Education: why "HCI"? (was RE: Ph.D. in HCI)

21 May 2004 - 3:57pm
10 years ago
7 replies
1377 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

I was reading the last part of the Ph.D. thread and well it occurred to me
that people were using "HCI" to mean interaction design. HCI is seldom a
design degree (that's one piece), and it is not equal to Interaction Design.

Maybe it is that HCI is a research degree and SHOULD be done the way it
currently is, but a design degree is more like a professional degree and
should probably be done in a very different department than an HCI degree.

I wonder if any of us really need a Ph.D. to do our jobs. I can see a higher
degree in design being very effective for jump starting an education to
match 5 years or so experience in the field, but if you have that 5 years,
is an education really going to ad any more value? Has it just become a
lithmus test for recruiters? Are we as a society so turned on by letters
after our names?

Anyway, I think my main point in this thread is that maybe we should try to
focus the conversation on what IxD education should be and not HCI.

BTW, I can see that if I was going to head up the usability or ease of use
lab at IBM that I should have a PhD, but if I was going to be working on a
project for IBMs Lotus UI Team, even in a lead position, anything more than
a Masters, seems like overkill and then a masters in what? Design? HCI?
Media? Anthro? Cog?

-- dave

Comments

22 May 2004 - 3:22am
Olly Wright
2007

Okay, I'll bite...

I teach at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, a two-year masters
program in interaction design.

Many of the people who have come to do masters degrees do it in order
to deepen their skills or change direction a bit. There are people here
who come from product design and are interested in looking more at
different types of interactivity. There are web or mobile phone
producers, designers and architects (interface, user experience,
information architects...) that want to work in physical computing or
different interfaces. We have architects who want to work on ubiquitous
computing. It's really nice to not have to focus on a bottom line or
justify in business terms what you're doing (in the way you need to do
working in a corporate setting). This doesn't mean that you ignore
business, but it's not a limitation.

Ivrea doesn't offer a Ph.D., and not many exist in design (the
Institute of Design at IIT in Chicago offers one, and there's a Doctor
of Design offered at Harvard... I don't know about CMU... the
Politecnico in Milan offers one... and I think other schools do in
Europe, maybe K3 in Malmö...) I'm sure that I'm seeing a limited view
of things, and maybe someone can list other Ph.Ds.

Getting a Ph.D. allows for research and depth in a particular area of
interest that contributes back to the field. Design research is
something important as well, and produces work that stretches our
understanding of design and its impact (it could be on ethnographic and
sociology, or on design process, or new interfaces, or... you name it).
The kinds of work that go on at places like HP Labs or Intel Research
begin to cross into these areas. (Or consider places like Interval
Research or XEROX PARC, back in the day.)

Do you *need* a Ph.D. to do your job? That really depends on what your
job is. In academia, you typically need a terminal degree (but often,
on design faculties, that's an MFA). I've got to say that typically,
when someone has a Ph.D. in whatever it is, I'm impressed that they
stuck it out, really researched something deeply, and saw a big piece
of work through.

On May 21, 2004, at 10:57 PM, David Heller wrote:

> I was reading the last part of the Ph.D. thread and well it occurred
> to me
> that people were using "HCI" to mean interaction design. HCI is seldom
> a
> design degree (that's one piece), and it is not equal to Interaction
> Design.
>
> Maybe it is that HCI is a research degree and SHOULD be done the way it
> currently is, but a design degree is more like a professional degree
> and
> should probably be done in a very different department than an HCI
> degree.
>
> I wonder if any of us really need a Ph.D. to do our jobs. I can see a
> higher
> degree in design being very effective for jump starting an education to
> match 5 years or so experience in the field, but if you have that 5
> years,
> is an education really going to ad any more value? Has it just become a
> lithmus test for recruiters? Are we as a society so turned on by
> letters
> after our names?
>
> Anyway, I think my main point in this thread is that maybe we should
> try to
> focus the conversation on what IxD education should be and not HCI.
>
> BTW, I can see that if I was going to head up the usability or ease of
> use
> lab at IBM that I should have a PhD, but if I was going to be working
> on a
> project for IBMs Lotus UI Team, even in a lead position, anything more
> than
> a Masters, seems like overkill and then a masters in what? Design? HCI?
> Media? Anthro? Cog?
>
> -- dave
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

