Applying Designing for Values

RI 2016: Section 7.2

Applying VSD in practice

In the previous section, we discussed the origins of VSD and its importance. We used the following definitions from Bayta Friedman and Prof. Jeroen van den Hoven respectively:

  • 'Ultimately, VSD requires that we broaden the goals and criteria for judging the quality of technological systems to include those that advance human values.'
  • [VSD is a] way of doing ethics that aims at making moral values part of technological design, research and development.

But this of course is easier said than done. How can we embody values in design? 

In this lecture, we will discuss the following 3 questions:

  1. Can technology embody values?
    We will explain what we mean by comparing three perspectives on technology: instrumentalism, substantivism, and interactionism.
  2. What values should we include in design? And how can we deal with a multitude of values?
  3. How can we translate values into design requirements?

Our running examples will be animal welfare and biofuels. Please do check the key readings for this section, as this content will be included in the quiz.


Key Reading

As we have seen in the lectures, VSD is a theoretically grounded approach to the design of technology that accounts for human values in a principled and comprehensive manner throughout the design process. It employs an integrative and iterative tripartite methodology, consisting of conceptual, empirical, and technical investigations. The reading for this section is key for understanding VSD and is titled: Value Sensitive Design and Information Systems by Batya Friedman, Peter H Kahn, Jr and Alan Boring.

  • It explains the above-mentioned investigations and why it should be iterative.
  • It includes practical suggestions for how to engage in VSD.
  • It explains VSD in more detail by drawing on 3 case studies. 



Can you think of problematic examples of technology implementations where the VSD approach could help improve the system, and prevent or mitigate undesirable outcomes?