CHI 2015 Lifetime Practice Award: Susan Dray – Building Bridges, Not Walls


– Welcome to the Lifetime
Practice Award Session. I’m Rob Jacob from Tufts University and I’ll just briefly,
before I introduce Susan, tell you how we picked her, other than she’s wonderful. There is actually a process, and you may wonder for the future. SIGCHI has an awards committee, people generally that belong
to the SIGCHI Academy. People serve on it for three
years and this is my last year. I served as chair in my last year and we picked fabulous winners, we think. Next year if you’d like to nom, is an open nominations process, both for this award and
for the SIGCHI Academy. So if you’d like to nominate someone, the process runs around the fall. Steve Feiner will be chair next year, so by all means, feel
free to nominate people. But meanwhile, let’s talk about Susan. First, let me tell you
what this award is for. The SIGCHI Lifetime Practice Award is presented to someone, individuals, for outstanding
contributions to the practice and understanding of HCI. It recognizes the best
and most influential applications of HCI and, I know it makes you sound old, a lifetime of innovation and leadership. Susan, who needs no
introduction, gets one anyway. Susan Dray has worked to advance the human centered design since 1979, when hardly anyone could spell it. She worked in the Human Factors Research Group at Honeywell. She worked at American
Express on corporate, Usability of Corporate Systems. She was one of the
founders of SIGCHI in 1982. A number of us here
remember that, I think. She founded her own firm in 1993 and this provided user experience research for a wide range of
clients over many years. She believes, and I’m sure it’s true, that she was one of the 10
first consultants in HCI, which is extremely likely to be true. She did one of the first
ethnographic studies done by a consultant for
Hewlett-Packard back in 1994. She’s worked with international users. She’s worked with
usability studies in homes long before anyone did that kinda thing. She’s contributed to the evolution of usability, experience, research, and practice field research, naturalistic usability evaluation, international usability research, back before, most people
just doing it gloss, one way gloss in offices. She’s worked more recently
in developing countries. She’s helped to create the UCD4D, the User-Centered Design
for Development Community. She’s currently a Fulbright scholar on the faculty of the
Technological University of Panama. She’s a fellow of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, an ACM Distinguished Engineer. She won the SIGCHI Lifetime Service Award and now it’s time to win the SIGCHI Lifetime Practice Award. Her talk is called Building
Bridges, Not Walls. It probably says that right there. The Interdependence of
Academics and Practitioners in Human Computer Interaction and I think it’s going
to be very interesting. I’m delighted to welcome Susan and for us all to hear from her. (applause) – Wow. My lifetime, hmm. Well, it’s a really great
honor to be here with you and to have won this award. Reflecting back on my career at SIGCHI and the CHI conference has been a really wonderful luxury. It’s not something that I have spent a lot of time thinking about recently but this lecture has been
a really good opportunity to share with you something that’s really near and dear to my heart. Now, it may seem strange to you, but I, like many practitioners that I’ve talked to over the years, have often felt sort of like
a second-class citizen at CHI. CHI’s really prestigious core, after all, are the papers, right? And I’ve never written one because as hard as it is to get into CHI, I think that as a practitioner, it would be almost impossible. There are some practitioners
who’ve had great papers, but it just doesn’t feel
like it’s terribly likely, because it wouldn’t be an academic paper. This is in part because of the way that we assess papers, and it’s also because
of other factors like, that I’ll get into later on. At CHI, this leaves
things like case studies, and oh, by the way, Kaisa,
back here in the orange and I and two of our colleagues are co-chairs for case studies. Plug! For next year and we’re looking forward to having some really
wonderful case studies to include from all over the world. Case studies have changed
little bit this year. Hopefully it will be a little bit … It will look different
when you see the call, but please read it and hopefully submit. I think that this is because of a problem that I’m gonna talk about today. I want to talk with you about
what I feel is a big problem, and I actually believe
it’s a big enough problem that it threatens our field. It’s that serious. It’s something, therefore, that I think we all need to care about. It’s a problem because we live
in really different worlds, academics and practitioners. And so the question is what can we do? What’s an impact of this? What can we do to try to solve it? Now I’m going to present generalities and of course generalities are often wrong for the individual, even if they’re right over all. There are certainly academics, in fact, a number of you in this room, who do a wonderful job of
working across this bridge. (mumbles) Sorry, hmm. I think it’s time for water. What do you think? And there are practitioners, also, who are working at bridging. And so that’s fabulous and gold stars. Keep it up. There are also masters programs nowadays for practitioners at
places like UC Irvine, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, University of Washington,
Design and Engineering school, Bentley College, and to name a few. I mean that’s actually most of them, but it’s not too bad. It’s not super big, but it’s pretty good. It’s also not personal, okay? I wanna say that again. It’s not personal. Most of us have wonderfully
cordial relationships with each other here and are good friends. I have many wonderful, wonderful
friends and colleagues, including the guy who introduced me, who are in Academia, and I hope that my academic friends feel that way about me. So it’s not personal. There certainly are
people who are doing this, but I still believe it’s
a really serious problem, and I still believe that it’s something we need to do something about. So this wall. This wall between the world of Academia and the world practice. Specifically, I think
it is a major difference in our mindset, in our perspectives. It can occur even in companies, and actually I know of
a number of companies where there’s a wall between
the research organization and the rest of the organization. So, I know several companies where people in research don’t, aren’t allowed to or don’t talk to anybody in the business organization. Now, probably, very few of you have lost sleep over this. It’s one of those silent
killers, you know? Like whatever disease it is
that’s the silent killer. I know it’s something
that the SIGCHI leadership has certainly struggled
with this over the years and they’ve really done a good job at think about how to evaluate and value practitioners. From a historical perspective, unfortunately, back in 1991, a number of practitioners split off to form what at that time was called the Usability Professionals Association, which is now called the User Experience
Professionals Association. I was the Director of Publications
