ABSTRACT

Values are central to ‘quality’ and ‘purpose’,and to the development of products in response to needs,desires or opportunities. ... What we design and make may have implications for developers and users,and there may be resource issues or side effects. Take the motor car. Is it a quality product? It clearly meets one purpose,to move people at speed,in comfort and safety. The design has been constantly improved over the years,in terms of speed,safety,reliability and economy. Most cars,however,use petrol which is manufactured from oil,a scarce resource. They produce pollution which has serious environmental and health effects. There is a potentially contradictory idea of the car as a ‘quality product’ which is ‘fit for its purpose’. We weigh one value judgement against another in our decision to drive. The technology is not value free: value judgements are influenced by personal,social and cultural priorities. This balance between conflicting values can shape the community in which we live. An alternative view sees technology as increasingly pervasive,with harmful impact at a natural and a social level. For example,medical technologies have reduced death rates in developing countries,but have contributed to population growth. Progress has been viewed in technological terms, ... but technology can be shaped by the values and beliefs of a community. There is more research now into electrical cars,which pollute less,in response to environmental and social values which our society has begun to regard more highly. Values in the technology must match those of its users. When they do not,technological obsolescence occurs. An example of this would be the Sinclair C5 whose concept few people wanted.