Debating the whys and who fors of personalisation

The contemporary question of whether personalisation empowers or instead exploits will be explored during a debate at Nottingham Trent University.

Customising clothes online or receiving medical treatment tailored to your genetic makeup – the personal touch is widely positively viewed. However, internet browsers which instigate targeted advertising and facial recognition used in retail marketing reveal a darker side of personalisation. This contemporary question of whether personalisation empowers or exploits will be explored during a debate at Nottingham Trent University.

Professor Tom Fisher from the University's School of Art & Design will chair the discussion, called Design and Personalisation: Does it empower or exploit? on 24 September from 6 pm. The aim of the debate is to delve into whether personalisation is done by a person or for a person.

He said: "We tend to think choice is a good thing. We define our personalities by the choices we make – I'm a skinny latte person, you're an espresso. Feeling we have choices makes us feel in control. We are offered choice in retail settings and now we can personalise clothes and shoes on line. If we are rich we may have a personal trainer to give us a personalized fitness plan – or our doctor may be able to tailor our therapy to our physical type.

"But who is in charge of this personalisation, is it always based on sound assumptions and are its consequences always positive? When we use the internet we may like to personalise our browser, but not like to receive personalised advertising. Should public health provision be designed to offer choice for individuals if that means less provision for all?"

Feeling we have choices makes us feel in control.
Dr Tom Fisher, Professor of Art & Design

The debate will bring together academics and public service experts to speak on these questions and to invite contributions and personal experiences from the audience, questioning if personalisation empowers or exploits.

It will be held at the University's City site in the Newton building and launches a series of debates featuring leading panellists who will explore topical questions within the arts. These have been arranged to celebrate Nottingham Trent University's 170th anniversary of art and design heritage and aim to provoke critical debates on the future of Art & Design Education.

Debating the place of art and design is very much in keeping with the University's inquiring, forward-looking ethos.

Marjolijn Brussaard, Dean of the School of Art & Design

The panellists include high-profile names from industry and education, such as respected photographer Martin Parr who will form part of the panel discussing "Who owns the image?" in December while Crafts Magazine editor Grant Gibson will be among those questioning the impact of technology on handmade craft in November.

Marjolijn Brussaard, Dean of the School of Art & Design, said: "Debating the place of art and design is very much in keeping with the University's inquiring, forward-looking ethos. Holding these debates to celebrate our 170-plus years of continuous art and design education in Nottingham we deliberately focus on how art education is helping to shape our future."

  • Notes for editors

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    Panellists for the Design and Personalisation: does it empower or exploit? debate, are:

    • Professor Tom Fisher, Research Coordinator for the School of Art and Design, NTU.
    • Professor Dr Olga Golubnitschaja, Head of Molecular Diagnostics, Radiological Clinic, Friedrich-Wilhelms-University of Bonn;
    • Secretary-General European Association for Predictive, Preventative and Personalised Medicine, Brussels.
    • Professor Tony Kent, Professor of Fashion Marketing, NTU.
    • Dr Sarah Kettley, Senior Lecturer, Product Design, NTU.
    • Dr Matt Sinclair, Lecturer, Loughborough University; founder Matt Sinclair Design, specialising in product and brand experiences in consumer and professional electronics.

    For further details about the 170th anniversary events, please visit the website.

Debating the whys and who fors of personalisation

Published on 19 September 2014
  • Category: Business; Research

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