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Interaction design, mass communication and the challenge of distributed expertise

Hartley, John 2008. Interaction design, mass communication and the challenge of distributed expertise. Sociological Problems Quarterly (3-4) , pp. 191-209.

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The paper considers some implications of the rise of design as a master-metaphor of the information age. It compares the terms ‘interaction design’ and ‘mass communication’, suggesting that both can be seen as a contradiction in terms, inappropriately preserving an industrial-age division between producers and consumers. With the shift from mass media to interactive media, semiotic and political power seems to be shifting too – from media producers to designers. This paper argues that it is important for the new discipline of ‘interactive design’ not to fall into habits of thought inherited from the ‘mass’ industrial era. Instead, it argues for the significance, for designers and producers alike, of what I call ‘distributed expertise’ – including social network markets, DIY-culture, user-led innovation, consumer co-created content, and the use of Web 2.0 affordances for social, scientific, and creative purposes as well as for entertainment. It considers the importance of the growth of ‘distributed expertise’ as part of a new paradigm in the growth of knowledge, which has ‘evolved’ through a number of phases, from ‘abstraction’, to ‘representation’, to ‘productivity’. In the context of technologically mediated popular participation in the growth of knowledge and social relationships, the paper argues that design and media-production professions need to cross rather than to maintain the gap between experts and everyone else, enabling all the agents in the system to navigate the shift into the paradigm of mass productivity.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Additional Information: Special issue: The new media constellation
Publisher: Institute of Sociology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
ISSN: 0324-1572
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Last Modified: 22 Oct 2016 03:05

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