At the beginning of September, I went to the HCI 2007 conference at Lancaster University (in the North of England).
I was Chairing the HCI Practice Day (the Thursday) of the conference so it was all a little bit hectic but still, as usual, a lot of fun.
This year, in line with the times I guess, there was a fair number of papers on Second Life and other virtual environments, including one about BDSM in Second Life. In fact, there was definitely a bit of a trend this year for erotic HCI… (that, as a statement, either makes HCI cool, or it just goes to show that academics can make *anything* boring 😉 ).
There also seemed to be a fair amount about emotions – that is, how we engage with technology; eg why we happily waste an entire evening on Facebook or watching random videos on YouTube. Web2.0 was also in there, of course.
There were also some papers on bluetooth, several (as usual) on eye-tracking, and stuff about Accessibility, usability of the Web, methods of evaluating interface usability, and so on.
IBMers featured quite heavily in the HCI Practice Day (as you might imagine):
- Mark Farmer (IBM Warwick) introduced the IBM Task Modeler tool that he develops (the link takes you to the Task Modeler page on Alphaworks where you can download a copy to try yourself).
- Colin Bird (Master Inventor and Information Architect at IBM Hursley) followed up Mark’s introduction with a presentation about how you can (and we do) use Task Modeler to support information architecture: to model user tasks and create the navigation for information centres.
- Ben Fletcher (Senior Inventor at IBM Hursley) did a great presentation on deafblind technologies, including the possibilities of virtual worlds in supporting deafblind (and deaf or blind) users.
- Me (Technical Author at IBM Hursley) – I was raconteur for Alan Dix‘s panel discussing the HCI issues in Web2.0 technologies.
The keynote speaker for HCI Practice Day was Jared Spool (the usability guru who isn’t Jakob Nielsen – and is much better and more credible, IMO) who moved heaven and high water (kind-of) to get here. He did a fantastic presentation that was very very funny and entertaining while being relevant and interesting too. He also attended as many of the other conference sessions as he could and participated by asking questions and making suggestions.
In fact, all the keynote speakers were great this year. Sometimes keynotes fly in, do their thang, then collect their expenses and go. All three (the others being Stephen Payne from Manchester Uni and Elizabeth Churchill from Yahoo!) all got involved in the conference, especially Elizabeth who was able to stay for the whole conference and seemed to be on every discussion panel going!
You can get the full proceedings of HCI 2007 (and, at some point, previous HCI conferences too) from the BCS eWIC site.
As a delegate, I also got the full proceedings as pdfs on a funky little USB drive, which I like.
It’s not long now until the call for papers will go out for HCI 2008 (to be held in Liverpool, City of Culture). If this blog is still active by then, I’ll post the call here. I encourage you to get involved in HCI – it’s more than user interface design or usability; it’s also about being innovative in how to design technologies for human beings.