Tuesday, 21 July 2015

British HCI 2015

This time last week, I was swanning around Lincoln (not Licoln, Nebraska, as one friend suggested, but Lincoln, Lincolnshire) at the British HCI conference. There were plenty of heated discussions around the REF, centering on Alan Dix's impressive analysis of the results and their likely impact on HCI as a discipline. Executive summary: oh, crap.

This set the stage for heated discussions of what HCI researchers in the UK should do, strategically and tactically, to further our work. I argued strongly for taking advantage of the unusual, boundary-pushing work that so many of us are at the very forefront of. We should be celebrating what we're good at and using every available forum to promote what we do in the international community. Of course, we're no more homogeneous than the field as a whole, but we do have a disproportionate number of people doing intensely exciting, high-quality research that continually redefines the edge of HCI in terms of affect, emotion, felt experience, performativity, and all the stuff that makes humans so very different from the computational devices with which we interact. (Though maybe not for much longer...)

On Friday morning I gave a provocation paper on Performance and Critical Design, arguing that the kind of performance studies I've been working with for years can go a long way towards the kinds of practical advances advocated by Bardzell & Bardzell (2013). I only realised as I was putting together my presentation in the couple of weeks beforehand that I was going to have to spend a lot of my 15 minutes defining what the Bardzells mean by critical design to position performance alongside it, and if I wasn't careful, I was going to end up giving this talk as though I were representing them and their work. Their stuff is lovely, don't get me wrong, but it's not the focus of my research and I'd hate to mis-speak. I think I pulled it off without mangling any of their opinions, and I got lots of great feedback after the event. So it seems that Performantive Experience Design might have legs even outside the strict remit of the framework and methodology put forward so far.