Fordyce Week 10

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a field that only continues to grow. Computing systems were first forms of calculating machines, but with development became symbol processors and highly advanced user interfaces that allowed a more fluid relationship between the user and the input/output of the computer. The way we use computers today have become near extensions of our physical beings. In Myer’s article, he writes “Even the World Wide Web is a direct result of HCI research: applying hypertext technology to browsers allows one to traverse a link across the world with a click of the mouse” (Myers). Computing systems are what allow the information to exist, but HCI research are the developments in computation that make it easily accessible to users. Without HCI, most of us wouldn’t be able to access the information. Myers helps delineate the conceptual leaps and “explosive growth” that has occurred in the HCI field – he provides a useful timeline for the development of the everyday things we have become extremely accustomed to:

This graphic is useful in understanding what concepts the core elements of computing systems were developed with HCI. Something as simple as the “direct manipulation interface” – where we use our mouse to move objects on a screen (in other words, being able to grab objects, move them, and change their size) – was something that had to be developed as an interaction design concept. Everything seems so obvious now because of the ease with which we do them, but they weren’t originally obvious concepts to develop. Most of what I did to create this very post, originated as some kind of interaction concept.

As Irvine explains in his paper, “the history of designs for books, libraries, and techniques for linking one section of text to another, or one book to another… have long histories, and many of the early concepts and techniques underlie our more recent concepts for hypertext and hyperlinking in GUI interfaces” (Irvine). It’s interesting to compare our modern computational practices with historical means of communication and idea sharing – much of it is rooted in the same concepts, only today it exists in a more machine-like, efficient form. Computation specific symbolic cognition (how we understand symbols – generally speaking) has become a kind of learned language because of how second nature it has become.




Brad A. Myers, “A Brief History of Human-Computer Interaction Technology,” Interactions 5, no. 2 (March 1998): 44-54.

Martin Irvine, Introduction to Symbolic-Cognitive Interfaces: History of Design Principles (intro essay).