for UXPA for six years, and believe me, I tried really hard to get them to recognize CHI and to recognize the value
of the kind of research and the kind of mindset that those of you in this room bring. It wasn’t real easy, unfortunately. So there, I believe this wall really damages both practice and research. And specifically, if we
think about three groups, we have students, and increasingly now with academia being, having a harder time
finding jobs in academia, a lot of students are going into industry, and unfortunately, it’s very hard for academic programs
to fully prepare them for their new roles in industry. Academics, of course,
are concerned about this. They’re worried about
preparing their students, but it’s also as funding becomes leaner and harder to get in lean times, it’s harder to stay relevant when you aren’t connected … It’s really hard to do
this with a (clears throat) shoulder, but anyway. It’s also true that there are things that are valuable in industries, things like data sets that could really help to make research even more interesting and more relevant. But it’s hard to do that
and so without that linkage, you can lose the opportunity to make your research more relevant. Now, I’m a practitioner, so I’m gonna say a number of
things about practitioners that are, I think are issues. I don’t want to imply
that there are issues, that practitioners are
more messed up in some way. They’re not. There are things I know about more because it’s my, having worked as a
consultant for a long time. In fact, many of these things
that I’m gonna talk about are things that people have brought us in to try to help them in their
own organizations combat. Unfortunately, with practitioners, if we lose our scientific foundation, we really risk becoming just technicians, people who, you know, anybody can do it, so why bother hiring
somebody who actually knows something about user experience, human-computer interaction, be it, name it what it will, what you will. It deskills our work as practitioners and it makes it much more
tactical, more peripheral, it’s just a check box. You just have to, I have to
do something with usability. I have to do something with the user. It doesn’t matter what I do. And this is, unfortunately,
it’s already starting to happen. So, as a field we start losing our impact as a result of practitioners
becoming deskilled, et cetera. So, we all really pay a price for this. (mumbles) Okay so, the thing is
that in order to address and solve this problem, we first have to understand what the real differences are, because the mindsets that we have are different for reasons, and after all, it’s not because
we don’t want to do this. It’s really hard. And it’s also not
personal, as I said before, however there are some
who take it that way. I’ve heard epithets from people in the practitioner
community call academics some kinda nasty things, like baffins in the Ivory
Tower who are naval gazers and don’t know about the real world. Well, that’s pretty harsh. And I’ve also heard practitioners called fuzzy-headed opportunists
using questionable methods. I’ve even heard of practitioners being called whores by academics. Now, we’re never gonna solve the problem, as long as we hold these kinds of beliefs. These harsh words aside, you know, we have to admit there’s
some truth in them, but we still have to
find ways that we can, that we can really come to understand the relativity of our own thinking. And part of the problem is that there are not a lot of
us who have experience in both, feet in both camps, who’ve been academics and practitioners. There certainly are some of you, there’s some of you in this room, in fact, and I don’t claim to be an academic, because this is four month post, you know? But the fact that we
don’t know these things I think it’s important. So that’s why I want
to talk with you about comparing and contrasting the mindset of academia and the mindset of practice, and by the way this picture
is from that early ethno, it was actually the second
ethnographic study we did in offices and this guy was in Amsterdam, but that actually is me over
there in the far corner. So, some of you may know this amazing man, who is no longer with us. This is Gary Marsden, who was at the University of Cape Town. This is a this is a photo from a talk he gave at the Royal Society. But, as we all know, academics say, “We have to publish or perish,” right? This is, I mean, we all know this, right? Tenure, for young researchers, tenure is a goal, and obviously you have to be publishing in order to get tenure. Advancement to professor rank, for those of us who are
further along in our careers, also takes publishing. We also, of course, academics, I’m gonna use the we for both of these, advancement of knowledge
is really important. Making stuff is important. Learning about the world and how technology and
people work together, that’s very important, as is teaching. But when it comes right down to it, publish or perish is what
really rules the day. Now, the world of the
practitioner is really different. It’s really complex. It is a very different type
of intellectual enterprise from that of academia, but it is a very legitimate one. Practitioners have, by and large, the mindset of produce or perish and our goal is to contribute
to product success. A secondary goal for many
of us is integrating HCI or usability or user
experience or whatever into the software development process or the development process and get buy in and real understanding … I mean anytime, I think
a lot of people in, at least in the US, many people know that they need to have
some of this UX stuff, but they don’t really know what it is, and so there are a lot
of people who are trying to get that better known. It’s funny, if you look
at the job postings on something like LinkedIn
for user experience people, you’ll see that they’re asking for all kinds of coding tools and this and that and the other thing and the last thing on
the list is, you know, knowledge of human computer interaction or usability or whatever. Now, a friend of mine, who is actually a rocket scientist. He has a PhD from Harvard in Astrophysics, had this on his wall: It’s a lot like rocket
science, but a lot harder. “It’s not rocket science,
but a lot harder.” He’s currently doing user experience work and I think this says a
lot about, about what, what user, being a
practitioner can be like. So, for Academics, HCI
is your CORE discipline if you’re in an HCI Department. This is really different,
however, from practitioners. Practitioners are often
scattered into work groups where they may be the only HCI person and they have to work collaboratively with lots of other people
in order to survive and integrate with the team. Some companies, like Google, and Facebook, and some of the ones here, do have multiple UX people on a team, but still, UX is kind
of a fringed discipline. Ihe impact, therefore,
especially for people who are the singleton doesn’t come from the
soundness of the methodology, which nobody on the team can assess, or anything like that. It comes from personal influence. It comes from charisma. It comes from persuasiveness. It comes from conciseness, something I have trouble with. And how they can communicate with people who aren’t in the profession. Now, if we talk about careers, in academia, there is an expectation on the part of many people that there’s a track. You don’t change specialties a whole lot. You might make a little deviation, like here it curves into
