Beki Grinter

HCIC: Domains of Influence?

In DRAFT on July 7, 2011 at 4:35 am

I recently attended the Human Computer Interaction Consortium (HCIC) meeting at Asilomar, California. The last two years have been devoted to discussing the many different “ways of knowing” within HCI. I interpreted that, hopefully correctly, as understanding the methodological diversity that comprises HCI.

During the workshop I learnt about the importance of disciplinary location. It matters to people that HCI exist within a broader discipline, and that can be Computer Science, Information, and likely others. It’s taken me a while to process this, but it now strikes me that perhaps HCIC should consider a ways of knowing workshop that is about how disciplinary location shapes problem formulation and solution.

I offer myself as a modest example. When I was an HCI researcher in Software Engineering, I was very influenced by the domain of Software Engineering in problem formulation. Reflecting on this and the problems I have worked on, I would say that I have been more influenced by my disciplinary location and who was nearby than methods. Indeed, the methods I have used to solve problems has probably changed less.

I am now in a School of Interactive Computing, and in a College of Computing. That continues to influence what interests me, where I see opportunities. I wonder what it would be to have people come talk about their inspirations based on their disciplinary location.

  1. When I taught HCI (ha ha ha), I set an essay question: “HCI should be taught in a School of Psychology, not a School of Computing”.
    Most students HATED this, but the Cognitive Scientists thought Christmas had come early.

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