Table of Contents

VOLUME XV.5 September + October 2008

  • WELCOME
    • EDITORIALInteractions

      Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko

      One of the main reasons interaction design is so magical—and so elusive—is because it touches on the very footprint of our collective soul: As we design explicitly for behavior, we affect implicitly our local culture and the fabric of our world. Transcending our local culture is our global dependence on…

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  • The importance of personal relationships
    • FEATUREExperiential aesthetics

      Uday Gajendar

      Why have a framework for understanding beauty? Isn’t beauty simply obvious, like the infamous Supreme Court quip about pornography—“You know it when you see it?” Perhaps for natural forms of beauty—flowers, landscapes, animals, human bodies—subjective taste may suffice for coffee-table pundits and aesthetic philosophers alike. But in the high-stakes world…

    • FEATUREIntimate interactions

      Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell

      Few people would say that they wished their romantic lives were more like computing: efficient, automated, inorganic, and lightning fast. Yet technology is becoming increasingly implicated in the most intimate aspects of our lives and selves. At the same time we see calls in HCI to make technology more human…

    • SUSTAINABLY OURSPersonal inventories in the context of sustainability and interaction design

      Will Odom, Eli Blevis, Erik Stolterman

      What kind of relationships do people develop with the things they have at home? What is it that makes them keep and cherish certain things and discard others? And how is it possible to study these relationships in a way that could inform the design of sustainable interactive artifacts? The…

    • LIFELONG INTERACTIONSMemory impairment is a family affair

      Mike Wu

      Amnesia is often used as a cinematic device to advance a movie’s plot. Heroes lose their memories after a bump on the head, only to recover them following a subsequent bump. Yet what makes for popcorn-filled summer blockbusters rarely parallels how amnesia is truly experienced. Before I began designing aids…

    • FEATURELife at the margins

      Christopher Le Dantec

      Are food and shelter more important than a mobile phone? For the urban homeless, the answer to this question is unclear. Public phones are disappearing from cities, job services are increasingly accessible mainly through digital means, and modern society has become ever more accustomed to instant availability and dependent on…

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  • Old models no longer suffice
    • COVER STORYToto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…

      Meredith Davis

      There is an ever-widening gap between where we are going in the practice of design and longstanding assumptions about design education. I’m not talking about the often-heard debates of skills versus concepts, theory versus practice, or professional versus liberal arts education. Instead, this is about the disorienting relationship between the…

    • ON MODELINGDesign in the age of biology

      Hugh Dubberly

      In the early 20th century, our understanding of physics changed rapidly; now our understanding of biology is undergoing a similar rapid shift. Freeman Dyson wrote: “It is likely that biotechnology will dominate our lives and our economic activities during the second half of the twenty-first century, just as computer technology…

    • Ps and QsOpen, closed, or ajar?

      Elizabeth Churchill, Mark Vanderbeeken

      In May 2008 Harvard’s Law School announced it would open access to the intellectual content created by its faculty members. This means content that is produced by faculty at Harvard will be available for us all to read. A driving issue behind this turn of events is the cost of…

    • THE WAY I SEE ITSimplicity is not the answer

      Donald Norman

      Everyone wants simplicity. The same desires are there, whether the device is a new cell phone or a shop tool, the dashboard of an automobile or the choices offered while shopping in a store. “Why can’t my technology be as easy to use as my garage-door opener?” asks one paper…

    • OK/CANCELApplied science

      Tom Chi, Kevin Cheng

      Footnotes DOI: http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1390085.1390095 ©2008 ACM1072-5220/08/0900$5.00 Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full…

    • FEATUREWhat should be automated?

      Matti Tedre

      One of the most influential figures in the early development of computer science, George Forsythe, argued in 1968 that “the question ‘What can be automated?’ is one of the most inspiring philosophical and practical questions of contemporary civilization [1].” Almost 20 years later, Peter Denning wrote that computer science is…

    • TRUE TALESLiving in the overlap

      Steve Portigal

      Here’s a bunch of stuff I haven’t tried: “Project Runway,” “High School Musical,” “American Pie” movies, robot wars, molecular gastronomy, Halo 3, “Dancing With the Stars,” “Frisky Dingo,” sudoku, biopics, “House,” “Desperate Housewives,” Portishead, Fifty Cent, Dane Cook, The Da Vinci Code, The Life of Pi, Marley & Me, The…

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  • Factors to no longer overlook
    • FEATUREIgnorance of interaction programming is killing people

      Harold Thimbleby

      Almost a century ago, the April 9, 1929, issue of the International Herald Tribune reported the death of three young brothers. All of them had been given a dose of thallium acetate 10 times what was intended, because of a decimal-point error. Decimal-point errors occur regularly. For instance, on October…

    • FEATUREMental and conceptual models, and the problem of contingency

      Charles Hannon

      An 1878 brochure (at left) from the New England Telephone company, “How to Make a Telephone Call,” explains, with illustrations, the use of its new instrument. One of the drawings “represents a person calling attention by pressing the knob at the end of Bell Box, and turning the crank, causing…

    • TIMELINESWhy Engelbart wasn’t given the keys to Fort Knox

      Jonathan Grudin

      When I was in school, history was presented as an immutable timeline, stretching from the dawn of writing to about World War II, after which it was too controversial for children. My forays into the early days of HCI have revealed less constancy; history changes as our perspective changes. We…

    • FEATURELet’s get physical

      Gretchen Anderson

      Increasingly, interactions are taking place on screens and devices outside the desktop/PC environment in products sometimes referred to as “convergent.” Converging are the traditionally distinct worlds of screen-based interaction design and the industrial design of physical objects. As a result, interdisciplinary design teams must collaborate to choose physical controls that…

    • FEATUREThe researcher-tool mismatch

      Rob Tannen

      Pity the typical user researcher—hand cramped from writing pages of subsequently illegible observation notes, arm sore from trying to hold a camera steady for hours on end, head aching from trying to assimilate so much information. And if all goes well, that was the easy part. Returning to the office,…

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  • Interactions Cafe
    • On addressing wicked problems…

      Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko

      Jon: A lot of the discourse that surrounds interaction design speaks to the large, cultural change it can afford. When I used to teach, my students would become enamored with the possibilities of design and would make grandiose and unintentionally trivializing statements like “World hunger? It’s just a design problem;…

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