Table of Contents

VOLUME XVII.5 September + October 2010

  • Welcome
    • Interactions

      Richard Anderson, Jon Kolko

      Frequently, designers find themselves reflecting on the nuances of what makes us human—matters of cognitive psychology, social interaction, and the desire for emotional resonance. This issue of interactions unpacks all of these ideas, exploring the gestalt of interaction design's influence. Sarah Kettley, a researcher and an artist, is most…

  • Authenticity in new media
    • The meaning of affinity and the importance of identity in the designed world

      Matthew Jordan

      When a designer is thinking about ways to create experiences that deliver meaningful and lasting connections to users, it is helpful to consider the notion of our personal affinities and how they affect perception, adoption, and use in the designed world [1]. The term "affinity," when illuminated by definitions…

    • Fluidity in craft and authenticity

      Sarah Kettley

      Increasingly, tangible interaction design is orienting itself toward craft as something distinct from design. There are efforts to translate, or reproduce, the materiality of spaces in other media; calls for a coherent approach to experience and evaluation; and NSF funding aimed at making the concepts and needs of HCI…

    • The design of serendipity is not by chance

      Liz Danzico

      Technology can aid efficiency—it can prevent us from getting lost, make locating the nearest restaurant easy, help us avoid inconvenient traffic, and eliminate the wait time between physicians and patients. Yet aided by apps and served by services, we leave little up to chance. We seek out the specific.…

    • Why “the conversation” isn’t necessarily a conversation

      Ben McAllister

      Most weekday mornings are fairly predictable: I make a pot of coffee; I walk the dogs with my wife, Eliza; I have a second cup of coffee while Eliza gets ready. This probably sounds familiar, as we all have our routines. But this is not where the predictability in…

    • The (anti) social net

      Elizabeth Churchill

      It is time we stopped talking about social networks and started talking about people, groups, and relationships. This is probably the fourth time this week I have said this: Social is more than the social network. It is perhaps the 500th time I have said it in the past…

  • The complexity of "advancement"
    • Hope for the best and prepare for the worst

      Eli Blevis, Shunying Blevis

      Typical interaction designers are not climate scientists, but interaction designers can make well-informed use of climate sciences and closely related sciences. Interaction design can make scientific information, interpretations, and perspectives available in an accessible and widely distributed form so that people's consciousness is raised. Such consciousness raising is our…

    • Reciprocity, deep storage, and letting go

      William Odom, Richard Banks, Dave Kirk

      We are seeing a vast proliferation of self-generated content on the Internet. From ever-expanding online photo archives to mundane records of everyday life through tweets, blog posts, and status updates, new forms of digital content that people find deeply meaningful and may want to pass down one day are…

    • My uncle used to watch television

      Andrew Smith

      In writing the latest installment of Lifelong Interactions, I knew I wanted to consider how we as human beings have come full circle from being very physical, to living an abstract life, and eventually to having a need for physicality in our golden years. It just so happened that…

  • Design and usability
    • Six speaking chairs (not directly) for people who cannot speak

      Graham Pullin, Andrew Cook

      There are some commonly held assumptions about the future of speech technology, and our interactions with it, that we wish to challenge. Our goal with "Six Speaking Chairs" is to explore alternative perspectives rather than to converge on solutions at this first stage. We would therefore describe this activity…

    • Looking at accessibility as a design problem

      Dana Chisnell

      Nearly everyone on the planet will be at least temporarily, minimally disabled at some point in their lives. It may be a broken bone or a major illness. And if you live long enough, you will experience age-related impairments such as limitations of sight, hearing, dexterity, and mobility. Those…

    • Gestural interfaces

      Donald Norman, Jakob Nielsen

      One step forward, two steps back. Once again, the usability crisis is upon us. We suspect most of you thought it was over. After all, HCI certainly understands how to make things usable, so the emphasis has shifted to more engaging topics, such as new applications, new technological developments,…

  • The politics of development
    • Not your average farmer

      Neil Patel

      Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) research has a history of making mistakes that, in hindsight, seem obvious. For example, many working in the field have a favorite story of a project gone wrong because of techno-centrism. Mine is the LINCOS telecenter project, intended to provide computing and…

    • Project SAGE, a half-century on

      John King

      In 1959 a Project SAGE Sector Direction Center went live in Syracuse, NY. It was the first of more than two dozen such centers built in the U.S. and Canada. They were part of NORAD, the North American Air Defense Command, headquartered in the bowels of Cheyenne Mountain in…

    • Interacting with policy in a political world

      Lisa Nathan, Batya Friedman

      "What does policy have to do with me?" That was the essence of the question Jonathan Lazar put on the table in his inaugural article for interactions. We agree with him that the answer is "a lot." Our recent efforts to work with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal…

  • Interactions Cafe
    • On academic knowledge production

      Jon Kolko

      It's no longer astute to point out how design has the potential to shape society and contribute to solving some of the catastrophic issues facing our world. Yet the conversation of addressing these problems is often divided into two groups. One, with a competency in building products, uses language…

  • What is design?
    • All look same?

      Jodi Forlizzi

      I've come to a disarming realization: Everything old is new again. Lady Gaga is the new Madonna, the Tea Party movement mimics the protests of the 1970s—except the left is now the right—and the interest in how to design for service seems much like the interest in how to…

    • Building a user observatory

      Valérie Bauwens

      It has been nine years since I last heard a statement like this: "Users' opinions don't matter. They don't know what they want, anyway. Let's just throw the technology on the market and check the reaction." The tone at Swisscom now is radically different, and our User Observatory method…

    • Relying on failures in design research

      Nicolas Nova

      Sitting next to the automatic door between train coaches in Switzerland provides a fantastic opportunity to observe the range of behaviors when people interact with a very basic instance of ubiquitous computing. Interestingly, most Swiss trains have sensors located in the upper part of the doorway. Experienced travelers know…

    • Solving complex problems through design

      Steve Baty

      What is it about design that makes it so well suited to solving complex problems? Why is design thinking such a promising avenue for business and government tackling seemingly intractable problems? Design is a broad arena of activity with a rich history, developed theory, and passionate practitioners. It encompasses…

    • The space of design

      Hugh Dubberly

      Models of the process of design are relatively common. I have found approximately 150 such models, many of which are presented in "How Do You Design?" ( Each describes a sequence of steps required to design something—or at least the steps that designers recommend. Models of the design process…