A Humanistic Approach to Human Computer Interaction (HCI)by greenspacewriter 06/17/2012
Golan Levin has the right idea. Eliminate the use of canned materials. Be Personal, not impersonal. It’s good to be democratized, but not homogenized. As stated by Golan, “How and to what extent are the acts performed by the user, through interaction with the system, socially significant?” GreenspaceNYC appreciates a call to action that addresses HCI beyond visual beauty and generalized usability. We think users can expect richer experiences from HCI derived from research that includes philosophy, history, and all kinds of literary and design theory. Artists, designers, developers, and educators have plenty of moments where they do their share of “pixel pushing” and other times where they can push the limits of a project. It’s important to think about information systems and architecture, long-term use cases, and new and innovative scenarios that encourage sustainable use.
In the history of HCI there has been plenty of skepticism and mishandling. Read Vannevar Bush’s As We May Think. In 1945, Bush questions the future use of scientific applications and calls for wisdom and perseverance. Bush admonishes the use of cruel weapons in military initiatives, yet he had been involved with these programs during WWII. Given these worst case scenarios it appears that there is a need for the social sciences and philosophical disciplines to cross paths with human computer interactions. Can we prevent these kinds of studies from ending up collecting dust on a a shelf or an e-book shelf somewhere? Today, the dissemination of information has radically changed and with the advent of social media we hope that this is less likely to happen. Despite the historical misuse of technology, we’ve also seen that these big dreams, human centered visions and inventions have become realities.
GreenspaceNYC supports civically-minded HCI. We think it takes a thick skin and a big imagination to push the limits and we think people like Golan Levin are spot on. Embrace new technologies, innovate design school curriculum. Take for example John Maeda and MIT’s Media Lab.Their unorthodox approach has proven to push the limits. They have mentored awesome leaders and posed some important questions about the intersections between design, technology, philosophy and the social sciences.