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Usability and interaction design - new challenges for the Scandinavian tradition

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Computer use and interaction possibilities are changing quickly, while use contexts and application types are radically broadening. Technology no longer consists of static tools belonging only to the workplace but permeates work on the move, homes and everyday lives. Pervasive technologies, augmented reality, small interfaces, tangible interfaces, etc. are dramatically changing the nature of HCI (human-computer interaction). We witness the creation of ad hoc configurations of large and small user interfaces. The new interfaces are moveable and used in changing locations and contexts; different tasks are done through a combination of specialized technologies. A wider repertoire of physical instruments is available than the keyboard and the mouse. Based on examples from recent research projects and a collage of concepts and solutions, we discuss how these recent developments challenge our understanding of usability and interaction design. In particular, we discuss how the Scandinavian tradition of user involvement in development is facing up with the challenges of new work and of non-work contexts. There is a tendency that much recent investigations into non-work settings get stuck in a divide between work on the one hand, and leisure, arts, and home on the other; between rationality on the hand, and emotion on the other. The Scandinavian tradition can be developed to embrace people's whole lives and transcend the dichotomies between work, rationality, etc. and their negations and a Scandinavian perspective should and could move the current co-determination framework outside of work.

Keywords: Scandinavian tradition of development; cooperative design; human-computer interaction; new interfaces; usability; user involvement; whole life use

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Computer Science, University of Aarhus, Denmark 2: HCI Department, School of Computer Science and Communication, KTH, Stockholm

Publication date: 2008-07-01

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