22 May 2004 - 6:23am
zayera at bluewin.ch
2004

Hey Folks,

I have been on this ID-list since a couple of weeks and find the discussions
interesting and entertaining :-)
The current thread of Ph.D versus non-P.D I find amusing, let me tell you
why: even before my university degrees and while studying (bsc from his/se
& ma from k3/se, 2 degrees in separate subjects) my dream and aim was to
one day achieve a Ph.D. It was a typical aim for me and most of my colleagues
who are now more or less finishing up with there Ph.Ds.
In certain academic environments/cities it's like a curse, everyone around
you is obsesssed and 300% engaged in their pursuit of a Ph.D degree.
So for 5 years at least, that was my aim, but when I had to make the choice
of pursuing a Ph.D or starting "working in the real world" I chose the latter.
Today 4 years later, I am happy I did not pursue a Ph.D in interaction design
or any HCI-subject. The Ph.D thing is still an opportunity which I always
will have, but I still have to make the choice of pursuing a degree for
whatever reasons suitable. My non-Ph.D status makes me in no sense less
competitive ;-)

Another thing, that Dave mentioned pointing out the differences in Interaction
design and HCI, I would say definately a difference exist in pursuing a
Ph.D in interaction design, which would be encorporated in the field of
a design subject, where praxis is essential and integrated in the research,
and somehow should be applicable and relevant to current paradigms.
In HCI however one can write a whole thesis about something purely unapplicable
and theoretical, in a sense that the new gained knowledge is relevant but
just not fitting in a a real-world-context.

I think we need to work towards clarifying our roles anyway, before we start
banging on eachothers heads with "titles and labels".

That's all folks,
Zayera
(happy with a Masters in Interaction design, only)

>-- Original-Nachricht --
>From: molly wright steenson <molly at girlwonder.com>
>Subject: Re: Education: why "HCI"? (was RE: [ID Discuss] Ph.D. in HCI)
>Date: Sat, 22 May 2004 10:22:59 +0200
>To: id-discuss Designers' <discuss at interactiondesigners.com>
>Cc:
>
>
>Okay, I'll bite...
>
>I teach at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, a two-year masters
>program in interaction design.
>
>Many of the people who have come to do masters degrees do it in order
>to deepen their skills or change direction a bit. There are people here

>who come from product design and are interested in looking more at
>different types of interactivity. There are web or mobile phone
>producers, designers and architects (interface, user experience,
>information architects...) that want to work in physical computing or
>different interfaces. We have architects who want to work on ubiquitous

>computing. It's really nice to not have to focus on a bottom line or
>justify in business terms what you're doing (in the way you need to do

>working in a corporate setting). This doesn't mean that you ignore
>business, but it's not a limitation.
>
>Ivrea doesn't offer a Ph.D., and not many exist in design (the
>Institute of Design at IIT in Chicago offers one, and there's a Doctor

>of Design offered at Harvard... I don't know about CMU... the
>Politecnico in Milan offers one... and I think other schools do in
>Europe, maybe K3 in Malmö...) I'm sure that I'm seeing a limited view
>of things, and maybe someone can list other Ph.Ds.
>
>Getting a Ph.D. allows for research and depth in a particular area of
>interest that contributes back to the field. Design research is
>something important as well, and produces work that stretches our
>understanding of design and its impact (it could be on ethnographic and

>sociology, or on design process, or new interfaces, or... you name it).

>The kinds of work that go on at places like HP Labs or Intel Research
>begin to cross into these areas. (Or consider places like Interval
>Research or XEROX PARC, back in the day.)
>
>Do you *need* a Ph.D. to do your job? That really depends on what your

>job is. In academia, you typically need a terminal degree (but often,
>on design faculties, that's an MFA). I've got to say that typically,
>when someone has a Ph.D. in whatever it is, I'm impressed that they
>stuck it out, really researched something deeply, and saw a big piece
>of work through.
>
>
>
>On May 21, 2004, at 10:57 PM, David Heller wrote:
>
>> I was reading the last part of the Ph.D. thread and well it occurred

>> to me
>> that people were using "HCI" to mean interaction design. HCI is seldom
>
>> a
>> design degree (that's one piece), and it is not equal to Interaction

>> Design.
>>
>> Maybe it is that HCI is a research degree and SHOULD be done the way
it
>> currently is, but a design degree is more like a professional degree

