Jonathan Grudin

Jonathan Grudin is a principal design researcher at Microsoft.

Posts By Jonathan Grudin

A history of human-computer interaction

Posted: Fri, March 24, 2017 - 10:46:36

A journey ended with the publication in January of my book, From Tool to Partner: The Evolution of Human-Computer Action.The beginningRon Baecker’s 1987 Readings in Human-Computer Interaction quoted from prescient 1960s essays by Vannevar Bush, J. C. R. Licklider, Douglas Engelbart, Ivan Sutherland, Ted Nelson, and others. I wondered, “How did I work for years in HCI without hearing about…

Observations on finishing a book

Posted: Tue, January 03, 2017 - 11:39:03

I’ve only posted twice to the Interactions blog in 8 months, but I’ve been writing, and frequently thought “this would be a good blog essay.” Minutes ago, I emailed in the last proof edit for a book. This post covers things I learned about writing and the English language after a brief, relevant description of the book.From Tool to Partner:…

Thailand: Augmented immersion

Posted: Thu, September 08, 2016 - 5:29:47

Our first day in Thailand, we visited the Museum of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Coins. Case after case of exquisite sets of finely crafted gold and silver objects from successive reigns: How had Thailand managed to hold on to these priceless objects for centuries?That night, Wikipedia provided an answer: Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country that avoided colonization and…

The joy of procrastination

Posted: Mon, July 11, 2016 - 11:37:43

I have long meant to write an essay on procrastination. Having just been sent a link to a TED talk on a virtue of procrastination, this seems a good time to move it to the front burner [1]. An alarming stream of research papers describe interventions to get chronic procrastinators like myself on the ball: wearable devices, displays mounted in…

Technology and liberty

Posted: Tue, May 03, 2016 - 10:22:39

The absence of plastic microbeads in the soap led to a shower spent reflecting on how technologies can constrain liberties, such as those of microbead producers and consumers who are yearning to be clean. Technologies that bring tremendous benefits also bring new challenges. Sometimes they create conditions conducive to oppression: oppression of the weak by the strong, the poor by…

Collateral damage

Posted: Tue, April 05, 2016 - 1:06:30

Researchers are rewarded for publishing, but this time, my heart wasn’t in it.It was 2006. IBM software let an employer specify an interval—two months, six months, a year—after which an email message would disappear. This was a relatively new concept. Digital storage had been too expensive to hang onto much, but prices had dropped and capacity increased. People no longer…

Technological determinism

Posted: Wed, March 09, 2016 - 1:21:43

Swords and arrows were doomed as weapons of war by the invention of a musket that anyone could load, point, and shoot. A well-trained archer was more accurate, but equipping a lot of farmers with muskets was more effective. Horse-mounted cavalry, feared for centuries, were also eliminated as a new technology swept across the globe, putting people out of work…

Wrong about MOOCs

Posted: Thu, January 28, 2016 - 4:04:01

This blog began in January 2013. There was a quid pro quo: You take the time to read my informal posts on a range of topics, I post observations only after convincing myself that they are viable. So far, only one has not held up, the first, January 2013’s “Wrong about MOOCs?” The third anniversary of the blog and the…

Job growth

Posted: Mon, January 11, 2016 - 11:03:16

Automation endangers blue and white collar work. This refrain is heard often, but could new job creation keep pace with job loss? Some leading technologists forecast that few of us will find work in fifteen years. They describe two possible paths to universal unemployment. 1. Robots or computers become increasingly capable. They have already replaced much human labor in farms,…

Crying wolf

Posted: Fri, December 11, 2015 - 3:58:59

In a stack of old papers headed for recycling was a Wall Street Journal article subtitled “Managers who fall for their office PCs could be the downside of the computer age.” In 1987, hands-on computer use was considered dangerous, for employees and employers alike! Since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), technology has often been viewed with dread. Woe unto us for…