Stanford University Stanford Computer Science Department
Abstract    |    Introduction    |    Contacts    |   
   Competing Strategies

   What is PD?
   Political Push
   The Developer

Philosophical Perspective
   Design Philosophy


   Expert Systems Design
   Usability Engeering
   Value Senstive Design

Value Sensitive Design

Most of the other design strategies discussed in this section focus more on making the computer work. This may be either in the interest of providing a tool for the user to be more successful or doing more so that less skilled workers may accomplish the same tasks. With the Value Sensitive Design approach to software design, human values such as freedom of speech, rights to property, accountability, privacy, and autonomy are considered when software is being designed.

The idea behind Value Sensitive Idea is that the way engineers create new software or hardware makes it more suitable for some jobs over others. A simplified example would be a hammer is better for driving nails, "poorly suited as a soup ladle, and perhaps amenable as a doorstop, bookend, or paper weight." Although the values set forth by a system cannot be completely controlled or known ahead of time, it is important to try to assess the possibilities and design accordingly.


Value Sensitive Design is still a much more theoretical design model compared to Participatory Design. Participatory Design is much better suited at creating tools that users want and deem most important in aiding their tasks. Also, it has the ability to take away much of the guess work out of design because there are users who the developers question and receive feedback from. With Value Sensitive Design, there is the possibility of over-thinking what values are built into a system and may result in systems that aren't what the user truly needs.

At the same time, Value Sensitive Design may be an important way to look at the development of software. Generally speaking, what users what is not always the best for society as a whole. For instance, software that allows the uninhibited sharing of commercial software or music is arguably a bad thing. Creating software with this ability may lower the value of copyrights in the minds of users because it is easy to do and there is little possibility of reprimand when done moderately in private. Value Sensitive Design provides a much more philosophical, but important view on technology that is built. It is an important tool for considering the ethical nature of products and could be very useful if incorporated into Participatory Design. In both systems, there is a sense of making technology that helps people, not replaces them.

Product Development
   Vendor Adoption
   Product Design

In the US
   New Context
   Current Use

   Applied PD

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