the bushes at the end, but there’s relatively less job movement. You go up the academic ladder and that’s pretty much the expectation. However, with practitioners,
this is really not true. There’s lots more movement in and out of related fields,
up the corporate ladder, and it requires practitioners
to be really adept at switching mindsets. This can be good and bad, of course. Switching contents areas, going to work on a completely new product that doesn’t have anything to do with anything you’ve
ever worked on before, taking different organizational roles, maybe moving into a different department, or even into a different company. Now for consultants, this is,
that’s the name of the game. Everything you work on as
a consultant is a one-off. It’s a new thing. At least that’s been my experience. So now, let’s talk about time. Before I do this, I want to make it clear that everybody is working really hard. It isn’t about who works harder. Everybody feels they work
harder than anybody else, which is probably true, but there are differences in the way that time is actually measured. What are they? Academic time tends to be measured in terms of things like the academic year, scheduling around teaching,
or research milestones, or grant cycles, or paper due dates, or case study due dates, and in general, these are
somewhat longer timelines than the average practitioner
is going to be experiencing. Now that said, it’s absolutely possible that if you are in
competition, for instance, we’ve got to get our results out before CMU gets theirs out, ’cause we’re working on something similar, or if you have an industry partnership, that can speed up the time quickly, but in general, and remember
this is generalities, in general, it’s a different
way of measuring time. Practitioner time tends
to be much shorter. It’s measured in hours and days, weeks, quarters, sometimes; years, almost never. And it’s scheduled
around internal meetings and deliverables, product
life cycles, things like that, that tend to be much more granular and require people to be moving a lot. I’ll talk about the impact
of all of these things after we’ve gone through
sort of what the different, what some of these differences are. So, for success, for academics, you’re expected to get, have research grants to support students and things like that, to
publish, to have great citations, to have wonderful graduate students who have graduated from you, my students, and where they go, that’s all important, and ultimately the impact, the H index, the quality of publications, the influence you have in your own area, or becoming the expert on what you do, these are all things that are, are markers of merit for academics. Well, for practitioners,
it’s a little different. In general, we’re looking at things like your internal reputation, whether you get raises for yourself. There is team and time
pressure to be flexible and creative in coming up with new ways of getting data in ever
shorter periods of time, and there’s very little reward, if any, and almost no time, unless you count 3 A.M. in
the morning, for publishing. You can already see
that’s a big difference. We don’t get the benefit of
the practitioner experience, because they aren’t here with us. When an academic is
looking at going to CHI, there may be an issue of, “Do we have enough money,”
and things like that, but it isn’t like this
is a strange thing to do. Which it is for a lot of practitioners and many, many companies no longer even support conference attendance, and you have to make
a much different case. So. academics will say yes and practitioners will say no. That really changes the
dynamics in the conference. So, if we look at funding, there are a variety of sources, obviously, of funding for academia, for academics. Some of it is University funding. A lot of it, maybe even most of it, is, comes in external to the organization. You have research grants. It’s coming from places
like the Chinese and NSFC, which is the Chinese
equivalent, as I understand it. Somebody who knows this better
can tell me if I’m wrong. The equivalent of the National Science Foundation in the US. Also increasingly … Increasingly foundations like
the MacArthur Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are having, or issuing grants that are being used partnering with academics and things. The thing is that, usually, research grants are
reviewed mostly at least by your peers, people
understand your discipline, people who can see what the value of what you’re talking about is, and the funders are expecting that advancement of knowledge, understanding of the
value of the research, and putting that forward. It’s really important that
you can show the value, but the value in terms that people who are peers will understand, and the ability to be very
complete in your description, really thorough and have
really good references. That’s really convincing. Sometimes it’s not even
the length, within reason. This is different for practitioners. We’re funded through corporate budgets, which are usually departmental unit, business unit allocations. They’re reviewed, our requests are reviewed by people
outside our discipline, and we are constantly
having to sell usability or user centered design even in organizations
that are built bought in. People kind of go, “Well, why
do you have to resell it?” Well, people move into
new jobs, et cetera. So, the people who are evaluating requests are expecting a return on investment or contribution to commercial success. And unlike the academic
value for completeness, brevity is what’s convincing. You’ve heard of the elevator pitch, maybe a lot of you have them. That’s what you have to get down to. So, it’s really fast. And this pressure means, has many impacts, that are related to the time impacts, that we’ll talk about in a minute. If you think about academic values, academics are … I love you guys who are academics. You are able to tease things apart, to look at the dynamics
and see the detail. You may be able to, you may have a look at things
for statistical significance, or you may be using qualitative methods, but you’re, either way you’re
doing rigorous analysis, really looking at that
data and combing it, and making clear what the case is. The goal of course is, as I said before, deepening knowledge, creating new stuff, whether that’s interaction
styles, or whatever. And so those, that
ability to really narrow it in closely, really important. And again, by and large, you’re looking at peers’
judgments of you, your insiders, and in fact your academic
title has a lot of value. You’re thinkers, you’re understanders. and explainers, and explorers. I think that’s a very grant title, the very title on a grant of
the principal investigator sort of says it all. It’s wonderful, it’s just great. Things are kind of different
in practitioner land, however. Practitioners have to
make design decisions based on a very complex
interaction of factors. Many times they just do not have the data that they need to really make the decision that would be absolutely right. But there’s no time,
the data doesn’t exist. There’s no way to get,
it would cost too much. It’s impossible to find out, whatever. The emphasis then is on
