environments where people are punished if they do things the “wrong way” and by hiding or not providing options for changing artifact adaptations. Interaction design mediates human agency and power, but if it does not provide choices for action, there is no room for ethics: people act based on conditions, not on considerations of what should be done.

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van AMSTEL, F. M. C. Power over Mediated Agency and its Ethical Implications for Interaction Design. 2007, Curitiba. Anais do 2o. Simpósio Nacional de Tecnologia e Sociedade, 2007.

Categories: Academic Publications.

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