Configuring the user: "Robots have needs too"

Eunjeong Cheon, Norman Makoto Su

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

23 Scopus citations


Users have played a prominent role as "objects of study" in HCI, CSCW, and HRI (Human-Robot Interaction). Researchers have begun to problematize the asymmetric relationship between technical experts and users. In this paper, we focus on how roboticists-borrowing a term from Steve Woolgar-"configure" their robot users. Instead of focusing on what roboticists think of their robots or what users think of robots, we ask, "What do roboticists think of users?" Utilizing two exercises we call futuristic stories and value index cards, we conducted semi-structured interviews with roboticists to examine their discourse on robotics, robots, and users. We found that roboticists framed users as inevitably transforming from a naïve user to a sensible user equipped to handle their ideal, utilitarian robot. Our findings illustrate that roboticists and designers need to make transparent what forms of future users they desire and expect in their design processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCSCW 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781450343350
StatePublished - Feb 25 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, CSCW 2017 - Portland, United States
Duration: Feb 25 2017Mar 1 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW


Other2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, CSCW 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Futuristic stories
  • Human-robot interaction
  • Roboticists
  • Robotics
  • Robots
  • Users
  • Value index cards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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