has been designing for people who actively use applications or interactive products. These individuals, commonly referred to as users, may be bank tellers operating a banking application, pilots setting parameters of an autopilot system, or customers using ATM machines. This viewpoint neglects a vast number of cases in which human interactions with computerized systems are less active and often unplanned, yet still meaningful. People’s needs are routinely ignored in these situations and the effects of information systems on their lives often go unnoticed. We term these people “incidental users.” While not “users” in the traditional sense, incidental users are affected to various degrees by the system and by those who directly interact with it. They have considerable interest in the information presented by the system, usually as the recipients of a service. Incidental users may also be an important source of information for the system, thus taking the role of “co-user.” Yet they are also “transparent users” in the sense they are rarely considered during the design process. As designers and researchers, our user-centered concerns typically include the operator (i.e., primary user), the supervisor, the administrator, and the person who installs the system or maintains it. All of us have been incidental users of information systems. In fact, we suspect that there are more instances of people being incidental users than there are of people being conventional users. We want to draw attention to this phenomenon and to the responsibility of the HCI community to address it.
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