practical significance, not statistical for the most part. ‘Cause there’s this pressure, remember? The pressure on results,
and teamwork, and buy in. Rigorous measurement is almost always something that kind of
goes by the wayside. Except for there are certainly companies like Fidelity, exact example of a bank that does under Tom Tellez does wonderful, very large a/b testing, and a lot of other things like that, that really are focusing on … They’re really big data stuff. And big data is something
that is definitely moving into the practice world. It’s just not quite there yet, but it’s on it’s way. These stats, however often
times are themselves gathered in a somewhat scrutinized way and gathered kind of quantitatively. So, they touch on the
kinds of things that we do and maybe we can be instrumental in helping to identify, for instance questions that should be on a survey or bad questions of course. There’s so many bad questions. It’s so easy to write
bad questions, isn’t it? It’s really hard to write good questions for a questionnaire. For those of you, like me, who were around in the day, this is actually the audience in CHI ’83 in Boston. I haven’t found you in it, Rob, but I’m sure you’re there. (laughing) So, when you think about communication, the main audiences for academics are other academics,
administrators, other HCI people. Remember, at the beginning
I said generalities? Of course there are other
people you’re talking to. People with grant, in the
granting cycle, et cetera. But still, there’s that insiderness again, that the fact that you’re
able to communicate in technical language. Each discipline has their own genre, and many researchers have a theme, what they are or want to be known for, and the way of convincing people is to use a Socratic method, right? Discussion, argument,
discussion, argument. That’s really great. Unfortunately, for us practitioners, we’re communicating with an
awful lot of different people from all kinds of disciplines, and different companies, too. We’re working with business people, with team members, engineers, and usually, we have to
use the other language. We have to find a way to communicate, and of course, being good human-centered design people, of course. We think in terms of
understanding the other and being able to communicate
in their language. So, once again,
practitioners on the outside. And, to convince, we
usually have to use numbers, return on investment, things like that, or other signs of impact, but not an H index, for sure. Some of you may recognize
this is the partial, a part of the cast from the … Actually, it’s one of my
absolute favorite cartoons, called Futurama. And they’re wonderful. Now, what are the impacts? What are the impacts of
this wall on academics? Well I think I mentioned earlier, there’s this lack of
exposure to corporate data, which can restrict research and there’s also, I think
on the part of some people, and I don’t think this is true
for those of you in the room, but I think it is true for maybe some of the people who aren’t here, is that there’s kind of
lack of understanding as to what the potential benefits might be of partnering with a practitioner. There are lots of
exciting things happening in industry these days,
lots and lots of them. I used to say that almost everything that was really, really cutting edge, was happening in industry, despite what was, all
the interesting things that were happening here, the things I was seeing in industry were even further, even more
cutting-edge, even more exciting, and of course, even more confidential. We talked about the
potential impact on students and it can be harder to get
internship possibilities and opportunities for students if you don’t have that
kind of link with academia. I’m sorry, with practitioners. Now I have a long list for practitioners, and I said that at the beginning, it’s not because practitioners
are more messed up, although maybe so, but because this is what I know, right? As a consultant. And these are the things
that I have heard about when I’ve gone into companies and worked closely with people who are trying to make changes in some of these things
within their own companies. So, the focus, the pressure, the time, the shortness of the time, make a really huge pressure on practitioners to cut
corners, to satisfy; some people use that word, satisfy. And you know what? This would be a really good
place to have some help from our academic friends, because sometimes I
think corners can be cut, and other times they can’t, but as a practitioner,
you don’t necessarily have the knowledge or the insight to know which is which. So for instance, I know
of a company that was, has been using what they called Lean UX, and there they evaluate
products with maybe fewer and fewer people each time. Maybe three users from
three different roles as an example. And the question I always have it’s like, when is it lean enough? I mean, does it get to a point where instead of doing three
users and three roles, we do one user who used to do two roles and then maybe we’d just kind of, it’s like homeopathic UX. You know, you drop a drop in and it’s enough for the whole thing. This is kind of problem, don’t you think? So there’s this pressure to compromise, to cut the number, to use different ways of recruiting, instead of carefully figuring out what you need in the kind of
folks that you’re talking with, instead doing what we call a
friends and family recruit, which it’s obvious what that is, right? And that’s fine, sometimes. Sometimes that’s exactly
right, but it’s not always. In fact it often isn’t,
but it gets done a lot. Another thing that I see, I’ve seen this so often. and that is that there just isn’t time and sometimes there isn’t knowledge to analyze what you’re finding
and to really understand it. And so, you sort of
abdicate your role for this, your responsibility to
analyze, to do analysis and you know, you tell the
Executive Vice President, sometimes what they want to hear and you have all the caveats. Oh, you know, this is
just based on three people and there’ll be more data and we’ll be doing the analysis
and all this kind of stuff. Well, all of that gets forgotten. What is remembered is what you tell them after that and it’s really hard when what happened with the first three turns out to not be the
case with the next 40, because they’ve already
encoded what it’s gonna be, what it is based on that early, those early findings. Another thing I’ve seen,
unfortunately all too often, is using field work as an opportunity to go anecdote collecting. It’s kind of like butterflies
in your net, you know? So you don’t go visit a lot of people. You visit one person and you record all the
little gems that you can and that’s it. No analysis, no nothing. You take it home and you make
it into a nice little persona with five cute pictures and that’s it. That’s not the way to do it, right? You’re supposed to say, “Right.” (audience mumbling) Okay, good. That’s not the last
audience participation. I’m just warming you up. (audience laughing) (maniacal laughter) Sorry, my evil laugh
is getting in the way. And because there isn’t
support for publishing, you never get the feedback from your peers saying, “This is a horseshit method.” You just never know and you
don’t come to a conference, you never get, you really never
