너무 오랫동안 글을 안 썼다. 출시 직전이라고는 하지만 이미 UI/UX 관련된 이슈들은 할 수 있는 일과 그렇지 않은 일이 구분된 상황이라 그다지 바쁘지도 않았고, 흥미있는 신제품/신기술도 심심찮게 등장하고 있는데 왠지 영 의욕이 생기지 않는 바람에 몇달이나 블로그를 방치해 두고 있는 중이다. 이 블로그를 RSS로 구독하시는 분도 최소한 열 분은 있는 것 같은데 왠지 죄송한 마음에, 그냥 다른 데 올린 글을 두 개 퍼 올리기로 했다.

퍼온 글은 둘 다 LinkedIn.com 이라는 커뮤니티 포털 사이트에 있는 "한국 HCI 학회" 모임의 토론게시판에 올린 내용이다. 질문도 thread도 영어길래 영어로 올렸는데, 따로 번역을 할까 하다가 그마저 귀찮아서 그냥 원문 그대로 올리기로. 그냥 개인적으로 보관할 용도이고, 위 모임을 홍보하려는 의도가 다분하다고 이해해 주시기를. (이건 뭘 이해를 하라는 건지... -_- )

아래 네모 안의 글은 토론의 발제문이고, 그 아래의 글이 내가 올린 글이다.

토론주제(1): How did we get here?

Current state of Human Computer Interaction is great. Computers do not look like computers of old days, and we interact directly by pointing, or talking to, we we can do that anywhere with laptops, GPS navigators, mobile phones, and so on.

I would like to go back to the past and remember how things were in the old days, and how we got here. Also, there were past attempts that may make sense now or in the near future.

So, how did we get here?


Would it be okay to shoot a BIG answer for a BIG question? ;-)

A summary of history may be handy to invite more people, so this is me trying:
(It will be only fair to say that the following stories did NOT happened chronologically in order, but maybe causally.)

(1) Man as a Machine Counterpart
The word 'interface' or 'interaction' originally meant simple concept of communicative medium/action between different systems. The tendency to consider human workers as part of manufacturing system as a whole, isolated a concept of 'Man-Machine Interface (MMI)'.
So it was more about defining the specific area of interest, rather than thinking about its characteristics and improvement.

(2) Thinking about the Efficiency
This concept was more developed and polished to represent a field to make what's happening through the 'interface' more efficient and productive. Industrial engineering contributed a lot with expertise from 'human factors (US)' or 'Ergonomics (Europe)'.
The names explain itself that they are focusing on the _human factor_ in the system compared to non-human factor, and intereted in the _economics_ of it.

(3) Get the Job Done
With emergent of everyday goods with electricity and switches in them, the system could be designed free from physical power linkage. This tendency became even more so with circuits, micro-processors, and even digital display devices (from light bulb and seven-segments, to LED lights and FPDs). These new kinds of system was so-called 'black box' and harder to understand with hidden logic and features behind the surface; which exploited the needs of paying attention to the design of the surface, now separated from its mechanics behind it.
Now spot-lighted as an individual field, the concept became a new field of practice, named as 'User Interface (UI)' or 'UI design' which is more about people.

(4) Machine to Computer
Things became more and more complex and black-boxed with programmable micro-chips and digital matrix displays commercialized, and a new kind of special machine created only to compute became more and more accessible for non-military use. This new machine, or 'computer' didn't have many mechanics except logics it's playing with, so designing its 'interface' was free from any kind physical principle or conventions. Emphasizing this fundamental difference, a word 'Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)' was coined compared to 'MMI'. However the difference between the field of UI and HCI has never been clearly accepted, probably because the targets of UI design had been developed as computerized goods very fast and there was not much to divide them.
The newest element to be designed in the computer was of course the display, where the keyboards have already been familiarized itself with typewritter, digitizers was only hooked up with very limited one or two inputs, and all the other horrible boxes filling the room was for system administrators rather than users. So designing what should be happening on the display got more and more interest, referred as 'Graphical User Interface (GUI)'. Naturally, the traditional field of UI dealing with hardwares were often called 'Solid User Interface (SUI)' or 'Physical User Interface (PUI)'.

(5) Many Many Computers
Long story short, Personal Computers (PCs) became quite common everywhere and used for a variety of different purposes. Accordingly many different points of view were rapidly emerged. To list a few, 'Social User Interface (SUI, again)' was focused on anthropomorphizing computer with figure and conversation with 'Agent-Based User Interface (AUI)', Social User Inteface was sometimes interpreted as being more about society like in 'Computer-Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW)', 'Sound User Interface (SUI, again again)' was focused on auditory feedback and beyond with 'Auditory User Interface (AUI)' and 'Voice User Interface (VUI)' or 'Speech User Interface (SUI)', 'Tangible User Interface (TUI)' emphasized on alternative physical means to deliver the command, and the list goes on and on almost forever. With all those newly-introduced concept, some grouped some of them as 'Natural User Interface (NUI)', 'Intelligent User Interface (IUI)', or some as 'Reality-Based Interaction (RBI)'. Traditional interfaces were sometimes referred as 'Command-line Interface' compared to new fancy 'Non-command-line interfaces'. New platforms also got some interest to be called as 'Web User Interface', 'Mobile User Interface', '3D User Interface', or even 'Brain-Computer Interface (BCI)'. Frankly, there's no point to argue about all these angles of HCI, because they are NOT exclusive at all except some constraints to say the least. But thanks to all this energy gathered, proper theories, general principles and guidelines, and even several handy methodologies were collected as 'Usability Engineering' or UI design in its boarder sense.

(6) No More about the Machine
Most notable development in the field of ... usability concerns ... was probably 'Information Architecture (IA)'. IA focuses on the fact that usability starts from how its contents are organized and represented. Even though it's more related to the successors of Graphical User Inteface for now, the fundamentals of IA is focusing to the contents in the first place before doing tricks to nicely display them.

(7) Not Even about the Interaction
Another notable experiment these days would be 'User Experience (UX)'. Although there has been no clear-cut differentiation between UX and what we have called UI, UX became a fashion among those who are interested in usabilities, and sometimes even substitutes the place of UI without expanding the concept to any extent. Saying it as UX may sound fancy, but all those philosophies and visions had been there in the history of User Interface. There is slight possibility to identify UX apart from UI or usability, but that'd be a whole other story.

(8) Time to Leave the Nest?
Something's happening in the field of UI, such as:
- Visual designers are tired of all those logical talks, and start talking 'back to basic' of their visual traditions or now often callled 'interaction design'.
- Many HCI groups are now focusing on its own technological interest, rather than any common topics for HCI as an academic field.
- Computer scientists don't like to be driven by the people who may or may not use the system, and try to focus more on computation issues like in 'Human-Centered Computing (HCC)'.
- The 'UX' talks either go more and more vague and philosophical, or underestimate traditional UI design as mere development compared to UX as design, evaluation, and analysis.
- It's now safe to say, "Everybody knows how to design a system with fair usability."
This field has been a safe house for many decades, but it may be time to leave the nest and build their own.

... I hope I didn't miss something important above. If you find anything seriously wrong, please understand that it was written in less than an hour, and comment it in the thread for the discussion. ;->


 

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