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Sometimes I Wish That It Would Rain Here

Sunday, May 13, 2007

conceptual HCI

a couple weeks ago, I was in a workshop at CHI on HCI and New Media Arts focusing on methods and evaluation. the whole thing was very interesting and brought out some interesting tensions between what it means to evaluate HCI and what it means to evaluate art. one of the more interesting notions that came up drew on the notion of conceptual art to ask if something similar could exist in HCI. could you have conceptual HCI, or a conceptual UI, that wasn't just bad HCI?

the one example of which I thought was a click-free interface called don't click it (thanks Matt), that is, a GUI where one doesn't click at all. if there is such a thing as conceptual HCI, this probably comes pretty close. I don't know if it could ever work on a large scale, but the whole point of rethinking the modality of point-and-click interfaces to just a point interface is, I think, a potentially useful one. in a point-only interface, what other interesting methods of interaction might you have? does this possibly open up more space for gestural inputs? are there existing devices that don't offer an input analogous to clicking that could benefit from such a framing?

if something can get us thinking along lines like these, I suspect it qualifies as conceptual HCI.

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  • I've seen "don't click it" before... it's a neat experiment, but it doesn't work for compulsive/erratic mousers like myself. I accidentally voted "no" on their poll before realizing what I was doing.

    I think the ideas in Jef Raskin's book might fall under "conceptual HCI" and probably Aza Raskin's follow-up work (though I don't know too much about it).

    BTW, I saw your paper at CHI and liked it. (I have similar thoughts, as you might imagine from the name of my blog.)

    By Anonymous Kevin Arthur, at Monday, May 14, 2007 6:26:00 PM  

  • kevin,

    thanks, glad you enjoyed the talk.

    I'm not sure if the Raskins' work would fall under the umbrella of conceptual HCI, largely because the workshop participants put forth the notion more as a means of thought provocation and less as a useful categorization of existing work.

    I'm also glad to hear that others are questioning the technological panacea. it only made sense that others would have similar thoughts, and I wrote the paper not because I thought it was an incredibly original idea, but rather because it's an important idea about which our community needs to have a discussion. building these sorts of self-reflective measures into the design process is an integral part of engendering that discussion. it's also important when someone asks, "what are the implications for design based on your study?" that it be permissible to respond, "none, a technological intervention would be inappropriate or potentially even harmful."

    By Blogger Jystar, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 11:21:00 PM  

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