I saw a talk online from Mix11, a Microsoft conference, where a designer said that the days of user-centric design were numbered. He also said that he was talking about a major shift in understanding our relationship with technology, and that this comes at the expense of seeing ourselves at the centre of the digital ecology. But if we are not designing for users, then by what principles do we guide our design? I think it would have to be via tasks and communication. We have something to do. Humans may or may not be involved, but if you're going to think of that, then you have also to think that computers might not be involved. This could easily be a discussion about human-to-human technology involving nothing but language.
The point is that there are tasks to do to accomplish some goal, and there are players involved who need to provide or receive certain information. The best way to do so might be on paper or it might be with a fully-automated internet-enabled system. To be a designer, you can't think in terms of "what can a computer do for a user in this context" but "what does everyone need to do to complete this task?" As soon as a computer is involved, however, and someone needs to use it to accomplish part of the task, you need to design the interface in a way that makes sense to humans, is easy to learn and easy to use. If you don't design that part for humans, it's pretty pointless.
Mokalus of Borg
PS - Some software makes me wonder whether anyone considered users at all.
PPS - But that's not new.