Saturday, February 16, 2008
I became interested in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) initially because of my frustration with user-unfriendly desktop applications during the course of my work in the schools as a school psychologist. Over the years, I hoped that there would be some significant improvement in the types of technology and applications available to support me in my daily work.
I was too much of a dreamer to believe that years later, I'd still be interacting with "productivity" applications, unusable -or inaccessible- database systems, and "lame" educational applications for students. Although there is a need to improve the usability of traditional applications, I've come to realize that this is not for me.
Why is this so?
In addition to my training and work experience related to school psychology, social science, counseling and education, I also have a background in art, music, and dance, so I appreciate good design and the importance of multiple modes of interaction and communication. I look forward to the future.
I'm fascinated by interactive multimedia, large interactive displays, and hand-held gadgets of all kinds. I'm the proud co-owner of a Wii, and I'm not ashamed to say that I am a fan of the work of Johnny Chung Lee. I'm enthused about the work of Harry "Gravano" van der Veen and the NUI group, and also Jeff Han, from Perceptive Pixel. I'm excited about the work of people such as Bill Buxton (Multitouch Systems that I have Known and Loved; Sketching User Experiences), Dan Shafer (Designing for Interaction), Adam Greenfield (Everyware: The Dawning of the Age of Ubiquitous Computing), Rich White (EduSim) , Julian Lomberdi (Croquet), and the people behind "Putting People First", among others.
Part of the reason I maintain my blogs is to support the hard work of people who are doing great things out of the limelight - and to share the good news with people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to learn about these user-centered innovations. Sort of like cheer-leading...
When I'm out and about, I sometimes take quick pictures and video-clips of things related to interaction. Although my goal is to find examples for the "Usability Hall of Fame", most of what I've collected would be appropriate for the "Usability Hall of Shame".
Examples of user-unfriendly applications, interfaces, and devices can be found in some of my blog posts:
Usability and interaction difficulties with large touch-screen displays at an upscale shopping center...
Accessing Road Runner web-mail when you've forgotten your password...
Usability/Interaction Hall of Shame: What were they thinking?!
On the Positive
I'm always on the lookout for interesting research that is consistent with the off-the desktop theme of this blog. Here are a few things that have recently crossed my path:
Stanford University's HCI Group
How Bodies Matter: Five Themes for Interaction Design
(Scott R. Klemmer and colleagues)
"ABSTRACT: Our physical bodies play a central role in shaping human experience in the world, understanding of the world, and interactions in the world. This paper draws on theories of embodiment — from psychology, sociology, and philosophy — synthesizing five themes we believe are particularly salient for interaction design: thinking through doing, performance, visibility, risk, and thick practice. We introduce aspects of human embodied engagement in the world with the goal of inspiring new interaction design approaches and evaluations that better integrate the physical and computational worlds."
Scott Klemmer's Website
"My research goal is to create the tools and representations that will enable everyone, not just technology experts, to design interactive systems for pervasive computing..."
Here are two examples of how people use their bodies to interact with music. The quality of the first video is poor, but the interactions are fun to watch and hear:
Musical Soundscape Museum Exhibit
Multi-Touch Music Wall
(note: loud volume)
First IxDA Interaction 08 Conference
The first IxDA conference was held from February 8-10 at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I was unable to attend, but from the information presented on the conference website and the videos that were made available to the public after the conference, I know that it was a conference that should not have been missed!
Links to the conference videos, via Putting People First
Interactive Design Association (IxDA)
"Interaction Design (IxD) is the branch of user experience design that defines the structure and behavior of interactive products and services."