>> and
>> should probably be done in a very different department than an HCI
>> degree.
>>
>> I wonder if any of us really need a Ph.D. to do our jobs. I can see a

>> higher
>> degree in design being very effective for jump starting an education
to
>> match 5 years or so experience in the field, but if you have that 5
>> years,
>> is an education really going to ad any more value? Has it just become
a
>> lithmus test for recruiters? Are we as a society so turned on by
>> letters
>> after our names?
>>
>> Anyway, I think my main point in this thread is that maybe we should

>> try to
>> focus the conversation on what IxD education should be and not HCI.
>>
>> BTW, I can see that if I was going to head up the usability or ease of
>
>> use
>> lab at IBM that I should have a PhD, but if I was going to be working

>> on a
>> project for IBMs Lotus UI Team, even in a lead position, anything more
>
>> than
>> a Masters, seems like overkill and then a masters in what? Design? HCI?
>> Media? Anthro? Cog?
>>
>> -- dave
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Interaction Design Discussion List
>> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
>> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
>> already)
>> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>> --
>> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>>
>
>
>
>_______________________________________________
>Interaction Design Discussion List
>discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest): http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
>http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>--
>http://interactiondesigners.com/

22 May 2004 - 2:04pm
Shuli Gilutz
2004

Hi everyone,
What a great way to spend Saturday morning - instead of working on my PhD
research - I read my ID emails...
:)
This topic has been very interesting, especially since I've debated this
issue personally a gazillion times. I have both worked in industry and been
in academia... Usually, I get 'tired' of one environment, and return to the
next. When I'm working in industry, and after a while get angry with the
politics, the constant wars with marketing, the crazy deadlines and
compromises - I feel like I want to return to academia, where they only
care about a noble goal - better design, better user experience, harnessing
technology to advance life...
So I do. I 'went back' to get my masters after working in 3 different
web/multimedia companies...
But in academia, after a while, there are different frustrations. Many
professors are so disconnected from 'the real world', that their models,
theories and suggestions seem a waste of time. Not to mention that many
times there is no link between industry and academia, and all these great
idea stay in academic journals and conferences...
I ended up going back to industry, and after a couple of years going back to
academia... Where I am now. However, I chose an applied degree, and continue
to freelance/volunteer any way I can, to stay in touch with reality... :)

I agree with a lot of the comments said here - I do not think advanced
degrees are necessary in our profession, and experience is definitely a huge
asset. However, it really depends on your personal goals, and style. In the
sub-field I'm interested in (currently - HCI & ID for kids' interfaces)
there isn't a lot of knowledge out there, and most of the companies have so
little funding, that user-research is their last priority (as usual...).
Hopefully, I could help advance the field from academia, and after I
graduate... Probably do both.... Again.

Cheers,
Shuli

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of zayera at bluewin.ch
Sent: Saturday, May 22, 2004 7:23 AM
To: id-discuss Designers'
Subject: Re: Education: why "HCI"? (was RE: [ID Discuss] Ph.D. in HCI)

Hey Folks,

I have been on this ID-list since a couple of weeks and find the discussions
interesting and entertaining :-) The current thread of Ph.D versus non-P.D I
find amusing, let me tell you
why: even before my university degrees and while studying (bsc from his/se &
ma from k3/se, 2 degrees in separate subjects) my dream and aim was to one
day achieve a Ph.D. It was a typical aim for me and most of my colleagues
who are now more or less finishing up with there Ph.Ds.
In certain academic environments/cities it's like a curse, everyone around
you is obsesssed and 300% engaged in their pursuit of a Ph.D degree.
So for 5 years at least, that was my aim, but when I had to make the choice
of pursuing a Ph.D or starting "working in the real world" I chose the
latter.
Today 4 years later, I am happy I did not pursue a Ph.D in interaction
design or any HCI-subject. The Ph.D thing is still an opportunity which I
always will have, but I still have to make the choice of pursuing a degree
for whatever reasons suitable. My non-Ph.D status makes me in no sense less
competitive ;-)

Another thing, that Dave mentioned pointing out the differences in
Interaction design and HCI, I would say definately a difference exist in
pursuing a Ph.D in interaction design, which would be encorporated in the
field of a design subject, where praxis is essential and integrated in the
research, and somehow should be applicable and relevant to current
paradigms.
In HCI however one can write a whole thesis about something purely
unapplicable and theoretical, in a sense that the new gained knowledge is
relevant but just not fitting in a a real-world-context.

