Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why HCI research should conduct more analytical studies of artifacts

Every time I see that someone in the field has created a historical overview of a specific artifact and how it has changed over the year, I get excited. Today I saw this image below at All Tech Considered in an article about the 25 year anniversary of Photoshop. The image shows the toolbar of all the versions of Photoshop over the years. I am quite sure that an in-depth analysis of these toolbars and the changes they manifest can tell us a lot about our field, how it has changed, what was considered "correct" design at the time, how styles and fashion have evolved, etc. I think it is also possible to from such an analysis find out how the view and image of the user have changed over time, and what are the crucial tasks and the overall purpose of the software. I think that a close examination can tell us things about our field that we have not understood or been able to see even though we have lived through it. So, more of this!!

Just a final note. The article from where I got the image does not conduct any real analysis of the kind I am discussing. So, if anyone wants to do it, go ahead!