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Conceptions of the discipline of HCI: craft, applied science, and engineering

Long, J.; Dowell, J.; (1989) Conceptions of the discipline of HCI: craft, applied science, and engineering. In: Sutcliffe, A. and Macaulay, L., (eds.) People and Computers V: Proceedings of the Fifth Conference of the British Computer Society. (pp. pp. 9-32). Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK. Green open access

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The theme of HCI '89 is 'the theory and practice of HCI'. In providing a general introduction to the Conference, this paper develops the theme within a characterisation of alternative conceptions of the discipline of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). First, consideration of disciplines in general suggests their complete definition can be summarised as: 'knowledge, practices and a general problem having a particular scope, where knowledge supports practices seeking solutions to the general problem'. Second, the scope of the general problem of HCI is defined by reference to humans, computers, and the work they perform. Third, by intersecting these two definitions, a framework is proposed within which different conceptions of the HCI discipline may be established, ordered, and related. The framework expresses the essential characteristics of the HCI discipline, and can be summarised as: 'the use of HCI knowledge to support practices seeking solutions to the general problem of HCI'. Fourth, three alternative conceptions of the discipline of HCI are identified. They are HCI as a craft discipline, as an applied scientific discipline, and as an engineering discipline. Each conception is considered in terms of its view of the general problem, the practices seeking solutions to the problem, and the knowledge supporting those practices; examples are provided. Finally, the alternative conceptions are reviewed, and the effectiveness of the discipline which each offers is comparatively assessed. The relationships between the conceptions in establishing a more effective discipline are indicated.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Conceptions of the discipline of HCI: craft, applied science, and engineering
ISBN-13: 9780521384308
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2277/0521384303
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.2277/0521384303
Language: English
Additional information: Conference theme invited keynote paper given at HCI’89, the major European conference on human-computer interaction, held at the University of Nottingham, 5–8 September 1989
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > UCL Interaction Centre
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/15292
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