There was talk of ubiquitous computing. With WiFi, 3G, iPhone, etc, ubiquitous computing is really blooming. What comes next?
When did you feel 'good' using a product/service?
Was it when you encountered a nice technological application? (Perhaps, but it surely is not a general phenomenon.) Was it when you found a nice content or function? (Maybe, but it doesn't explain all the other moment of enjoying content-less interaction.) Or, was it when you did some intended task without any difficulty? (C'mon. You know the reality: good interface is not noticeable.)
So where is HCI going. I personally have two possible scenarios.
(1) Going for Technology Born to differentiate "UI for computing device" from "UI for dumb traditional hardware", HCI somehow settled on the technological side. HCI could keep specializing itself as such and end up as HTI, or Human-Technology Interaction, as once claimed in Finnish HTT. As another effort to make HCI more focused on computing technology rather than studying people, a concept of HCC was emerged as an alternative concept for HCI.
(2) Going for Experience The second scenario in my mind may be a bit personal. Since the field of "UI" has been focused on 'usability' by definition, its approaches to UX are naturally bound to the assumption that efficient use is good use. It's user-centered, engineering, and serious job for the dedicated people.
However, HCI has more exploratory tradition. Always wondering for the next interesting stuff to do, and saying "Wow this's cool. What can we do with it?" It is NOT user-centered, more inventive than need-based, and there was always dirty little secret among us: it's more about fun and cool experiments rather than making easy-to-use piece of technology.
This untold truth of pursuing cool-ness was actually discussed in CHI several years ago, and there was clearly two sides of opinions. Traditional UI practitioner didn't like it, and framed it as not being enough for academia. Some 'other' people didn't explain it very well but still thought it's the momentum of CHI community, what gathers people in one place, and something they have to support. (After a couple of years, the result from this discussion turned out as a new CHI section called 'Media Showcase' where you don't need to try to be academically perfect.)
If HCI could be brave enough and coming out with its secret desire for the fun side of experience, it could make the next face of HCI. Although it's different from what's been discussed in every joint-conference with UI people, and although it's far different from what its name originally meant, I believe the tradition has been always there waiting to be revealed and embraced.
... I must have come too far away from HCI technologies now. Working in game industry as UX designer and thinking about the product which is solely for an enjoyable experience, I can't help myself thinking about a concept of 'fun experience' as the future of HCI.
There was many discussions about this direction, some even called it as "New HCI" on <Interaction> magazine. Since I have found unexpectedly many cases of different yet complementary approaches to 'generate' fun in an experience product, I believe there will be more tangible and even academic way to facilitate it in the future of HCI... or whatever it's called.
... 옮기면서 보니 이건 뭐 발제 내용하고 상관없는 글일세. ㅡ_ㅡ;;;
어쨋든 여기까지. 앞의 글과 이 글의 공통점이 있다면, 둘 다 내가 글을 올린 후 몇 주가 지나도록 아무 댓글이 없다는 거다. -_- 회사 내에서도 이메일로 토론을 하다보면 내가 끼어듬과 동시에 thread가 끊기는 경우가 많았는데, 역시 너무 고급 영어를 써서 현지인들조차 이해하지 못하는 걸까... 덕택에 thread-breaker라고 취급당하는 듯. -_-a;;; 그러면서도 UI 관련 이슈가 있을 때마다 꾸역꾸역 찾아 물어오는 걸 보면, 나는 참 예의바른 사람들과 일하고 있다는 생각이 든다.
내가 지난 몇달 동안 이 블로그에 글을 올렸더라면, 아마도 신기한 HCI 기술 같은 것보다는 이런 내용을 올리게 되지 않을까... 해서, 그냥 다른 데 올렸던 글이라고 퍼올려서 최소한 블로그 주인장이 살아있다는 증거라도 남기기로 했다.
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. ;->