User-created personas: a four case multi-ethnic study of persona artefact co-design in pastoral and Urban Namibia with ovaHerero, Ovambo, ovaHimba and San communities

Cabrero, Daniel G. (2019) User-created personas: a four case multi-ethnic study of persona artefact co-design in pastoral and Urban Namibia with ovaHerero, Ovambo, ovaHimba and San communities. Doctoral thesis, University of West London.

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Daniel Cabrero - PhD Final Thesis (April 22).pdf - Accepted Version

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A persona is an artefact widely used in technology design to aid communicational processes between designers, users and other stakeholders involved in projects. Persona originated in the Global North as an interpretative portrayal of a group of users with commonalities. Persona lacks empirical research in the Global South, while projects appearing in the literature are often framed under the philosophy of User-Centred Design –this indicates they are anchored in western epistemologies. This thesis postulates persona depictions are expected to differ across locales, and that studying differences and similarities in such representations is imperative to avoid misrepresentations that in turn can lead to designerly miscommunications, and ultimately to unsuitable technology designs. The importance of this problematic is demonstrated through four exploratory case studies on persona artefacts co-designed with communities from four Namibian ethnicities, namely ovaHerero, ovaHimba, Ovambo and San. Findings reveal diverse self-representations whereby results for each ethnicity materialise in different ways, recounts and storylines: romanticised persona archetypes versus reality with ovaHerero; collective persona representations with ovaHimba; individualised personas with Ovambo, although embedded in narratives of collectivism and interrelatedness with other personas; and renderings of two contradictory personas of their selves with a group of San youth according to either being on their own (i.e. inspiring and aspirational) or mixed with other ethnic groups (i.e. ostracised). This thesis advocates for User-Created Personas (UCP) as a potentially valid tactic and methodology to iteratively pursue conceptualisations of persona artefacts that are capable to communicate localised nuances critical to designing useful and adequate technologies across locales: Methodologies to endow laypeople to co-design persona self-representations and the results and appraisals provided are this thesis’ main contribution to knowledge.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: personas, user-created personas, human-computer interaction, interaction design, user-centred design, participatory design, co-design, postcolonial interculturality, postcolonial computing, ICT4D, HCI4D, critical design, research through design, practice-based design, objects of design
Subjects: Computing > Innovation and user experience > Computing interaction design
Depositing User: Jisc Router
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2022 12:20
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2022 14:12


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