Archive for May, 2011

CHI 2011: Clayton Lewis Social Impact Award

May 12, 2011 Leave a comment

What a well-deserved honor–Clayton Lewis received the CHI  Social Impact Award.  I’m honored and humbled to be able to work with him in this upcoming year.

Clayton started his talk with a look at his work on representation of knowledge–which allows us to switch out one for another (e.g., switch a text output for an audio output).  A great tool for switching representations for people while keeping representations of knowledge.

How do you translate English into easy-to-understand English?  Some companies do it for you, like Amazon’s full version (tons of links) and their mobile version (very few).  So quite simply, one could have your desktop computer display a mobile version of a page or site.  But really what we need is a “Google Translate” to translate from English to a simpler English.  Or maybe we need a representation form that captures what’s most important and always communicates it front-and-center for all users.

Alan Newell also received the award: he has an InterCHI 1991 paper that brings up a comparison between abled people in extraordinary situations with people with disabilities performing everyday tasks.  He points out that many devices (e.g., typewriter, tape recorder, texting) all first were designed for people with disabilities.  Bottom line: design ab initio for older people.


CHI 2011: Stu Card Festschrift

May 10, 2011 Leave a comment

A great collection of important people came together to “festschrift” Stu Card.  They all had lots to say; these are a few that I wanted to remember.

Ed Chi: treat co-workers like family, and connect co-workers with history

Pete Pirolli: touched on key theories, including: Biological (millisecs to secs), Psychological (secs), Rational (mins to hours), Social (hours to days/weeks)

Bonnie John: Stu supportive of having kids (then served as a role model for how to exploit your kids in experiments, videos and how to make girls do everything boys do)

Judy Olson: watch Stu Card (he works on hard problems for a while then moves on)

Dan Russell: shift from artificial intelligence to human intelligence

Austin Henderson: theories don’t result in good design but they aid the design process

Ben Shneiderman: seek great colleagues like Stu, do things with them to help inspire you

CHI 2011: UX SIG

An interesting panel on the role of theory in UX. There was a provacative intro question: are we Babylonians (highly grounded in empirical methods) or Ionians (rooted in innovative theories)?  There was a movement toward unification, or perhaps categorization.  (Though the SIG leaders denied it.)

Some good breakouts too.  The memes vs claims debate came up.  Lots on putting theories in their place.  It was interesting that people’s favorite theories (or non-theories) fell pretty evenly into the leaders’ five categories: product-centerd, user-centered, intersaction-centered, other, missing/need, no need.
And one SIG leader brought up that the Babylonians couldn’t predict the locust infestations.  But it wasn’t brought up that most Ionians and the like didn’t either in a reliable way…

CHI 2011 Keynote: Howard Rheingold

Howard says a teacher should be a co-learner…I am all for that, as I have taught plenty of classes where I’ve learned as much as any student.  But I think that in there are plenty of situations when a more learned professor (a co-learner) should spend most of the time in front of a room of learner.  And I’m betting Howard would agree, given that he just spent most of an hour talking to us, leaving time for two brief questions.

He also uses the analogy that a surgeon or warrior from 1000 years ago wouldn’t recognize their workplace of today, but a teacher would know where to stand and basically what to do.  But there are lots of activities where a practitioner would know basically what to do: parenting, theater, and many games.  The tools change, but often the activities stay basically the same.