One of the frustrating things about academic research is that, often times, it’s really only accessible to other academics. It is inaccesible to those from outside academia both because of the format it takes, as well as where it lives – which is usually behind a paywall. One of the most frustrating things about articles published in industry contexts is that generally speaking they make no reference to past work, or others who are doing similar work in the field, with each contribution sitting on its own. This leads to a pattern of re-invention and a tendency towards industry leaders claiming unique exerpertise rather than building up and sharing a collective body of knowledge. There are very valid reasons for why both of these situations exist and it is certainly no criticism of the individuals involved, but its not necessarily ideal (for more on the potentially rich but currently fraught relationship between the two domains of industry and academia see the references at the bottom of this post, of course you need access to an academic library to view most them). That is in part why the project by Interaction-Design.org to develop an Encyclopedia of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is so impressive to me.
While I have to admit I am still making my way through each of the chapters, as far as I can tell to date they have spent who knows how many hours with who knows how many fantastic volunteers putting together one of the most coherent, extensive and succinct resources on HCI (or Interaction Design) ever available. One of the things I appreciate most about it is that the range of chapters demonstrates the depth of the field and its many different aspects.
But most important is that each chapter is well written, uses accessible language and both text and video to convey key concepts, and is extensively referenced, by someone with serious academic and/or industry credentials. The creators have then ensured a well rounded representation and diverse perspectives on each topic by inviting other experts from both industry and academia as well as greater IXD community to comment and feedback on the chapters. This had led to some lively debate in the comments, and the capturing of further significant references.
Every time I visit the site I am impressed at what they have created. This resource goes a long way to representing the breadth of knowledge and research that exists on IXD & HCI, and connects popular topics with their academic roots, some which extend back more than 40 years. Most importantly it is of high quality and in an accessible format that is available, open and free to anyone with an internet connection. An inspirational example of knowledge sharing. Massive thanks and kudos to the team and all those involved.
Anderson, R., & Kolko, J. (2009). ‘On the relevance of theory to practitioners…’. interactions, 16(2), pp. 80-80.
Davis, M. (2008). ‘Why Do We Need Doctoral Study in Design?’. International Journal of Design, 2(3), pp. 71-79.
Hobbs, J., Fenn, T., & Resmini, A. (2010). ‘Maturing a Practice ‘. Journal of Information Architecture, 2(1), pp. 37-54.
Sevaldson, B. (2010). ‘Discussions & Movements in Design Research’. FORMakademisk, 3(1), pp. 8-35.
Yee, J. S. R. (2007). ‘Connecting Practice to Research (and back to Practice): Making the leap from design practice to design research ‘. Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, 1(1), pp. 81-90.