A small group of people, mostly participants in this past week’s annual “CHI” (Computer-Human Interaction) conference, have formed a community to promote the exchange of information between research and practice in the fields involved with making computer systems and web sites better suited for use by the people who use them. This community exists under the auspices of the Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM’s) Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI), and we call it Research-Practice Interaction. Our mission is as follows:
The Research-Practice Interaction community is a bridge between research and practice in HCI, including all flavors thereof (user experience, usability, interaction design, information architecture, etc.etc.). We aim to promote the exchange of information between researchers and practitioners, such that research and its results are more accessible to practitioners and that practitioner information needs are conveyed to researchers.
This community arises from the work that several of us have been doing in this area over the last few years, in SIGCHI and elsewhere. We are concerned when we hear practitioners say that the CHI conference is not relevant to them, when we know that it offers rich opportunities for cross-fertilization and has much content that would clearly be relevant if it were easier to digest. We are concerned when we read research papers that use valid research methods but unrealistic examples or situations, when we know that using realistic examples would make them more relevant to practice and more solid as useful research.
At CHI2010 we held a workshop on this topic (see the recap). (Similar workshops were held at the 2010 Information Architecture Summit and the 2011 conference of the Usability Professionals Association.) We concluded that the research and practice communities are what they are, for reasons that support their internal needs; and rather than beating our heads against the walls trying to change them, we who have (or want to have) some understanding of both communities need to build bridges and information conduits between them.
Hence the SIGCHI Research-Practice Interaction Community.
ACM members can join the community as a full member. Nonmembers can sign up for a free acm.org account and join the community as an affiliate, to receive updates and information.
If you care about the flow of information between research and practice in the field of interaction between people and technology, join us in helping make it better!