As seems human nature, people get caught up on the name of something and not the real problem. Tog’s query proves that. But I also see it below. To me “user” implies a person who wants to do something. I have to come up with a way to help them do it effectively, efficiently, and with satisfaction. Which is why, in UCD, there is so much emphasis on the requirements analysis. Find out who they are, what they want. Requirements analysis comes first. So I would say that those who actually have the opportunity to use UCD are not jumping to the “thing” first.
Part of what I just said speaks back to the underlying, and not well presented idea that Tog is displaying: Are we of the acrimoniously acronymed titles allowed to practice UCD? I am, completely. I am also lucky. If there is such a problem with a feeling of relevance/influence, start showing the people you work for the success that UCD came bring.
This constant freaking out about titles is akin to a SME, or business client who, when asked what they want to accomplish on the project (scope), say, “We want a left nav and we need to use Arial to support our brand.” Name it when you are done building it.
How about actually defining the need for change first? How about finding out how many of us there are, and if we really feel disenfranchised?
The point is that too many are unwilling to admit the huge contextual implications of the term User. It implies the use of something. When that becomes your focus, you’ve immediately failed.
Individuals are focused on ‘doing’ something. In that endeavor, they often have to rely on ‘things’ to assist them. To go first to the ‘things’ (or have it as a central theme when you approach the ‘needs of the individual’) immediately introduces bias to the possibilities.