Last week was all about CHI 2006. This year the conference was held in Montreal. Even though I have been in the field of systems and interaction design for many, many years, this was my first CHI. I found it very stimulating. I met a lot of interesting new colleagues and old friends. I even found some of the papers and panels interesting.
The field is changing. A lot of discussion about the relation between design and research, between ethnography and design, between practice and reearch, between theory and practice. These issues are of course not new, but it is interesting to see how they play out in different sessions and discussions. And, of course, the issue if the field is really about information and not computers. The answer to this last question is for me neither information nor computers. It is all about the material -- bits as material (see earlier postings).
Maybe the most stimulating intellectual analysis was provided by the closing plenary key note speaker Scott McCloud, the cartoonist. His analysis of cartoons as a form of expression, its deep structure, its purpose and formats, was examined in his talk in a clear and entertaining way. We need more of this this kind of theoretical analysis, grounded in a close understanding of practice in HCI.
We need more challenging intellectual and theoretical ideas in the field. Even though McCloud was fun and good -- we should be able to achieve similar provocative and theoretical analysis by someone within the field. I would like to see a keynote that can make claims on the same level as McCloud but on the field of HCI. Claims that will be heard by all in the conference, and that can serve as a common discussion thread throughout the conference. Who can provide that?