learn what you need to do. Another thing, this may be heretical, but remote usability. Now, remote usability can be great, if you know the context, the
types of people, et cetera, and you have a task that
lends itself to that. But remote usability is not appropriate for an awful lot of the things
it’s getting used for today. And oh my goodness, the other day, I heard of somebody talking
about remote ethnographies. Now, isn’t that an oxymoron? Not, not good. It’s really treacherous, don’t you think? I mean, this is not good. For consultants, unfortunately,
I hate to say this, it’s kind of a race to the bottom. You know, whoever’s the
cheapest, the fastest, that’s the one who’s gonna get the job. They’re being hired by people who have no idea about quality. They don’t know the difference,
so they just go on price, or they just go on how
much time it’s gonna take. Mmm. And therefore, they’re also
hiring lower-level people. They’re getting poor results, which can have blow back
on our entire profession, and it’s a problem. I think this kind of stuff
puts our profession at risk. Yes, we need to adapt
to change, of course, but we should not be doing so at the express, at the expense
of core scientific principles of our profession. And sometimes we need
to know what we can do to push back when we’re asked to do things that don’t make sense, so that we don’t end
up in a situation where people don’t think we need
any kind of special training, so it deskills us and therefore, our whole pipeline of
jobs goes away, collapses. I think it’s kind of important. Can you tell? So, the result. We have a wall, and yes
there’s some arrow slits where we can shoot at
each other sometimes, or we can call through, but because of these very different types of intellectual activity, and work styles, and organizational political dynamics, and values that are very
deep and fundamental, we, there’s this wall
that we really have to, I believe, deal with. Now, we are an applied field. We need each other. We’re like medicine and biology, right? Academics, biology, and
medicine, practitioners. If the doctor doesn’t have
a knowledge of biology, it would be fair to
call him or her a quack. And likewise, if a biologist
never does anything that has any relevance at all to anything a doctor might want to know, yes there’s room for that, but if most of them never
did anything like that, it would be sort of an
irrelevant discipline, and we don’t want to view that. HCI is way too important
to let that happen. Now, there weren’t always walls. For those of you, this is CHI ’94. Yay! We have a chair here. We have Don Patterson, who was at Lawrence
Livermore Labs at the time, Raul Smith at Northeastern, me, and Ben Shneiderman at the
University of Maryland. CHI was young and small and more importantly,
it was undifferentiated. This may be true in your country. There are certainly countries
right now around the world and whole continents
where this is the case. The dynamics are the same, whether you’re cordial or not. And oh, by the way, it wasn’t
just because of the drinks. (light laughing) This is a CHI 2002 workshop and a number of these
faces are familiar faces, including the person, the
woman in the front row, giving you the … Exactly. (laughs) Okay, so what can we do now? I think there are two things. There’s a bunch of attitudes
that we need to think about and there’s some behavior. And yes, attitudes can follow behavior, but let’s look at it
first as our attitudes. The three attitudes that I think that are most important for us to develop, are awareness of our own mindset and our own perspective, our own blinders to the
extent we can do that. And that is the Berlin
Wall prior to its fall on November 9th, 1980, 1989, sorry. Sometimes we discover these by accident. This has happened to me a number of times, where we do something or say something and it doesn’t have the impact
that we meant it to have, it has a very different impact, and we go, “Oh (gasps), I didn’t mean to.” You know, we all have those, and that’s a really good
place for awareness to start, is at those times. You know, pay attention to
those teachable moments, so to speak, and using them to sort of deepen our own understanding of ourselves. Now, we also need to be willing, and this is the Berlin Wall again. We need to be willing
to work across the wall, so to speak, and chip at it, tear it down. It takes a lot of courage, and it takes a lot of confidence too, confidence that you do have something to offer each other and courage to do what may not feel comfortable, at least at first. Lastly, you know we need to
develop respect and trust. We need to, and the end
result of all of this is that we’ll have better
practice and better research. Okay, so you with me so far here? Okay, so how do we actually do this? I mean yes, respect, I respect her. How do I actually make a linkage? Well, you can think of an early bridge as being stepping stones across the water, and forming relationships, understanding the other
person’s perspective, as well as our own, learning about the world collaboratively. A first step at this, you can … You can, for instance
read business publications or books as an academic, or attend business seminars or have, use people in practice can
link in business schools. Academics, you might want to join UXPA. It’s cheap, and it’s got a great magazine and a great journal. And so there are certainly ways that we can learn about
each other’s worlds, even if we aren’t actually
partnering with anybody yet. We can prepare our self. And then we can actively
partner, on projects, on teaching, whatever. For academics, the real world emphasis can balance the academic tendency towards specialization. It’s risks of fragmentation. Fragmentation just makes it harder to integrate the knowledge identify potential
application of that knowledge. So, by working together on
projects or on teaching, we can help to inform both
sides of the equation. And respect, here it is again. But here I mean it in terms of committing to work through misunderstanding. So, not giving up just
because things get difficult, or because you get called
out for thinking X or Y, and it insults the other person, whatever. You have to stick with it, it takes time. Now, the next two slides are
classic bad slides, right? Yes, they are. However I have a stack of them down here if anybody wants paper copy, or I’ve also put them on my website. So, there a lot of things
that academics can do to make this bridge with practitioners, and I really kind of like the idea, of a bunch of academics from CHI, submitting to UXPA’s magazine UX, or to the journal, Journal
of Usability Studies. I think that both of those
could really, really, really use your input and use your perspectives. Practitioners can do a lot
of stuff too, obviously. I think for me, the one seeking help with messy problems, that’s been wonderful. That’s really been valuable. I’ve done this a number of
times, and I want to thank you. Some of you are out here
and you know who you are. They’re also on my website, and actually can just do
Dray.com at the moment. That’s the thing on the top. Those of you who know me, this will not be a surprising slide. I think we need to celebrate
together, have fun. It’s not, you know … We learn better when
