We’re trying to make “HCI”–human-computer interaction–as familiar an acronym as FBI because it plays such an important role in our world. As our advisor Paul Duguid, coauthor of the brilliant The Social Life of Information, put it, “The limitless adjustability of phones, televisions, watches, mp3 and cd players–let alone computers–tells us that, like it or not, we are all digital designers now, making ill- or well-informed forays into the world of HCI. Even if we don’t like it and try to avoid messing with the “factory settings” of these increasingly malleable objects, we cannot avoid engaging with the products of HCI-based design as we wrestle with those tiny, touch-sensitive screens we find everywhere from cars, washing machines, and hotel rooms to library check-out systems, parking meters, and beyond. The Berkshire Encyclopedia of HCI–though it will be an invaluable resource for students and professionals in and around the field–does not come to the rest of us as a message from an esoteric world. No less than the Encyclopedia of Community, it is a reference book about the world in which we all live and work–and we will live and work better for having it at our elbow.”
I’m not an IT person myself, a mere dabbler and a sort of science groupie, so I browse here and there, trying to get a feel for what’s going on online and in the IT communities. Because publishing today totally depends on human-computer interaction, and because new and converging technologies have potential for harm as well as good, I’ll use these notes to point out some things that are worth a look. This one’s just fun: Endangered Gizmos.