I think we need to work towards clarifying our roles anyway, before we start
banging on eachothers heads with "titles and labels".

That's all folks,
Zayera
(happy with a Masters in Interaction design, only)

>-- Original-Nachricht --
>From: molly wright steenson <molly at girlwonder.com>
>Subject: Re: Education: why "HCI"? (was RE: [ID Discuss] Ph.D. in HCI)
>Date: Sat, 22 May 2004 10:22:59 +0200
>To: id-discuss Designers' <discuss at interactiondesigners.com>
>Cc:
>
>
>Okay, I'll bite...
>
>I teach at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, a two-year masters
>program in interaction design.
>
>Many of the people who have come to do masters degrees do it in order
>to deepen their skills or change direction a bit. There are people here

>who come from product design and are interested in looking more at
>different types of interactivity. There are web or mobile phone
>producers, designers and architects (interface, user experience,
>information architects...) that want to work in physical computing or
>different interfaces. We have architects who want to work on ubiquitous

>computing. It's really nice to not have to focus on a bottom line or
>justify in business terms what you're doing (in the way you need to do

>working in a corporate setting). This doesn't mean that you ignore
>business, but it's not a limitation.
>
>Ivrea doesn't offer a Ph.D., and not many exist in design (the
>Institute of Design at IIT in Chicago offers one, and there's a Doctor

>of Design offered at Harvard... I don't know about CMU... the
>Politecnico in Milan offers one... and I think other schools do in
>Europe, maybe K3 in Malmö...) I'm sure that I'm seeing a limited view
>of things, and maybe someone can list other Ph.Ds.
>
>Getting a Ph.D. allows for research and depth in a particular area of
>interest that contributes back to the field. Design research is
>something important as well, and produces work that stretches our
>understanding of design and its impact (it could be on ethnographic and

>sociology, or on design process, or new interfaces, or... you name it).

>The kinds of work that go on at places like HP Labs or Intel Research
>begin to cross into these areas. (Or consider places like Interval
>Research or XEROX PARC, back in the day.)
>
>Do you *need* a Ph.D. to do your job? That really depends on what your

>job is. In academia, you typically need a terminal degree (but often,
>on design faculties, that's an MFA). I've got to say that typically,
>when someone has a Ph.D. in whatever it is, I'm impressed that they
>stuck it out, really researched something deeply, and saw a big piece
>of work through.
>
>
>
>On May 21, 2004, at 10:57 PM, David Heller wrote:
>
>> I was reading the last part of the Ph.D. thread and well it occurred

>> to me
>> that people were using "HCI" to mean interaction design. HCI is
>> seldom
>
>> a
>> design degree (that's one piece), and it is not equal to Interaction

>> Design.
>>
>> Maybe it is that HCI is a research degree and SHOULD be done the way
it
>> currently is, but a design degree is more like a professional degree

>> and
>> should probably be done in a very different department than an HCI
>> degree.
>>
>> I wonder if any of us really need a Ph.D. to do our jobs. I can see a

>> higher
>> degree in design being very effective for jump starting an education
to
>> match 5 years or so experience in the field, but if you have that 5
>> years, is an education really going to ad any more value? Has it just
>> become
a
>> lithmus test for recruiters? Are we as a society so turned on by
>> letters after our names?
>>
>> Anyway, I think my main point in this thread is that maybe we should

>> try to
>> focus the conversation on what IxD education should be and not HCI.
>>
>> BTW, I can see that if I was going to head up the usability or ease
>> of
>
>> use
>> lab at IBM that I should have a PhD, but if I was going to be working

>> on a
>> project for IBMs Lotus UI Team, even in a lead position, anything
>> more
>
>> than
>> a Masters, seems like overkill and then a masters in what? Design? HCI?
>> Media? Anthro? Cog?
>>
>> -- dave
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Interaction Design Discussion List
>> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
>> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
>> already)
>> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>> --
>> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>>
>
>
>
>_______________________________________________
>Interaction Design Discussion List
>discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
>http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>--
>Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
>already) http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>--
>http://interactiondesigners.com/

_______________________________________________
Interaction Design Discussion List
discuss at interactiondesigners.com
--
to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
--
Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
--
Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
--
http://interactiondesigners.com/

23 May 2004 - 7:37pm
CD Evans
2004

I'm in this position: I did 7-8 years in the field then went
'back-to-school' and got an MA in design for interaction, and now I'm
thinking to do a phd. I'm not wanting to improve my ability to
research, though that will be nice, and I'm not wanting extra cred,
though that's interesting as well. The real reason I wish to do a
higher level research degree is because I found an area of interest and
I'd like to 'navigate through it'.

