Creativity is no longer the sole territory of the designer. User-driven design has never been easier for the public to generate and distribute. Users of websites such as Flickr, Threadless, WordPress, YouTube, Etsy, and Lulu approach design with the expectation that they will be able to fill in the content. How will such a fundamental shift toward bottom-up creation affect the design industry? Participate considers historical and contemporary models of creation that provide ideas for harnessing user-generated content through participatory design. The authors discuss how designers can lead the new breed of widely distributed amateur creatives rather than be overrun by them.
Helen Armstrong is a graphic designer and an educator. She is an assistant professor of graphic design at Miami University and principal and creative director of Strong Design in Baltimore. Zvezdana Stojmirovic is a designer and an educator. She currently teaches at MICA, Maryland Institute College of Art.