Distributed participatory design aspires to standards of inclusivity and humanity in introducing technology to the workplace that are hard to attain. The demands it makes upon the development and use of computing technology are particularly topical, as the potential for automation and distribution through embedded and mobile devices continues to develop. Standard views of computation propose ways in which to interpret all products of computing as programs, but give limited conceptual support for understanding computer-based design artefacts whose role in communication and elaboration eludes capture in a functional specification. This motivates our brief account of the alternative conceptual framework for computing afforded by Empirical Modelling, a body of principles and tools that can be applied to the development of a variety of computer-based artefacts relating to analysis, design and use that are most appropriately interpreted as construals rather than programs. The paper concludes by hinting at some of the ways in which developing construals using Empirical Modelling can assist distributed participatory design.
This paper can be downloaded as http://extra.shu.ac.uk/paperchaste/dpd/papers/beynon-dpd-2006.pdf from the workshop website at http://extra.shu.ac.uk/paperchaste/dpd/participants.html.