It's not to get clarity for the sake of business logic when I'm 45, or
the ability to predict the future. It's pure interest. I want to think
about some stuff and I want to keep thinking about it until it makes
sense. It's won't be aimed at achieving any advantage whatsoever, just
plain and simple interest in a topic that keeps me thinking.

I wish I had been motivated to do my own work years ago, but I guess
it's all timing. Anyhow, my point is that it's not the results of the
research that we should be thinking about, it's why it's done.

Wish me luck eh
CD evans

> Another thing, that Dave mentioned pointing out the differences in
> Interaction design and HCI, I would say definately a difference exist
> in
> pursuing a Ph.D in interaction design, which would be encorporated in
> the
> field of a design subject, where praxis is essential and integrated in
> the
> research, and somehow should be applicable and relevant to current
> paradigms.
> In HCI however one can write a whole thesis about something purely
> unapplicable and theoretical, in a sense that the new gained knowledge
> is
> relevant but just not fitting in a a real-world-context.
>
> I think we need to work towards clarifying our roles anyway, before we
> start
> banging on eachothers heads with "titles and labels".
>
> That's all folks,
> Zayera
> (happy with a Masters in Interaction design, only)
>
>
>
>
>> -- Original-Nachricht --
>> From: molly wright steenson <molly at girlwonder.com>
>> Getting a Ph.D. allows for research and depth in a particular area of
>> interest that contributes back to the field. Design research is
>> something important as well, and produces work that stretches our
>> understanding of design and its impact (it could be on ethnographic
>> and
>
>> sociology, or on design process, or new interfaces, or... you name
>> it).
>
>> The kinds of work that go on at places like HP Labs or Intel Research
>> begin to cross into these areas. (Or consider places like Interval
>> Research or XEROX PARC, back in the day.)
>>
>> Do you *need* a Ph.D. to do your job? That really depends on what your
>
>> job is. In academia, you typically need a terminal degree (but often,
>> on design faculties, that's an MFA). I've got to say that typically,
>> when someone has a Ph.D. in whatever it is, I'm impressed that they
>> stuck it out, really researched something deeply, and saw a big piece
>> of work through.
>>
>>
>>
>> On May 21, 2004, at 10:57 PM, David Heller wrote:
>>
>>> I was reading the last part of the Ph.D. thread and well it occurred
>
>>> to me
>>> that people were using "HCI" to mean interaction design. HCI is
>>> seldom
>>
>>> a
>>> design degree (that's one piece), and it is not equal to Interaction
>
>>> Design.
>>>
>>> Maybe it is that HCI is a research degree and SHOULD be done the way
> it
>>> currently is, but a design degree is more like a professional degree
>
>>> and
>>> should probably be done in a very different department than an HCI
>>> degree.
>>>
>>> I wonder if any of us really need a Ph.D. to do our jobs. I can see a
>
>>> higher
>>> degree in design being very effective for jump starting an education
> to
>>> match 5 years or so experience in the field, but if you have that 5
>>> years, is an education really going to ad any more value? Has it just
>>> become
> a
>>> lithmus test for recruiters? Are we as a society so turned on by
>>> letters after our names?

23 May 2004 - 8:24pm
id at ourbrisba...
2004

Quoting David Heller <dave at interactiondesigners.com>:
> I was reading the last part of the Ph.D. thread and well it occurred to me
> that people were using "HCI" to mean interaction design. HCI is seldom a
> design degree (that's one piece), and it is not equal to Interaction Design.

I can empathise.

David's pointed out that people are speaking of HCI as if it was IxD. I've
recently pointed out that people on this list were speaking of Human Factors as
if it were HCI. These are very different things. As we've discussed, IxD and
Human Factors work at a higher level of abstraction to HCI, taking into account
such factors as biomechanics; the physical, political, organisational and team
environment; the physical, auditory and visual aesthetics and the resultant
affect; motivations, goals, cognitive and behavioural variances of the targeted
users; etc...

