We have found over the past three years that articles in <interactions> are frequently cited in academic courses or used to make a point in a practitioner setting. During our tenure as editors-in-chief we’ve put together a special section in almost every issue. This is a look back at the articles we believe can really make a difference and change your way of thinking. We invite you to visit the archives and reflect with us on some of the more outstanding contributions and how you can use them.
“Immersion”: Storytelling Evolves on the Web
Case study by Jim Miller
This issue included a case study that set the bar for case-study contents. Hats off to Jim Miller’s first-rate “Storytelling Evolves on the Web.” Using a Web medium as collaborative, game-like storytelling, this experiment looked at the use of the Web as a promotional device. The storyline unfolded with its collaborators, but required extensive planning and support. This case study described the design principles, including a description of planning and execution, illustrations of the site and related blogs, extracts of the storyline, and purposes and problems in this experiment. It also included an analysis of what could have been done better and how roadblocks could have been avoided. Accompanied by a good set of references and a Q&A-style interview with the author, this is a nice example of relating purpose, work, outcome, and reflection on the overall project. This article makes a good study case for discussions on design, collaboration, problem solving, and evaluation.
Special Guest Editor: Jean Scholtz
This first special section pulled together a collection of articles that clearly debunk the romanticism of humanoid robots, instead reporting on real-world robots and their “employment” in a variety of contexts, complemented by an interview with Bruce Sterling conducted by Aaron Marcus and Rewind articles reporting on robot-oriented workshops. This collection of articles by leading practitioners in human-robot interaction will expand your concept of robots and their place in HCI.
Whose Profession Is It, Anyway?
Special Guest Editor: Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Authors from many different perspectives and organizations took the opportunity to voice their opinions in a lively and spirited debate on the topic, “Who owns UX?” Far from coming to a conclusion, the articles in this issue can be used to reinforce your point of viewor contest it. Advice on how to influence the influencers to improve the stature of UX, how to lead through having a vision, viewing UX as an approach rather than a discipline, and contentious definitions of design all provided great fuel for debate and analysis. This is not your average whining tirade; there is actionable advice, and even admissions of guilt. An additional resource in this issue are three pieces describing the activities of UXnet, IXDG (now IXDA) and STCall organizations still going strong and worthy of your involvement.
Ambient Intelligence: Exploring our Living
Special Guest Editor: Manfred Tscheligi
Well underway in Europe but an unfamiliar concept in the U.S., this extensive special section included contributions on ambient intelligence, persuasive technologies, home dialogue systems, service avatars, attentive objects, interactive spaces, and other elements of ubiquitous computing. For a review of work in this area, these articles and their references provided an excellent grounding. On another note, also in this issue, Don Norman made a provocative statement: Our job is to make the company succeed, for without that, it doesn’t matter if the user experience is wonderful. Start your Norman Reader here; clipping these articles makes great debate material for your design team, your classroom, and your friends and colleagues.
HCI and Higher Education
Special Guest Editor: Jonathan Arnowitz
An interesting collection of opportunities for higher learning in HCI took a look at programs across the U.S., the Netherlands, and Germany. Whether you are hiring or seeking further educational opportunities, you can use this issue to determine the criteria that are important to you in an advanced HCI education with costs and contacts for many diverse programs. Again, a practical viewpoint from Don Norman: Stop at a master’s degree if you’re going to be a practitioner, but whatever you do, keep learning.
This issue presented a collection of unrelated articles; one of our favorites is “UCD in Agile Projects: Dream Team or Odd Couple?” describing the marriage of agile methods and user-centered design, and how the two can work together. Any course in project management, or efforts focusing on the software-development process, can take advantage of this survey of traditional design methods and how they integrate into a changing software development model.
The Art of Prototyping
Special Guest Editor: Michael Arent
Best practices and surprising practices in prototyping software gave readers a fresh look at some high- and low-tech methods and how and when they are successfully used. For various perspectives on how best to illustrate design intent, this collection clearly communicated that there are multiple methods and practices that a well-rounded methodological toolkit should acknowledge. Carolyn Gale’s Bridging the Gap column offered practical advice on communicating your research to a non-researcher audience. We know there are a lot of people who should be paying attention here. If you know some as well, clip and forward.
“Offshoring?” Welcome to the New Global Village
Special Guest Editor: Eric Schaffer
There couldn’t have been a more timely collection of articles conveying the state of affairs as design and engineering jobs transition from expensive First World development communities to create a burgeoning Third World industry. If this phenomenon has not affected you and your workplace yet, anticipate change. The articles not only covered the methods and experiences of off-shore HCI groups in India and China, but also humanized these HCI professionals, whom the Western world is only starting to get to know. For a sobering view of worldwide differences, check out the “Salaries Around the World” table (p. 33). This issue also premiered the Under Development column by Gary Marsden with his introductory “Designing Technology for the Developing World.” Start your Marsden collection here for some perspective-changing views on enabling technology and meeting the needs of a different sort of user. Brian Frank’s occasional column Open for Business premiered here with a treatment of product marketing and planning beta programs. HCI professionals, students, and practitioners alike need to be informed of the bigger picture of product development. It’s not all about design.
A Contradiction in Terms? HCI + Security
Special Guest Editor: Ryan West
HCI and security are often looked at as at opposing ends of the spectrum of computer interaction. This collection of articles disabused us of this notion with articles scrutinizing the methods and value of security and privacy measures. If you need to convince anyone that there is a significant usability element to security, this is the material to use, as it includes the role of security as an essential part of our design problem space. Also in this issue was a subject seldom raised: “HCI and Cognitive Disabilities” by Clayton Lewis. Judging from the interest in Alan Dix’s talk at CHI 2007 on the same subject, we anticipate this area will pick up a lot of steam and become central to design considerations for a broad and varied populace.
