In the last issue of ACM Interactions, Avi Parush writes about the "gap between HCI research and practice". It is an interesting text that tries to make the case for research that is both practical and theoretical. The argument is basically correct and is based on the old truth "there is never anything more practical than a good theory". It is however from my point of view a text that comes from the perspective of HCI as "science" (wich is all well and a valid perspective). But to me there is also another perspective and that is when we approach the "gap" from a design perspective, or with Nigel Cross' notion from a "discipline of design" instead of a "science of design". When we accept design practice as a true designerly activity, the notion of what research is and should be also changes. I will not here go into this longer discussion, instead end by saying that Avi Parush's text is a really good starting point for anyone who would like to discuss HCI research and its overall role and contribution. It is a well argued text with a taxonomy that can and should be analysed and evaluated. This is a valid challenge for any HCI researcher.
(BTW, I also think that putting "usability" at the top of the "pyramid" in the text is not really satisfying, I would like to have a another "designerly" pyramid with design instead of usability, design critique as a major form of inquiry, etc, but that is again another post.)