Why do you know of Woody Allen, but (probably) not Alex van Warmerdam? They both make comical, dark, interesting films; they both perform in their own films; van Warmerdam’s Abel is high on my list of top films. And yet one is far better known than the other.
"Culture" is probably the short answer. The culture that you are involved in can determine to a large extent what is brought to your attention, and what you see. Having moved to a different culture myself, I have found it an enrichment to my life: I am still aware of the old stuff, but there is a whole world of other stuff that helps put the world in perspective.
This issue features articles by two of our top user interface specialists and commentators. Now, I am not trying to suggest that Don Norman is the Woody Allen of user interfaces, but of course you know of him, and if you are like me, you buy his books sight unseen. I was delighted that Don agreed to write his piece for this issue.
Fewer people, however, have heard of Dick Rijken. If you read the SIGCHI Bulletin, and have been since 1994, you will have seen a special section in the July issue that year on teaching interaction design, edited and co-written by Dick Rijken. I found it an inspiring series of articles, and it contained ideas that I hadn’t seen mentioned before and only now seem to be becoming mainstream: ideas like information ecologies or using Christopher Alexander’s concept of pattern languages for describing interaction.
At the SIGCHI.NL conference at the end of last year, another of our big names in user interfaces, Bill Buxton, was the invited speaker, and Dick Rijken followed him on the program, talking on "Architecture and Media." Bill Buxton said to me afterward, "Interesting ideas; I hope he writes them down," and that prompted me to get Dick to write an article for interactions.
I hope you appreciate Dick’s article; by examining two different but comparable cultures, architecture and interaction design, he tries to draw out lessons and ideas for us. I hope that in five years’ time I will again be able to say that these ideas are becoming mainstream.
©1999 ACM 1072-5220/99/0500 $5.00
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