Wednesday, May 02, 2007

CHI 2007: Day 2

Today, I spent all day in a course at CHI taught by Susan Dray and David Siegel from consulting firm Dray & Associates. While it was a good course overall, the first half of the course was relatively slow and as the course progressed, topics seemed to become exponentially more useful to consider. Unfortunately, time became a factor and the parts I was most interested in were rushed through.

During one of the breaks for the day-long course, I met a coursemate from Stanford who did research for Sony in Paris in her last summer break as an undergrad. She took one day off to take this course and meet with her colleagues from the summer in Paris. In another break, I got up out of my seat and turned around to see a friend and fellow designer Anshuman. He also took the day off to take this course. They both seemed to also think the course was a tad too general for their tastes.

An unofficial recurring minor theme in the conference presentations and courses thus far is the defense of qualitative research against statistical significance. Challenges from engineers and managers seem to focus on concerns regarding sample size and a bunch of other factors in any experimental method. Each speaker has a different answer to it but the general idea is that statistical significance is irrelevant when discussing user studies. Speakers seem very adamant about it and I see what they are saying, but at the same time, I imagine it being much harder to defend in real life than they make it seem.

I've been wanting to talk to some of the groups of foreign attendees to see what HCI (and the industry of HCI-related design) is like in their countries. I ignorantly assume that many countries and their corresponding industries are behind us in what still seems like early stages for the USA. I also want to ask them which research labs, design firms, or companies from their countries they most admire. I'm pretty sure that would yield a bunch of interesting stuff to look at which would normally be much more tedious for someone like me to find out.

Being at a conference is oddly draining. I'll have to try save the rest of the ideas for future posts.

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