Do we need to understand the history of Interaction Design?
6 Jun 2011 - 2:16pm
4 years ago
David B. Rondeau
I recently attended the CHI2011 conference and one thing stood out for me. It was Bill Buxton's talk on "Creativity and History" and the Buxton Collection. For anyone who doesn't know, the Buxton Collection is Bill Buxton's personal collection of digital technology, collected over the past 30 years, which was on display at the conference.
Buxton's talk was about the need to understand the history of digital technology, which of course got me to thinking about the history of interaction design. In his talk, he argued that just by introducing digital technology, we are in fact designing culture—whether we mean to or not. He looked at other fields of cultural importance, like art, music, dance, or architecture, and found that in each, learning and understanding the history is a core part of the field. This however, is not the case with digital technology, which is why he’s made the Buxton Collection available to everyone.
I think the same is true for Interaction Design. Most interaction designers don't know the history of the field, I'm not sure much of it is taught in design schools (please correct me if I'm wrong), and we certainly don't talk about it. I'm fortunate to have been designing for over 20 years, but I still include myself in this criticism. I don't feel like I understand our history as well as I should.
I've tried to articulate my reasoning in a blog post: http://incontextdesign.com/blog/chi2011-understanding-our-interaction-design-history/
Personally, I think this an interesting topic that is obviously relevant to IxDA, but most importantly—I'd really like to hear what others think.
Do you think it's important to understand our history? Or do you think it's just a waste of time?
How much history do you know? Has knowledge of the past helped you as a designer?
Should we do more to capture and record our history? If so, what? Do you know of any good resources on the subject? Did you learn any history in design school?
What should the IxDA's role be in promoting history?