Gadgets ‘06: Communication Takes Center Stage
Special Guest Editors: Bruno von Niman & Manfred Tscheligi
This first of two special issues on gadgets looked at specific interfaces from Japan, China, Korea, Finland, Austria, and more. If you are interested in mobile interfaces, there’s much more to them than fitting content into a very small screen. This is a great selection for a view of the breadth of this industry area. Particularly valuable is Joshua Larrabee’s “Dear Notebook: Font Memoirs.” Whether or not you design for mobile devices, the “anatomy of a font” article is a great, concise informational piece about considerations for readability and the technical language around fonts and font optimization. We also recommend Lars Erik Holmquist’s “Tagging the World”; if you haven’t caught up with tagging, this isn’t the tag-cloud variety. It’s a treatment of physical tags ending with some possibilities for how they can work with their electronic brethren.
Gadgets, Part 2: The Science of Gadgetry
Special Guest Editor: Bruno von Niman
A technical treatment of gadgets brought us a really great article on text entry in the mobile space: “Increasing Text-Entry Usability in Mobile Devices for Languages Used in Europe” (Boecker, von Niman, and Larsson). This is one of the most challenging areas in mobile usability. If you work in mobile OS or in applications that must take advantage of text entry in a handheld environment, this article will help you understand the extant text-entry standards developed to solve problems for major languages. If you don’t have these particular needs, but want to understand text encoding and why standards in this area are important, give it a read.
Waits & Measures: Quantifying Usability
Special Guest Editor: Jeff Sauro
We asked Jeff to explain in layman’s terms the scientific side of usability testing: sample size, the CIF standard, and the essential article that everyone needs in their usability artillery, “Making the Fuzzy Parts of ROI Clear” by John Sorflaten. Chauncey Wilson’s “Triangulation: The Explicit Use of Multiple Methods, Measures, and Approaches for Determining Core Issues in Product Development” is an excellent article on best practices that served as a complement to the usability special section. Any course on usability, methods, and metrics could benefit from this issue.
Help! User Assistance and HCI
Special Guest Editor: Fred Sampson
User-centered help and documentation isn’t generally a central topic in HCI texts, so this is the issue to find out about the trends and activities around user assistance. That user-assistance professionals are full-fledged partners with sales and marketing, customers, designers, and developers was a welcome reminder to consciously construct the composition of software-development project teams. Also in this issue, Gary Marsden’s “Open Source Bicycles,” which provided a sobering view into a world where users may skip a meal to do the imperative: use a mobile phone. This article will help jolt you out of your reality and add some flexibility to your point of view: Life in the Third World is very, very different.
25 Years of CHI Conferences: A Photographic Essay
Special Guest Editor: Ben Shniederman
History, vanity, or communityyou decide, and see if you can find yourself or someone you know in the 25 years of CHI conference photographs assembled by our SIGCHI itinerant photographer, Ben Shneiderman. Also in this issue was one of Jonathan Grudin’s excellent histories, this time on media and the digital culture, and where parental controls are headed. For those interested in social issues and the societal impact of HCI, take note.
Business Leadership and the UX Manager
Special Guest Editor: Dan Rosenberg
The management side of UX is addressed in this collection of articles focused on the top-down perspective of senior UX management who have successfully nurtured UX in their respective organizations. Primarily U.S. and large-scale, but also offering advice applicable to small teams, this collection addressed the big picture of software development and where HCI fits. It pushed the discussion up a level to the process of providing the environment and organizational design that will help make UX effective. A treat in this collection was another article on the blend of UCD and extreme-development methods in “Managing UCD Within Agile Projects.” We also recommend another provocative prognostication from Don Norman: the return of command lines, well worth a classroom-design exercise or a design-team discussion. It’s time for new organizational metaphors, and this can kick start that conversation.
Designing for Seniors: Innovations for Graying
Special Guest Editor: Jonathan Livingston
Everyone ages, and the products and designs you successfully used in your youth may not serve you well as you age. This issue collected articles addressing specific designs for an older generation (mobile phones and assisted-living in the CareLab), approaches to living with technology (speech recognition, intelligent prompting, sensors), and three articles that surveyed likely problems for elderly users. The perspectives and approaches in this special section may give you clues to how you can create appropriate designs for a nonmainstream audience, even if that’s not an older generation.
Societal Interfaces: Solving Problems, Affecting
Special Guest Editor: Manfred Tscheligi
This collection of articles gathered different viewpoints on HCI solutions to societal problems: semiliterate people living with HIV and AIDS, protecting children against the misuse of technology, and other issues. From transportation to telecare, there is food for thought here in how we use technology. Elsewhere in the issue, for an introduction to the history of virtual worlds (with references to cyberpunk and Second Life), see Bruce Damer’s “Meeting in the Ether” in Jonathan Grudin’s Timelines column.
Free At Last: Open Source!
Special Guest Editors: Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson and Yann Cheri
Indeed, open source versions of most of the expensive products you use every day are free and available from the Internet. This collection of articles offers a digestible exploration of the business issues around open source projects, including managing, licensing, and organizing projects. For a peek into true community-based development, this is a great resource for an underexposed side of product development. And elsewhere, don’t miss Aaron Marcus’s review of HCII 2007 in Beijing. The world of HCI and design is exploding in the Pacific Rim, and we should all be paying attention to developments in China, Japan, and Korea.
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