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!

Friday, February 06, 2015

New book by McCarty and Wright "Taking [a]part"

In my mail yesterday was a copy of the new book by John McCarthy and Peter Wright called "Taking [a]part -- the politics and aesthetics of participation in experience-centered design" (MIT Press). It is exciting to see their new book since their last book has had such an impact on the field. I have not read the book yet, even though I did read an early manuscript a while back.

The focus of their earlier book was on the notion of experience in relation to technology. Now the focus is on participation.

This is a theme that has been around in our field since the 70s. Coming from Scandinavia, I grew up with the idea of participatory design as a phd student and was heavily influenced by the core individuals who developed the Scandinavian Participatory Design approach.

It is fascinating to see how the idea of participation has stayed relevant over the years and it is obvious that there is some kind of 'revival' at the moment. I can see that in the new interest among young phd students and others to read 'old' texts about PD and their ambition to incorporate that in new ways in their own work. This is why this book by McCarthy and Wright is to timely and relevant. Looking forward to read it more carefully.

[This book is published in the MIT Press book series "Design Thinking, Design Theory", that Ken Friedman and I are editors for. This is the seventh book published in the series. We are waiting for two new books soon, one by Enzio Manzini and one by Kees Dorst.]