Personas, prevalent in information systems design and implementation, are often positioned as aesthetic creations imitating technology “end users”. As such, there is an inherent assumption that end user outcomes can be known prior to technology usage in practice. This assumption, however, becomes problematic in malleable end user software (MEUS) contexts, in which concrete usage is unknowable a priori. Through an auto-ethnographic account of a unique case of a small consultancy, the Ripple Effect Group, attuned to the nature of MEUS, we explore a novel approach to personas in social technology projects. We turn to the work of Gadamer (1975) to outline two distinct views of “mimesis” for contrasting the dominant portrayal of personas in the literature compared to our empirical context. Our paper challenges conventional thinking surrounding personas, and offers a practical approach, and preliminary theorizing, for personas as hermeneutic tools to convey meaning for those involved in MEUS projects.
Hardwicke, Natalie and Riemer, Kai, "Do You Understand Our Understanding? Personas as Hermeneutic Tools in Social Technology Projects" (2018). ACIS 2018 Proceedings. 89.