The Qualitheque

by Odd Steen
Tags: research project


1996 - 1998


KFB (Kommunikationsforskningsberedningen). Circa 1,2 MSek


The Qualitheque was a sequel project  to the IT Design Quality - paradigmatic form and function project. The latter project never accomplished the intended style theory of paradigmatic examples (i.e. exemplars). So, we draw the conclusion that we had to return to the power of examples in themselves.

The Qualitheque was designed to be a web site for descriptions, based on the project's quality-in-use model, of systems in use. These descriptions were meant to constitute a universal repository for debate, learning, impression, and inspiration. Through the power of examples, the design ability and skill of systems developers could be enhanced.

The project thus built a html as well as a pure Java web site to house and display the repository. There was an editorial board which accepted descriptions and presentations according to the quality-in-use model and style guide of the Qualitheque. When the contribution was considered of enough quality it was added to the Qualitheque and thus accessible for the world.

To attract  attention and contributions the Qualitheque was supposed to yield academic credits and reputation. Also, the objective was to achieve a collection of exemplary designs. Thus, a contribution competition and award ceremony was planned. For the award panel several well-known and established academics and professionals were engaged.

Unfortunately, the Qualitheque never really took off as planned. To design and  "package" a contribution required much work with questionable benefits for the authors. Eventually the Qualitheque died a slow death with only five contributions published.


The second artefact model

The second artefact model (modified after Ehn et al., 1996, p. 22)


Ehn, P., Gustafsson, N., Meggerle, T., Svedemar, M. & Steen, O. (1996): The Qualitheque – communicating quality. Projektansökan KFB, insitutionen för informatik, Lunds universitet, Lund. (The Qualitheque – communicating quality. Project application to KFB.)

Ehn, P & Löwgren, J. (1996): The Qualitheque systems at an exhibition. interactions, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 53-55.

Ehn, P., Meggerle, T., Steen, O. & Svedemar, M. (1996): Communicating Quality. In Blomberg, J., Kensing, F. & Dykstra-Erickson, E., (Eds.): Proceedings of PDC ‘96. Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Palo Alto.

Ehn, P., Meggerle, T., Steen, O. & Svedemar, M. (1997): Workshop: Communicating Quality. Proceedings of the 2nd. European Academy of Design Conference, Stockholm.

Meggerle, T. & Steen, O. (1997): Är estetiken och kulturen viktig för gränssnittsdesign? designjournalen, vol. 4, nr. 2, s. 19-32. (in Swedish) 

Meggerle, T. & Steen, O. (1998): A Critical Evaluation of a Project. In Buch, N. J., Damsgaard, J., Eriksen, L. B., Iversen, J. H. & Nielsen, P. A., (Eds.): IRIS 21 : information systems research in collaboration with industry : proceedings of the 21th Information Systems Research Seminar in Scandinavia, 8-11 August 1998 at Sæby Søbad, Denmark. Department of Computer Science, Aalborg University, Aalborg.



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