The Importance of the Self: Designing for Human Extension Rather than Human Substitution

By Travis J. Brown.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The relegation of the individual to a passive role in design is akin to the dismissal of the link when considering the chain. There is a symbiotic relationship between artifact and user, given that the user depends on the functionality provided by the artifact and the artifact depends on the user to assign it purpose. I propose that individuals seek out designs which enhance their ability to self-express; however, by designing artifacts which are meant for human substitution rather than human extension, we run the risk of obfuscating the users’ original intent, forcing them to increase their dependence on the functionality provided rather than the functionality desired. I am an advocate of personalized, independent self-reflection to enable individuals to have a dialogue within themselves, which is best facilitated through the use of technology. I propose that technology appropriately designed allows for independent self-reflection and increased self-sufficiency.

Keywords: Self-reflection, Multiple Interpretations, Psychic Sustainability, User Development

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.273-280. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 587.426KB).

Travis J. Brown

PhD Student, Department of Informatics, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA

Travis is a doctoral student in the School of Informatics at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. He has spent his career in business, focusing on performance management, entrepreneurship and corporate innovation. His research combines human-computer interaction and complex systems theory to focus on social networks and the role of the individual in those networks as well as to introduce design values and techniques for the creation of artifacts which support human extension rather than human substitution.


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