It's a bit of a circular argument, but this all gets back to the perceived
'overlap of disciplines' (IA = UED = IxD = HCI = HF). Due to the explosion in
the 'human-centred design' industry (or more pointedly, 'discount usability')
and the resulting lack of understanding of what already exists, people tend to
equate disparate areas of specialisation with each other.

Even thouigh it can be at times frustrating, it's also interesting to watch the
industry struggle through it's 'growing pains'.

Best regards,

Ash Donaldson
User Experience Designer
"It depends."

23 May 2004 - 10:33pm
Nick Ragouzis
2004

Good discussion. This CD Evans-Zayera-Molly-Dave
thread (below) just about captures the
questions/issues for me:

* It must be enthusiasm (to contribute, or to extend
one's understanding in an area of interest) that
drives one to a PhD in applied domains. The only
generalization of return to the individual is that
likely return will come in that currency.

The potential for *additional* returns are
case-specific. Unfortunately these options face
rapid devaluation to a practice-wide norm. This is
accelerated in an applied domain that is open to
inexpensive, rapid, low-risk experimentation: this
year's advanced application is next year's
automated application, and the following year's
old news.

* In applied domains, specific enthusiasm in some
(any!) area follows broad core competency as the
top two keys to job searches and advancement in
senior posts. Although it may be a good fourth,
or third, elevate advanced education credentials
into this pair at your (initial or ultimate)
disappointment (whether as holder or employer).

I suspect experience in such disappointment,
largely through mismatch of expectations, is one
important reason why the PhD is so often *not* the
key qualification, either in postings or
applications. Apart from research posts, no
organization wants to elevate expectations that
might carry over into day-to-day, year-to-year
effects. They are especially sensitive and wary
where it comes to the question of leadership.

* Interaction design is an applied domain. As with
many other applied practices in this space ID
*concerns* itself with the questions and findings of
research into the challenges of human-computer
interaction, among other. But HCI advancement is a
side effect of interaction design, *not* *its*
*purpose*; HCI advancement is not ID's domain of
command, responsibility or majority influence.

This is part of the reason why core research is
for decades largely untapped in the applied domain.
(That is, why advanced *applications* are so
rapidly devalued; they (over) operate on the very
thin top layer of this fertile soil, with very
little to distinguish them.)

* Because ID is in its infancy, and knows very
little of its distinctive contribution nor of its
actual basis for advancement, the applied domain
will likely expand its search for those people
having demonstrated the ability to make new findings
*and* translate new findings (individually; leading
teams) into competitive advantage. In demonstrating
these abilities, order does not matter. Even beyond
the kind of organizations that Molly correctly
points to ... to include organizations (large &
small) that are challenged in competing with these
organizations (small & large).

This imperative (to compete against wild
strain/uncultivated innovation) is the root of the
"design age" we popularly like to think we are in
... and why it mostly will occur on the cheap
except in specific, narrow, highly-leveraged
applied innovations. That is, not in general
design methodology (no matter how researched or
'proven'), or along the lines of so-called
established practice domains, or in/from minor
applied advancements (we love 'em, extol them;
organizations think they're more of the usual and
just as unlikely to be sustainable competitive
differentiators).

Consequently, individuals with advanced work
credentials may find exceedingly great competitive
advantage in their ability to rapidly parse and
discern value, and to clearly communicate the
distinctions and road to application.

* Because of *this* (all above) it largely doesn't
matter where (HCI, Design) your advanced work is
done. Assuming as we are that you are not moving
to the research domain, I suspect you'll get the
*best* benefit by doing the advanced work inside
an organization (an enterprise/business org) that
supports and respects published results and the
collaboration this requires.

This would seem to be the kind of organization
that PhD holders would appreciate going forward
too, so it may be worthwhile FIRST, beforehand, to
seek out these organizations, and do a bit of what
CD Evans points to -- get motivated to do your own
work even now.

* And much work is needed. There are paradigm-breaking
findings already available. And almost weekly this
list and other related lists fiddle with topics
that are directly relevant, but without a sense
that bigger increments of change are potent.

Sure, this is a lot more work ... but if you're
inclined to the academic route, and the huge
amount of work that takes if you've also got a
family to support and a profession to stay tied
to, then making such advancements while working
will be but a slight taste of the challenges.

And there are forums ready to hear, publish, and
appreciate (and challenge and discount!) your
results. If you've at all a stomach for it.

