Lost in interpretation!

At its simplest, we could easily assume that Human-Computer Interaction is the research related to the good “communication” between Humans and Computers. Of course, this assumption is quite general except if we could give an absolute definition to what is human and what is a computer.

In this article I am trying to find out which words I should use, when someone asks me what is HCI, in the time that we are speaking about three words and I am able to give a clear definition only for the word “Interaction”, a situation which with simple maths means 1/3 possibility of success.

So after further reading I came up with some ideas of how to describe this scientific (ops!) topic. What I understood for sure, is that the biggest difficulty is to find the words should be used, than describe the nature of the action itself. As appears in the paper “Human Computer Interaction as Science” [1], which presents what the word ‘science’ could mean for HCI activities, seems like this term could be the hot potato of an academic discussion related to HCI.

On the other hand, another paper is coming in relation to ‘The Big Hole in HCI Research’ [2], and as soon as there is no problem in the use of the term “Research”, finally a real hot potato is coming into the light, the lack of motor themes in HCI research. Simply speaking, are we even able to speak about general patterns in HCI research? In case the reply is no, do we agree with this fact and in which extend?

As far as we are discussing about a research topic, which was originally created in order to resolve the problems of interaction between humans and machines, quite early in the computer history [1], understanding why there is still lack of motor themes seems difficult. And possibly it is, because how easy is a so great improvement in HCI research, in the time that a part of the “Research” community is trying to prove that is part of the “Scientific” community? When scientists that are involved in research of the good communication between machines and humans are not focusing all this great amount of energy to follow the sharp evolution of computers nowadays, while examining the humans as they really are, with the experiences that they are already carrying [3], instead of trying to exemplify the human nature in a computational logic?

Well, I don’t really know if this type of research is characterised by enough rigour, in order to be categorised as Science, Scientific discipline or supplementary Science, but I am sure that a fall of an apple experience, was enough to change the human history, because something seemingly simple was examined by a different perspective.

I would guess that magic progress could happen, if we can keep helping people engage technology to make everyday life easier without caring about the language we are using [1]. Whilst allowing the linguistic community to help us with our intra-communal interaction!

[1] Stuart Reeves. 2015. Human-computer interaction as science. In Proceedings of The Fifth Decennial Aarhus Conference on Critical Alternatives (CA ’15). Aarhus University Press 73-84. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7146/aahcc.v1i1.21296

[2] Vassilis Kostakos. 2015. The big hole in HCI research. interactions 22, 2 (February 2015), 48-51. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/2729103

[3] Jodi Forlizzi and Katja Battarbee. 2004. Understanding experience in interactive systems. In Proceedings of the 5th conference on Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques (DIS ’04). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 261-268. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/1013115.1013152

Author: Tzanidou Alexandra

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