Thursday, May 22, 2008


In the March-April issue of ACM Interactions there is a great article on sketching that I hope all hci and interaction design students will read! It is titled "Pencils before Pixels" and is written by Mark Baskinger, CMU. You can also download worksheets from the author! Read and enjoy!!

"When users 'do' the ubicomp"

In the March-April issue of ACM Interactions I found a short text that I really liked. The title was "When Users 'Do' the Ubicomp" by Antti Oulasvirta. I liked it because it was one of the first ubicomp papers I have read that has a perspective based on how the everyday life is experienced by people when they try to handle all their artifacts. Of course, one reason that I liked it is that it really fits with research we are doing in a research group I am heading, focused on the "Ecology of Interactive Artifacts". It is all about the same questions, how do people handle their growing number of digital interactive artifacts, what strategies do they use, and how is it possible to describe these ecologies in ways that make sense, and how is it possible to support designers who are expected to design artifacts that fit these ecologies, and is it possible to design on the level of ecologies? These is still an unexplored and almost invisible questions in contemporary interaction research, but they will become more important in the coming years!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Human Computer Interaction (HCI): towards a critical research position

Together with Anna Croon Fors, one of my colleagues, I have worked on a paper with the title "Human Computer Interaction (HCI): towards a critical research position". The paper has today been published in the Design Philosophy Papers journal.

In the paper we argue that HCI researchers have a choice when it comes to whom and what they will "serve" with their research. We also make the case that if they make the choice to serve the common good and to investigate the implications of interactive technology there are some methodological considerations that need to be observed and recognized. We also give some guidance on how such critical research can be conducted. The overall argument is that there is a need for a critical research position in the area of HCI research. Well, if you are interested, the paper is possible to read here.

This is not a paper for the easy minded :-) It is quite condensed and full of philosophical considerations and references... but some people like that :-)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Being Human -- HCI in the year of 2020"

Recently a report has been presented by Microsoft Research that outlines the future of HCI. The report is built on a workshop with a group of highly respected HCI researchers, and is edited by Richard Harper, Tom Rodden, Yvonne Rogers, and Abigail Sellen. The report can be downloaded here.

The report is divided into four parts (i) Our Changing World, (ii) Transformations in Interaction, (iii) HCI: Looking Forward and (iv) Recommendations.

I found the first two parts interesting and thoughtful. The first part nicely describes the evolving complexity and richness of the contemporary society as it relates to digital technology.

I found part (ii) Transformations in Interaction to be the most interesting and important. Even though we all know what is happening with interactive technology and its applications and how it is all developing and changing, it seems as if it has to be stated and reformulated over and over again. If these changes are taken seriously, the field of HCI has to drastically change to be able to take on these challenges. I really liked the questions that ended each section. They are simple, to the point, easy to understand, but really difficult to solve or answer!

The first two parts are excellent reading for anyone entering HCI as a student or as a professional (or researcher).

Part (iii), which is about looking forward was maybe a bit disappointing to me. It was not as forward looking as I hoped it to be. I got the impression that most of what is presented in this section is already being explored by many researchers in the field, of course it can and will be further developed, but I did not really find any real challenges or any new directions that opened up for new research or design ideas.

The last part, the "Recommendations", again was great and contains a number of fascinating formulations, some quite expected, but also some intriguing and unexpected.

Overall, the report is well worth a read by anyone who has an interest in future of interactive artifacts and systems and the future or our society and our individual lives. I recommend it and has already asked all our students to read it :-)

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Nature of Design Practice and Implications for Interaction Design Research

For a long time I have been working on a paper about the need for interaction design research to be grounded in a better understanding of design practice. This paper has finally been published in the International Journal of Design and if your are interested the paper can be downloaded here.

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