“why do we degrade people by the passive, inert term of “user.” People are rich, complex beings. They use our devices with specific goals, motives, and agendas.”
The EXPRESSIVE part of my head agrees with Don. We really need to lighten up on the jargon and lingo. But then my CURIOUS side takes over. WHY? What about the hugely successful blog Creating Passionate Users? WHAT IF they called it “Creating Passionate People”? Yuck. Sounds like a self help book. The title Creating Passionate Users provides me with context. It tells me what this blog is about and gives me an idea of what kind of content I can expect. So maybe we need to occasionally use terms like customers and users to help add a little context to our conversations.
And here’s some more food for thought. To Don’s point about the hotel experience—think about how we are treated as valued customers. Now picture yourself on a crowded train and think about how rude some people can be toward each other. Sometimes it’s not such a bad thing to call a human being a customer. Society tends to treat paying customers very well (though I wish we all treated other human beings a little more decently)—but that’s just how it is.
That said—I’m still in agreement with Mr. Norman’s general thought. We do need to keep the focus on people. Once we lose that—we forfeit purpose and the quality of our work degrades. However, I also think that some labels serve a purpose and help define context.