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It's important to consider both primary and secondary users when designing for intermediated interaction scenarios in India and elsewhere in the developing world. However, most of this research has focused on supporting users in the developed world who are voluntarily collaborating on a computing task. Many users in India, especially those from disadvantaged classes, have only partial or no physical access to computing devices. We refer to these users as secondary users to distinguish them from the primary users that the interface design process traditionally considers. Secondary users must interact with information resources via a proxy primary user who has the required access rights and skills. The proxy's filtering and funneling decisions limit the secondary users' information-seeking behavior; the secondary user might also have an unequal power relationship with the proxy. Therefore, secondary users might never know the full scope of actions and knowledge available to them. If we are to realize the egalitarian potential of computing, we must consider secondary users in the design process. We must develop technologies that recognize the needs and aspirations of all classes of users, including those without direct access to the user interface. In fact, by designing user interfaces explicitly supporting intermediated tasks, both primary and secondary users can benefit.
Date of Publication: April-June 2006