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Showing posts from October, 2012

A note on a lost and found book: C. West Churchman "The Design of Inquiring Systems"

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One of the books that has had the most influence on me is "The Design of Inquiring Systems:  Basic Concepts of Systems and Organizations" by C. West Churchman. The book was published in 1971. I probably got my copy in the early 80s. The reason why I read the book at that time was not primarily because I wanted to, but because my teacher at that time, Kristo Ivanov, who would later become my PhD adviser was a big fan of Churchman.

My copy of the book has long been missing. I do not even remember when I last saw it, but it is many years ago. I have over the years tried to get a new copy, but the book is out of print and used copies are very expensive. But, just a few days ago, I was re-arranging some books in my office and suddenly the book was there! It looks great! It looks like a book that is used a lot. It is full of notes and comments (see image).

Thinking back on the time when I read the book and also met Churchman and heard him talk about his ideas, I am quite sure that…

CHI reviewing: Some reflections

Reviewing for a quality conference such as CHI is an excellent way to find out what is going on in the field. What is even more beneficial is that I have to read things I would never otherwise read.  I promised to review 8 papers this year since I felt bad being on several submitted papers. (We should all pay our dues by reviewing at least as many papers as we submit.)

Anyway, I have now reviewed all of them (well, working on the last one). One interesting aspect that I saw in many of the papers is a mismatch between the way theory is said to be used and how it is actually used.

The typical mistake looks like this. The authors start with an introduction, usually quite good. Then comes the "theory" part, also in many cases surprisingly good. Several papers have impressed me by taking on quite ambitious theoretical perspectives in relation to their research. In some cases I read excellent reviews of existing theory with quite interesting reflections on how it relates to the to…

Book Note: "Observing the user experience" by Goodman, Kuniavsky, and Moed

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There are many books that in one way or another describe how to do interaction design (broadly defined). In most cases I do not find these book very interesting for one simple reason. The reason is that they are neither inspiring when it comes to theory, or practical when it comes to guidance. Books like these, mainly labeled as textbooks, are what I see as "in-between" books, that is, they present ideas and theory in a way that is far from grounded and foundational, and they present guidance that is not based on real insights and knowledge about practice.

I just got a copy of the second edition of "Observing the user experience--a practitioner's guide to user research" by Elizabeth Goodman, Mike Kuniavsky and Andrea Moed (Morgan Kaufmann, 2012). To me, this is a book that is not in-between. It is "a practitioner's guide" written in a language and at a level that is very useful. Each aspect of user research is presented in a simple and clear way …