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 :-)


Nicolas said...

Profoundly uninteresting paper. First slide, quote by Norman Cousins is a perfect example of what is plaguing us technocrats today; The intellectually infantile idea that a technology will come along and solve ephemeral human questions, that the outcome of our struggles as a species has to do with a technology(LOL), rather than with the constituent our hearts.

It's not the knife, it''s how it is used.

Leave the large eternal human questions to authors, philosophers and artists. Only a car mechanic likes listening to car-mechanics talking about cooking. The rest rather listen to the chefs throughout history. :)

Let's stop wasting time! Read more classics!

Erik Stolterman said...

Hi Nicolas,

Even though I don't agree with your overall reasoning, since I find it too simplified, I do agree with the last advise "read more classics" :-)

Nicolas said...

"The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker." Albert Einstein