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PURPOSE: This research theorizes the condition of human beings reduced to being users (and only users) in human-computer interaction (HCI), a condition that favors them becoming objects or targets of commercial dark patterns, racialized profiling algorithms, generalized surveillance, gendered interfaces and heteromation. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: The reconceptualization of the users’ condition is done by confronting HCI theories on users with a dialectical-existential perspective over human ontology. The research is presented as a conceptual paper that includes analyzing and revising those theories to develop a conceptual framework for the user oppression in HCI. FINDINGS: Most HCI theories contribute to the user oppression with explicit or implicit ontological statements that denies their becoming-more or the possibility of users developing their handiness to the full human potential. Put together, these statements constitute an ideology called userism. SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS: HCI needs to acknowledge its role in structuring oppression not just in sexism, racism, classism and ableism, but also the specific relation that pertains to HCI: userism. Similar to other fields, acknowledging oppression is the first step toward liberating from oppression. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: The user is an existential condition for HCI theories, yet few theories can explain in depth how this condition affects human development. From the dialectical-existential perspective, the user condition can be dehumanizing. Computers may intensify existing oppressions through esthetic interactions but these interactions can be subverted for liberation. KEYWORDS: Users, Human-Computer Interaction, Oppression, Ontological design, Social justice informatics, Userism
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Augusto Boal's workshops and theatre exercises are renowned throughout the world for their life-changing effects. At last this major director, practitioner, and author of many books on community theatre speaks out about the subjects most important to him - the practical work he does with diverse communities, the effects of globalization, and the creative possibilities for all of us.
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