Showing posts from November, 2008

Design Thinking in 10 to 20 years

In my class yesterday we discussed the future of design, interaction design and HCI. I asked the students about their view about the future for the discipline, profession and for research in the field of interaction design. Then they asked me about my predictions. Of course, I had predictions but here I will only mention one.

For quite some years I have predicted that the growing interest in design, design thinking, and design research and education will have a profound influence on the fundamental structure and organization of disciplines, schools, and universities. I think it is already possible to see this. When we bring in design thinking as a major component in a field, suddenly it is possible to see simlarities with disciplines that was not there before. We have already seen some new d-schools, for instance at Stanford. Even though these initiatives have not been successful yet, my prediction is that they will.

We might in some years see new academic constellations where we have d…

Grand Challenge for HCI: Growing Ecologies of Interactive Artifacts

In a study from thePewInstitutewe get numbersonthingswe all havesuspected: peoplehaveproblems setting uptheir newtechnologicalartifacts.Thestudyshowsthat:

"Some 48% oftechnologyusersusuallyneedhelp from othersto set upnewdevicesorto show themhowtheyfunction.Manytechusersencounterproblemswiththeir cell phones, internetconnections, and othergadgets.This, in turn, oftenleadstoimpatience and frustration as theytryto get them fixed."

There are other interesting numbers in this report, numbers that should make all interaction designers around the world embarrassed. Numbers that show that there are a lot of angry and tired “users” out there. This is a sign of something we could label as a Grand Challenge for HCI and interaction design.

There are of course several explanations to this growing problem. One is that technological things are getting more complex. There is a desire from producers to cover many and diverse contexts, therefore they make the artifacts possible to adapt and tai…

A Design Research Map

In the latest issue of ACM Interactions there is an interesting article by Liz Sanders called "An Evolving Map of Design Practice and Design Research". Sanders exmines the status of design research, which I think she sees as the research done by design practitioners as a way to support the design process (even though I am not sure if that is a correct understanding). Sanders has created a "map" where she places design research approaches in relation to each other around two major dimensions: "design-led" versus "research-led" and "expert mindset" versus participatory mindset". I always find maps that lay out a conceptual or intellectual landscape intriguing and useful as tools for reflection. That is also the case here. Sanders map is useful and challenging. It is useful in the sense that it does work as an intellectual tool for reflection, both on an individual level and on a discipline level.

Any map becomes makes us think abo…

The broader responsibility of HCI research

Lately my mind has been occupied with the question of the purpose and responsibility of HCI research. Why do we reserch, for whom do we do it, what do we expect to ackomplish, and is it important? These are not new questions for me, I have dealt with them all through my career. And I am of course not the only one challenged by these issues. Today, I decided to write something about this topic on my blog and then realized that I have, together with my colleague Anna Croon Fors, already written about this in an article called "Critical HCI Research – A Research Position Proposal" (link to a pdf version). I think we make a quite good case in the first parts of the paper where we discuss the "big" question and its ramifications. In the second part of the paper we try to fomulate a position that would lead to research that we see important. I think the first part can (and should) be read by anyone doing HCI research (!), while the second part might be more difficult and…

What is a legitimate argument in HCI research?

In these times of CHI reviews (something that many HCI researchers are involved in) I have to point to a post by my colleague Jeff Bardzell. Quite often in these reviews, reviewers use different arguments to make their case. Not seldom using different types of arguments. In his post Jeff explores what is seen as accepted or not-accepted arguments in HCI research. The post is based on one of his recent review expriences of a CHI paper where different views on "rigor" clashed. This post is highly informative and interesting. HCI researchers around the world: read and reflect....

Theory Informing Design

As I am preparing class for tomorrow I am once again reading Yvonne Rogers chapter on "New Theoretical Approaches for Human-Computer Interaction". And as usual when I read this text I realize how well it serves the purpose of initiating and establishing a discussion on the role of theory in interaction design practice. Rogers manages both to analyze existing theoretical attempts and to present some empirical material on how much, if at all, these theories are used by practicing designers. She also comes up with some ideas on why this is the case and also presents some suggestions on how to improve the situation.

In the same class I also use my own paper "The Nature of Design Practice and Implications for Interaction Design Practice" in International Journal of Design. This paper is to a large extent based on the chapter by Rogers. The main argument is that design research aimed at improving design practice has to be grounded in a deep understanding of the nature of …