we’re having fun right? And celebrations can be big like this, or they can be, whoops what happened, or they can be small. This is Sarah Bly and me, and we were the Humane
interface in 1985 and ’86 where we gave individual
gag gifts to everybody who was on the conference committee. I mean obviously that’s
not really practical now, but it was a lot of fun back then. And then it doesn’t happen overnight, so you just have to keep doing it. Repeat, and repeat, and repeat. There’s lots of pressures driving us apart and we have to commit for the long-term, we have to commit to keep going, even when things get rocky, because I say when not if, because they will get rocky, they will. Okay so this is the, “Tell
’em what you told ’em” slide. We’ve talked about these things today: what the problem is, what we, the fact that
we should care about it. Get some ideas as to why
the problem is there, because we live in different worlds, and I really hope that we can find better ways to work together to bring down those walls
of our respective work between our respective worlds. It will make work more relevant, more enjoyable, more impactful, and I know this, ’cause
I’ve seen it happen in very strong academic
industry partnerships, and a number of you in
this room are involved in just those kinds of partnerships. So, another thing that you guys could do is talk about these. Talk about them with
your academic colleagues who may not yet be involved
in these kinds of things and even consider mentoring them, because you know, you’re
further down the road. We have to become what I think are engaged scholars and
thoughtful practitioners. I really love this phrase. I think it really encapsulates what I think is most important, because if we become engaged scholars, by definition, we’re going to
be working across that wall, we’re gonna get rid of that wall, and we’re gonna have better research, more interesting research, more opportunities for our students, and I’ve already told you
that I think practitioners desperately need to
have academic help too. So, just to sum up, this has been my motto since the beginning of time, I think. If the user can’t use it, it doesn’t work. It’s also true that if
the academic can’t use it, or the practitioner can’t use it, then we are still not there yet. And I want to sum this up, but I need to ask some of my friends in green shirts and not green shirts, and I invite anybody in the room who would like to come up; this gives you a little bit of a, a kind of an idea of what
we’re going to be doing, right? And for those of you who
didn’t know about this, you don’t have to dance. I’m not gonna dance. That would be frightening, But, you know, you can just
come and bop a little bit. Okay, come on, come on! Come on, we need at least one more person. Thank you, come on, come on, come on. Excellent. Okay, now this may turn out
to be a complete disaster and don’t hold it against me. Don’t hold it against them, for sure, ’cause they’re innocent,
they’re just helping me out. Okay? What’s that? You ready? Got your bumping down here? Okay. (“Gingham Style”) ♫ Super bridging style ♫ Bridging style ♫ We really have a problem ♫ For between us there’s a wall ♫ And it doesn’t hurt just one of us ♫ It really hurts us all ♫ This problem is longstanding ♫ And it’s not unique to us ♫ But we really need to fix it ♫ And without a great big fuss ♫ It’s there because we’re different ♫ In our worlds and in our views ♫ In our mindsets and our funding ♫ And how time is measured, too ♫ What gets rewarded, what gets counted ♫ The whole course of our careers ♫ Who we speak to in what language ♫ When we’re talking to our peers ♫ C’mon and join me ♫ As we strengthen ♫ All of CHI, that is no lie ♫ ‘Cause together, we are stronger ♫ You and I ♫ All of CHI ♫ Hand in hand together all of us in CHI ♫ Super bridging style ♫ Bridging style ♫ Super Bridging style ♫ Bridging style ♫ Hey everybody ♫ Let’s tear down the wall ♫ Hey everybody ♫ Academics we must publish ♫ Or we won’t have jobs for long ♫ We need grants and we have students ♫ And our H indexes too ♫ If we are to get our tenure ♫ Or progress in our careers ♫ We need research that supports us ♫ Or off the tenure track we’ll veer ♫ On the other side ♫ We are in companies you see ♫ And we have different lives ♫ Produce or perish is what must be ♫ And look for change ♫ And allies who can help us sell ♫ Beloved HCI ♫ From the inside ♫ C’mon and join me ♫ As we strengthen ♫ All of CHI, that is no lie ♫ ‘Cause together, we are stronger ♫ You and I ♫ All of CHI ♫ Hand in hand together all of us in CHI ♫ Super Bridging style ♫ Bridging style ♫ Super bridging style ♫ Bridging style ♫ Hey everybody ♫ Let’s tear down the wall ♫ Hey everybody ♫ When we break down the wall ♫ And build a bridge for all ♫ We can find the riches to be found ♫ Together all ♫ We can help each other strengthen ♫ How we think and do ♫ When we build bridges strong ♫ And destroy the wall ♫ Hey everybody ♫ Let’s tear down the wall ♫ Hey everybody ♫ Super bridging style ♫ (applause and cheering) Good job! Aren’t they fabulous? Wow. Thank you so much. (laughing) – Thank you. – Yeah, you do need to start
a new career, Margaret. Dancing! Aren’t they wonderful? This is great. I can’t wait to see the video. I was too busy stumbling over the words. – There was no rehearsal. – No, there was no rehearsal. I just said, come up here
at this time and do it. But I think they did very well. So … Thank you very much. Wait a second, what
happened to the last slide? Okay, it says thank you in
many different languages. That’s all. (laughing) (applause) So, we have some time
for questions or comments or arguments or more dancing? (laughing) It’s never a good sign
when everybody leaves when questions start. – [Voiceover] So, Susan,
you literally rock. You absolutely rock. Alicia Papin, University
of Colorado, Boulder. So, first an observation, then a question. For a community of people
who are so committed, is so committed to the practice of people in other domains when we study the things that we do, it is a wonder that we don’t
attend to our own practice. – Yeah, Schumaker’s children, I think. – [Voiceover] Yeah, right. And then there is an
academic practice, too, so there’s all kinds of practices, but in terms of the UX practice, it’s a wonder that we
don’t attend to that, and so that would be a subject for a great research project right, which itself would be kind of
a bridging exercise as well. The question is, I love the photos that you showed us and 1994 was actually my very first CHI, I do recall once you said it the feeling of having this
much more integrated purpose, I think and so thank you
for reactivating that memory of mine as a young graduate student. I wonder if you think that HCI’s success, and I’ll just, both the discipline, both the practice, both
the actual interaction the things that we do with our devices if its success has been the reason, we have actually splintered so much. Is our attention divided? Have we had to specialize? Is it, you know, what are the … I wonder what are the many factors that have led of course to these then different temporal schedules, and different incentive
structures, and all these things, and I wonder if it’s there a success of it that has done that? – Yeah, I think that’s
a really good point. I do think the fact that when a discipline is young,
it’s pretty tight, right? It’s undifferentiated. We don’t, we didn’t have
