A new book just arrived in my mailbox. It is "Ways of Knowing in HCI" by Judith S. Olson and Wendy A. Kellogg. I have spent some time today going through the different chapters. I read some and browsed others. Overall I find this to an excellent contribution to the field of HCI research. The edited book contains 18 chapters, each describing a particular research approach, method or technique commonly used in HCI research.
Of course, most of these methods have been described elsewhere and in most cases also in more detail and depth, but the unique aspect of this book is that all chapters are written by HCI researchers who can relate each method to HCI research and also give examples of where it has been used, what it mean to use it in HCI research, what constitute a good job when using a particular method.
I fully agree with the Editors in their Epilogue when they state that we should read all chapters and not just the ones about methods we already are familiar with. I followed their advice and I found right away wonderful argumentations, explanations and critiques of methods that I am less used to. This reading influenced me right away and made me more favorable of them. I am impressed by the quality of the chapters, even though I find some chapters not reaching the level of what could be accepted in a collection like this.
To me this book is already a required reading for all PhD students in the field. I can not see any reason why any graduating PhD student would not be familiar with all these methods, at least at the level of knowing about them as presented here.
I am looking forward to see some reviews of this book (more in-depth analysis than my note here :-) to learn more about what is not covered in the book, what is not done well enough, etc. In the name of developing a discipline we need all members of the HCI research community to engage in a book like this. We need a discussion and debate about "ways of knowing in HCI" and this book creates a great platform for such a discourse.
I really want to thank the Editors and the authors of this book for taking the time to develop and write these chapters. This is not the kind of work that most scholars see as being the most important and rewarding, but it is necessary work. So, thanks for all the great work!