why study HCI?

why study Human–Computer Interaction

This video looks at a variety of examples to explore the different reasons why human-computer interaction is an important and exciting area to study.


Activity: who is to blame

When I messed up drawing the line in the video, whose fault is it?  Is it the Google designers' fault, for making a poor design, or my fault for not being careful enough?

Imagine that instead of simply meaning I drew a line in the wrong place it had been far more serious,perhaps someone got killed because of the mistake.  There is a court case and imagine you are being the lawyers.

  1. First think of the arguments my lawyter might make for why it is the web site's fault.
  2. Then take Google's part and think of all the arguments they might bring for the web site being well deisgned and it being 'human error' on my part.
  3. Finally, taking into account (1) and (2) suggest any ways you think the page could have been designed better, or maybe I could use it better, so that mistakes like this do not happen again.


Resources and references for the video

Key term: mode
A mode in HCI is a context where user actions (keypresses, mouse clicks etc.) are treated in a specific way. That is, the same action may have  a different meaning depending on the mode. ... read more
Dynamics of Website Trust (HCI book online!)
Trust is a fickle thing, hard to build up, but so easy to lose. It is crucial for all websites, but particularly those that involve money or personal data and reputation including social networks. This case study concerns the first stages of use of an academic social network site. We look through the factors that build and lose trust. Social networking web sites depend on viral growth, if potential users are lost in the early stages, then the growth of the community is threatened.

bad usability can kill

Here are some links connected with medical instruments and infusion pumps in particular. However, this is an issue whenever people have to use technology in safety critical situations.

After 710 deaths, drug pumps under greater scrutiny Ivan Oransky, Reuters
After more than 50,000 reports of problems with pumps used to deliver drugs, including 710 deaths, the Food and Drug Administration will begin more rigorous pre-market review of the devices
Infusion pump Wikipedia
A general background on infusion pumps showing a variety of pumps.
CHI MED - making medical devices safer
CHI+MED (Computer-Human Interaction for Medical Devices) is multi-University project to improve the safety of interactive (programmable) medical devices, such as infusion pumps. By understanding more about device design and human factors, medical errors can be reduced thus saving lives.
Design and Disaster Onboard Air France Flight 447 Shimona Carvalho
Nice summary of HCI issues in the loss of the Air France 447 a few years ago

positive issues

Not all doom and gloom, good usability can enhance the experience of using both generic products (like the Windows touch keypad described here), and also specific apps, websites, and services.

Designing the Windows 8 touch keyboard - Building Windows 8 Kip Knox, MSDN Blogs
The MSDN blog post I talk about in the video
Design process - Windows 8 keeping Apple on its toes Alan Dix,
My discussion of the MSDN post bringing out issues including features that are invisible to the user, yet crucial for usability.