mobile HCI and CSCW, and group and all these
other types of pieces of the area that are kind
of slicing and dicing. And I think whenever you have that, inevitably you have this potential for there to be a rupture. It isn’t true across the board. I know the professional organization EPIC, which it was formed
by, originally by folks from the anthropology sphere. They make a very
explicit, their mission is that they are going to
be interdisciplinary between different disciplines and also between academics
and practitioners. And they are very … I mean they’re almost like, you know, police about it, which
isn’t necessarily good, but that strong commitment
on their website, I think gets a particular meaning across. Thanks. – [Voiceover] Hi, John
Thomas as you probably know. So I sympathize with
the theme of the talk, and I’ve been thinking about our relation, our SIGCHI relationship
with UX and human factors and some other people. It also occurs to me and
maybe you hinted at this, that in addition to these two groups, there’s a much larger group of people who are actually doing and impacting user experience, who know that they are, but they’re don’t belong to either, any of these organizations, and then I would say my intuition is I don’t have any data, that there’s an even much
larger group of people that should be doing HCI and UX, but don’t even have any idea
that they should be doing it let alone that they should be learning from one of these organizations. I mean, do you have that? – Yeah, I agree with you, I think that when we think
about design, for instance, and design thinking, and designers, there are huge numbers of designers and design thinker out there, who they by and large aren’t at CHI. Or at UXPA’s meeting. But they’re huge, and other organizations
are huge, huge, huge. And but I agree with you. There are still, there’s a lot of room for helping people understand the value and the importance of HCI. We’ll do a better job of that reinforcing each other’s
messages, I think. So, does that answer you question? – [Voiceover] Yes. – Okay. – [Voiceover] Hi, Susan,
Margaret Burnett, Oregon State. I really liked the point
that made in your talk, and so I was thinking about how how we could sort of
inspire some of the younger people in the audience who are thinking, “Well, I wanna do that, but
what exactly does it look like?” So, I was wondering if
you could just tell us one concrete example, maybe
that you’ve been part of, where you or somebody in
the industry that you know partnered up with academia in a way that helped everyone. – That’s a great example,
I mean a great question. I’m trying to think of
a really good example. I know there are a couple
of you in the audience who have great examples. Anybody care to say? Oh, you’re putting me on the spot. I think, I know we were working on a bunch of really complicated controls for an advanced piece of scientific measurement equipment, and I was consulting to
a company about that, and we brought in … I’m trying to say this in a way that doesn’t violate my
confidentiality agreement. We brought in people from academia who were trained in the subject that the people who are
going to be using this, this scientific equipment work from or were you knew what those requirements would be from their perspective. And it was, we could never have done that without them and they
couldn’t have ever done, they could never have
built this, you know, equipment themselves, because it was just it, you
know, it was just too big for them. – [Voiceover] Hi, Susan, Lauren Trevini, University of Minnesota. So, I guess a comment and then maybe a couple questions. I thought, you know, you said, I guess researchers and
practitioners in our area should work together just as biologists and medical people should work together. I mean, I’m just going to guess, but I presume biologists
and medical people totally don’t work together. They go to completely
different conferences, and so I wonder as fields mature if that’s just not inevitable. And then the second thing is … You know, it occurs to me, many academics, we’re working on, let’s
say interactive systems, and we are an applied field, and Leisha works with people who do disaster management. I’ve worked with people
who do transportation. Many people have worked with practitioners in the area of health and medicine, and so I think that it’s not
so much that there’s a wall between researchers and user
usability professionals. As researchers are working with people on application areas, and maybe this bifurcation
between people who of, you know, creating new knowledge and new techniques and
applying it in domains, versus people who are applying
well known techniques, it’s not so much that there’s a wall, as there’s a separation of concerns. So, I don’t know. I wonder what you think of that. – Well, you’re one of
the people who I know does really good research
together with practitioners. And … (distant speaker off mic) What? I’m sorry. – [Voiceover] But not
usability practitioners. – Oh no, I don’t mean practitioners meaning as somebody who
runs usability evaluations. Practitioners can come
in all different flavors. You’re really good at it, but trust me. There are a hell of a lot of
people out there who are not, a lot of them. So, maybe that you don’t see it so much, because that’s not the world you live in, but it is true that it is out there. I’ve seen it, it’s scary. – [Voiceover] Hi, I’m Susan, from Amazon, one of the few practitioners
standing up here. – Can you just talk really loud. – [Voiceover] Sorry,
I’m Susan, from Amazon, and want to mostly just to say thank you for this presentation. It really did resonate with me. 15 years in the field of
usability, user research, a lot of those things are
really true, very true. But also, I think from a
practitioner point of view, a lot of us realize
that these are problems, and like I was able to convince my boss to come to this conference this year. I am the only person here from Amazon, so I’m one of the success stories, but the other thing is that they’re now, we’re now doing a lot
more internal conferences, because we can’t publish outside. We can’t talk about our research. We can’t talk about what we’re doing. And so, I don’t know about
the smaller companies, but the larger companies, you know, there is kind of a coming
together of researchers to say we can’t lose this. We need to do it on our own. We call horseshit on each other, monthly. We get together and do that. So, I wanna say not all is lost, but this was a great talk, and I can’t wait to share it
back with my Amazon peers. – That’s great, that’s great, and I think you’re right that as people are doing user experience work, are doing more and more confidential, as they get into more cutting edge things, it becomes harder and harder. I know I can’t talk to you about most of the stuff that I’ve done, because of the confidentiality
agreements that I have, and so in those cases, you know, you’re sort of taking that
and making it into a positive by using, by having an
internal conference, and as long as you feel, as long as there is enough
expertise in that group to really help each other learn, to critique if necessary,
I think that’s great. So, good job. And I’m glad you’re here, and you’ve got the right name, too. (light laughing) Go for it. – [Voiceover] Well I
