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Showing posts from June, 2015

Apps, products and misunderstandings of design

The design and development of apps has in many ways become easier over the years. Today there are tools and development kits that make it possible to fairly easy put an app together that actually works. The app can also easily be released on a market (if accepted by the 'platforms') . An app does not have to be manufactured, packaged and shipped.

At the same time, it seems as if many of today's most influential interactive products are actual products, that is, they are made of materials, have a shape and form and have to be manufactured. It is of course possible to see software design and product design as similar in the same way as we can see similarities between many design fields. But the similarity is usually on a more abstract level than seems to be usually understood.  Software design is, even though to some extent similar, it is radically different from product design.

In a great article about Silicon Valley industrial designers, Bill Webb (at Huge Design), is inte…

HCI research and the problems with the scientific method

A few years ago I read an article in the New Yorker about the phenomenon of 'declining truth'. I have been thinking about this article since then and today my PhD student found it and I had the chance to read it again (thanks Jordan). It is an article that asked critical questions about the scientific method in general and specifically about replicability. Reading this article today makes me reflect upon the present status of HCI research of course and its relation to the scientific method. Will come back to that.

The article is "The truth wears off -- is there something wrong with the scientific method?" by Jonah Lehrer. The article was published in 2010 so things may have changed a bit since then. The questions asked in the article are interesting and challenging to any science practitioner. The topic of the article is a phenomenon that has been described and discussed by several scientists over the last decades. It is by some called the "decline effect".…

Book note: "Thing Knowledge" by Davis Baird

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For some time now, my good friend and colleague Ron Wakkary has talked about the book "Thing knowledge - a philosophy of scientific instruments" written by philosopher Davis Baird. Ron has made the case that this is a book worth reading. I finally ordered the book a few days ago and have now read a couple of chapters.

Baird makes the argument that scientific instruments are knowledge in themselves. He draws on a large number of historical and contemporary examples and he makes a convincing case for his thesis. His exploration has led him to develop an 'instrument epistemology'.


What is interesting and as far as I can understand quite unique is that Baird pushes the argument of instruments as knowledge further than others who have made similar arguments. He is highly critical to the common 'text bias' that science or at least studies of science suffers from. Baird is very clear that his materialist account of epistemology does not mean a critique of traditiona…

Why isn't there more progress in HCI research?

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One of the questions that always comes back to me is if HCI as a field of research is actually making any progress. Is there any form of knowledge accumulation or growth? Is what we know as a field getting more stable? Are there things we today know with some certainty that were open questions some years ago? My personal answer to these questions is basically "no". I do not think there are any serious progress made. I think it is clear that the field has matured in the sense that there are more researchers and scholars who are able to perform well developed research. The field has also matured in the sense that there are some deeper understanding of what constitute the core of the field, even though I doubt that now and then. So, is it possible to figure out if the field is making progress or not?

In a new book "Philosophers of our times", edited by Ted Honderich, the well known philosopher David J. Chalmers has a chapter titled "Why isn't there more progr…