Showing posts from May, 2012

Why "Just Enough Is More" is not Enough

In an article on FastCompany's site Co.Design, Tom Hobbs writes about the state of UI design. He argues that "the aesthetic of UIs has followed a dominant ideology that attempts to replicate the physical world". Hobbs is quite skeptical towards this form of "skeuomorphism". The basic argument that Hobbs make has been made before and is a reasonable one. At the same time when Hobbs argues against what he sees as a problematic, or even dogmatic, design philosophy he ends up advocating another philosophy, almost in a similarly dogmatic way.

I have no problem with Hobbs general statement "There’s a lot of making and thoughtful critical analysis to be done of the solutions we create before we evolve approaches and philosophies that are truly unique to the discipline of UI design." This is all good and well. But when he continues and writes that "To do this, we need to design UIs that are stripped down as much as they can be. This means avoiding superf…

Reading my old PhD dissertation

After six years in Indiana, I just got all my books shipped to me from Sweden. Among the books, I found a few copies of my PhD dissertation from 1991. The title is in Swedish "Designarbetets dolda rationalitet" [in English "The Hidden Rationality of Design Work "]. It was written in Swedish. Only one chapter is translated to English. Anyway, today I read parts of it and realized two things. First, I think the text is still quite good, which is kind of a surprise. I have not read or looked at it in more than ten years, maybe more. Secondly, I realized that almost all my scholarly work I do today can be traced back to my dissertation. This is not so much of a surprise, since I know other who have the same experience. You only do research on a very small set of ideas during your lifetime.

Anyway, even though the text was published in 1991, I am thinking about translating parts of it, or maybe more correct, translate and re-write parts of the text. It might finally bec…

Book note: "In Praise of Reason" by Michael P. Lynch

One of the most mundane activities that humans engage in is reasoning. We do it all the time. We try to find reasons for our own actions and for others (strange) behavior. At the same time, reasoning can be seen as the most advanced activity that humans engage in.

Reasons are the intellectual tools we use to convince others about our own perspective or solution. According the Michael P. Lynch, our society is facing a serious problem related to this daily human activity of reasoning. He argues that we have entered an era when many individuals and large groups do not accept the reasons of others as valid. There is a decrease in the trust of what he sees as the "common currency of reason", that is, there is less acceptance of the idea that we all, despite opinions and beliefs, are using the same fundamental set of rules and principles upon which we can constructively reason around a particular topic in a productive way. Instead, he argues that we see more people and groups expr…

CHI 2012

I am home after having spent almost a week at CHI 2012 in Austin, Texas. First two days I was chairing the doctoral consortium. The consortium is a way of looking into the future! The students are some of the best in the field and their work is what will be seen in CHI in a few years. I can not really say that there was a clear trend except that the diversity within HCI will grow even more.

The CHI conference itself was great. The last few years we have seen serious changes in the content of CHI. It is more diverse, more including of perspectives and approaches to HCI research. There were many papers that would never have been presented at CHI just a few years ago. Personally I am of course happy to see some more theoretically oriented papers and more design oriented papers. It was also exciting to see the interactivity exhibition, that is, all the new designs, artifacts and systems that manifest research in a more concrete way.

And then finally, all the people. Since I basically onl…

Book series on Design

The MIT Press book series labeled "Design thinking, design theory"with me and Ken Friedman as Series Editors has now published three books! We are delighted about this and we of course expect to be able to publish more in the years to come. The three already published are:

"Design Things" by A. Telier (aka, Thomas Binder, Pelle Ehn, Giorgio de Mechelis, Guilio Jacucci, Per Linde, and Ina Wagner), 2011.
"Adversarial Design" by Carld DiSalvo, 2012

"China's Design Revolution" by Lorraine Justice, 2012.

I hope you will enjoy these books and coming ones too. And maybe you also will be inspired to write your own book. If so, get in touch with me.