don’t have the right name. I’m Wendy Kellogg, CHI ’94 chair and I also very much appreciate your talk and the sentiment behind it, but I think I had a reaction
a little bit like Lawrence and what I wanted to
share was a distinction that Bill Gaver made it at DIS 2008 when I commissioned him, actually, to give a keynote on science versus design and I think it’s applicable here. And the distinction that he made that I’ve always found very
interesting and very useful is that has to do with
the different purposes, and specifically, the
forms of accountability of science versus design, and he’s a guy who’s had
a foot in both fields, and understands them. So science, he said, has
epistemological accountability, where the key question is how do you know what you know? What is the evidence, and how do you, how do you know that what
you’re claiming is true? But design, like practice
and usability practice, I think, has aesthetic accountability, where the fundamental
question is does it work? And to ask that very broadly, not aesthetic in the sense
of what does it look like? And I think that’s very profound, and I recalled a discussion among researchers and practitioners at CHI several years ago that actually got quite
heated and contentious, because I think in some ways, researchers don’t
understand practice right? The attempts that researchers have made to be relevant to practice
are implications for design, which is a very shallow approach of trying to take a fundamental knowledge or understanding of something
and apply it to practice. So, I think it’s very key
to what you’re trying to do to discover where the common ground is, because there has to be
education both sides. The researchers from the get-go are not gonna know a lot
about practical situations. In fact, at IBM research
where I spent almost 30 years, I was sent in my first
year off to a consult for a part of the company where somebody was doing
usability engineering. Their problem that they were given was to make a database search facility for IBM products better,
’cause it was really bad. You can search for “not modem” and get back all the modems
that IBM had for sale. And so I said, “Well let me take a look “at the data that’s in your database,” and basically it was
completely uneven, you know? There was not even the same minimal set of characteristics. I said “Well here’s your problem. “You can’t really make a good search “when your data are so
uneven and screwed up.” He said, “Well I can’t
do anything about that. “That’s off the table,” right? And so, that’s the kind of difference a researcher wants to
imagine how things should be and imagine possible solutions. And I said, “Yes I will scurry
back now to my Ivory Tower, “because I feel for you, but
I have no idea what to do.” – Right. – [Voiceover] Okay, so
it’s the common ground, and I don’t know how we get there, but … – That’s a really good observation. Very good. – [Voiceover] Hi, Gary Olsen, UCI. I just want to … The last two lists you presented us, you know, the kind of tips for researchers and practitioners, I thought that was a
really interesting list. I just want to kind of
add a couple things, mainly from the academic side. One thing is, Gene and I have done all of our sabbaticals in industry, and that’s been a very,
very enriching for us as academics, ’cause we
understand better I think what some of the issues are. The other thing is that, and I would just would
encourage other academics to think of that as a
real legitimate option. The other thing is, we’ve had a fair amount of
corporate funding over the years, but for us it’s not any fun
to have corporate funding if we cannot work with the company. And so almost all of the
corporate funding we’ve had has been in partnerships with the company and what problems are of interest to them. And again I think it’s
very easy for academics to take the money and run, and I think I would just
encourage my academic colleagues, to if you get corporate funding, to work with the companies
that are of interest to them. – Yeah, there are lots of riches in that. Thank you. John. – [Voiceover] Hi, it’s John again. I was gonna agree with what Gary said, and maybe expand on that a little bit that you were asking earlier for examples. When I ran the AI Lab at Nynex, we had some good long term collaboration with Earhardt Fisher at
the University of Colorado, and we had exchanges of personnel when we worked on common problems, and I think part of the key there is to do it over a period of time, not just kind of a one off– – Exactly, so you
develop the relationship. – Yeah, yeah. The other thing I was gonna mention … Put a plug in anyway for one way of of collecting knowledge
in a way that’s practical and allows you to generalize across cases is the development of a pattern language. And people have found this
very useful, for example, in object-oriented programming. If people are interested, they should look up Christopher Alexander, who was an architect who looked at architectural solutions across a large number
of different cultures and different situations and so on, but some people have applied that to HCI as well. – Good, thank you. Christian. – [Voiceover] Yeah, Christian Shrump from (mumbles) University. I have, my foreign boss would as well, as I’ve worked in industry and academia. And from my perspective, the most important point that you made was the creating of the
awareness of one’s own, awareness of one’s own assumptions, what you learn whenever
you do imperfect research. – Yes, definitely. – [Voiceover] And it’s even independent from what we discussed here. If it’s HCI practitioners or HCI academics it’s even … Well, it applies to
mankind, it applies to all. So, I think we should
start at the education, even before the
university, K-12, whatever, to bring this awareness to the people, ’cause it doesn’t matter if
you talk to mathematicians or computer scientists,
or managers, whatever. This is from my
perspective, my experience, the very key. The sooner you get aware
of your own assumptions, the sooner you are able to understand whatever mental model,
or mindset, or framework, whatever someone else is working on, in, or talking about. So, that’s from my perspective, the most important thing. – Thank you very much. Sorry, go ahead. – [Voiceover] Sorry, and the
second issue I found as well, it’s a lot of times, it’s not about science versus practitioners, it’s about a power struggle. – It’s about what? – [Voiceover] A power
struggle, it’s about power. Who has the power? Who has the power to make decisions. So, you find this in industry. You find this in the academic world, which brings me back to the first point. So, if you’re aware of
your own assumptions, if you’re aware of your own ego, this is from my perspective
the most important step to understand and to develop empathy and so on and so forth. – That’s great. And you mentioned the idea
of intellectual maturity to be aware of that by being mature enough
to know about it as well. Well, listen, it’s time for us to stop. I’m happy to talk to anybody
who wants to talk more. There are sheets down here
with the bulleted list, if you’re interested in paper. And if not, feel free
to go to the website. I’d love to hear what you
have to say about this. Thank you so much, and especially thanks to our dancers. (applause)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *