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Research and practice gaps

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I will have a focus on the gaps between research and practice in user experience during my April conference run.

From April 7-10, I will be in Phoenix at the 2010 IA Summit. On Saturday the 10th, I am hosting a discussion on Bridging IA Research and Practice with Andrea Resmini.

We tried to get a pre-conference consortium organized, but will settle for this meeting to hopefully get a head start on 2011. The "research track" at the IA Summit has been a slowly traveled, winding road. One bend was a panel in 2006 and I wondered then if we had turned a corner. Still looking.

From Phoenix, I fly directly to Atlanta for CHI 2010. I am part of a great team that organized a Sunday workshop on Researcher-Practitioner Interaction (the call for participation has passed, but it has a good overview).

I am looking forward to the workshop because I get to spend the day with people who know a lot more than me about the challenges facing the HCI research and practitioner communities. There are a lot of great ideas for closing the gap which have surfaced in their position papers; but there are no easy answers.

If the topic interests you but you are not already part of the workshop, then you can attend our special interest group meeting at 9am on Wednesday, April 14th: How to bring HCI Research and Practice Closer Together. We will recap the workshop and engage more people in the conversation. After it is all done, I hope we will have something substantial to back to the community.

So far, I only know of 1 other person crazy enough to hit the overlapping IA Summit and CHI conference. If you are also one of these crazies, contact me. If you are just a "normal crazy" who is attending only one of these 2 awesome conferences, then be sure to track me down and say hello.


1. The wiki from the CHI 2010 workshop still needs some more work (don't they all), but we have some notes, and the position papers are a fun read.

2. Don Norman was not at the workshop, but he is also talking about The Research-Practice Gap. I am not finding much to disagree with Don about (is that a good thing or a bad thing?). We definitely talked about the role of the translator at the workshop, and I think some things will be in place to make the next CHI conference a little bit better venue for people who want to help bridge the gap.

There really is a gap between researchers and practitioners -- a necessary gap. The very things that makes someone good at one of those activities often makes them not very good (and often not even interested in) the other thing. That is why I believe we need translators: Translational designers/developers.

Agreement on issues like this can only be a good thing. My views on agreement and disagreement are these:

It is only through disagreement that we learn. (When someone tells me they agree with me or that they like something I have done, although it is nice to hear, I don't learn anything. When someone agrees -- intelligently and politely -- then the ensuing discussion informs both of us. I learn from disagreements. I often modulate my opinions: sometimes completely change my mind. Disagreements are wonderful.

BUT: It is only through agreement that we ever get anything done. Disagreements teach us, but then, we must agree so that we can band together and accomplish something.