But you can take satisfaction that only this
approach, advanced work in an enterprise, whether
before or after having a PhD, holds the promise
of rapidly advancing the ID field.

> Wish me luck eh
> CD evans

Good luck, CD.

Best,
--Nick

CD Evans wrote:
>
> I'm in this position: I did 7-8 years in the field then
> went 'back-to-school' and got an MA in design for
> interaction, and now I'm thinking to do a phd. I'm not
> wanting to improve my ability to research, though that
> will be nice, and I'm not wanting extra cred, though
> that's interesting as well. The real reason I wish to do
> a higher level research degree is because I found an
> area of interest and I'd like to 'navigate through it'.
>
> It's not to get clarity for the sake of business logic
> when I'm 45, or the ability to predict the future. It's
> pure interest. I want to think about some stuff and I
> want to keep thinking about it until it makes
> sense. It's won't be aimed at achieving any advantage
> whatsoever, just plain and simple interest in a topic
> that keeps me thinking.
>
> I wish I had been motivated to do my own work years ago,
> but I guess it's all timing. Anyhow, my point is that
> it's not the results of the research that we should be
> thinking about, it's why it's done.
>
> Wish me luck eh
> CD evans
>
> zayera at bluewin.ch wrote:
> >
> > Another thing, that Dave mentioned pointing out the
> > differences in Interaction design and HCI, I would say
> > definately a difference exist in pursuing a Ph.D in
> > interaction design, which would be encorporated in the
> > field of a design subject, where praxis is essential
> > and integrated in the research, and somehow should be
> > applicable and relevant to current paradigms. In HCI
> > however one can write a whole thesis about something
> > purely unapplicable and theoretical, in a sense that
> > the new gained knowledge is relevant but just not
> > fitting in a a real-world-context.
> >
> > I think we need to work towards clarifying our roles
> > anyway, before we start banging on each others heads
> > with "titles and labels".
> >
> > That's all folks,
> > Zayera
> > (happy with a Masters in Interaction design, only)
> >
> >> -- Original-Nachricht --
> >> From: molly wright steenson <molly at girlwonder.com>
> >>
> >> Getting a Ph.D. allows for research and depth in a
> >> particular area of interest that contributes back to
> >> the field. Design research is something important as
> >> well, and produces work that stretches our
> >> understanding of design and its impact (it could be
> >> on ethnographic and sociology, or on design process,
> >> or new interfaces, or... you name it).
> >>
> >> The kinds of work that go on at places like HP Labs
> >> or Intel Research begin to cross into these
> >> areas. (Or consider places like Interval Research or
> >> XEROX PARC, back in the day.)
> >>
> >> Do you *need* a Ph.D. to do your job? That really
> >> depends on what your job is. In academia, you
> >> typically need a terminal degree (but often, on
> >> design faculties, that's an MFA). I've got to say
> >> that typically, when someone has a Ph.D. in whatever
> >> it is, I'm impressed that they stuck it out, really
> >> researched something deeply, and saw a big piece of
> >> work through.
> >>
> >> On May 21, 2004, at 10:57 PM, David Heller wrote:
> >>
> >>> I was reading the last part of the Ph.D. thread and
> >>> well it occurred to me that people were using "HCI"
> >>> to mean interaction design. HCI is seldom a design
> >>> degree (that's one piece), and it is not equal to
> >>> Interaction Design.
> >>>
> >>> Maybe it is that HCI is a research degree and SHOULD
> >>> be done the way it currently is, but a design degree
> >>> is more like a professional degree and should
> >>> probably be done in a very different department than
> >>> an HCI degree.
> >>>
> >>> I wonder if any of us really need a Ph.D. to do our
> >>> jobs. I can see a higher degree in design being
> >>> very effective for jump starting an education to
> >>> match 5 years or so experience in the field, but if
> >>> you have that 5 years, is an education really going
> >>> to ad any more value? Has it just become a lithmus
> >>> test for recruiters? Are we as a society so turned
> >>> on by letters after our names?

24 May 2004 - 5:00pm
hans samuelson
2003

A quick note to those following this thread: if you are not already
familiar with the PhD-Design list (archived at
http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/archives/phd-design.html) you might enjoy it.
It's entirely oriented to big-D Design (as opposed to Human Factors or
HCI), reasonably theoretical, and quite lively.

Hans Samuelson

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