Genevieve Bell @ CHI 2010

What three days at CHI 2010! Genevieve Bell opened the conference with a provocative yet humorous and carefully-articulated keynote speech on the future of human-computer interaction. I have been presented with 300+ papers so far (at 25 seconds apiece) at CHI Madness in the mornings, played games on augmented reality, and enjoyed the hospitality reception at the Georgia Aquarium tonight. Tomorrow, I am looking forward to learning about useful chart junks before a packed travel schedule takes me back to California before midnight.

What the future holds

Anthropologist by training from the age of five, Genevieve Bell is an Intel Fellow in charge of Digital Home and User Experience. She pointed out the diversity of “real consumers” of computing technologies and the implications for Human-Computer Interaction research in her keynote speech.

Her wild if not rude Australian personality (and ascent) shone through the talk. She was provocative — not only in her language but in her thinking as well. Only in a nice society like Canada, she joked, can you gather three generations together and happily watch TV together. In the rest of the world, demographics is changing, the internet is being reconfigured, and the shifting boundaries of personal information are creating anxiety. What are HCI researchers doing (or not doing)?

    Religion is the single most important thing to the majority of people in the world. Learn how technologies affect religions, and how religions adopt to technologies.

    Government and politics matter. Make a blog. Create a facebook fan page. Bring together the government and its citizens, and see what happens.

    Sex and pornography. Internet didn’t create pornography. People were already doing it with Polariods way back then. The proliferation of pornography on the internet, however, changes how people view their self images, intimacy, and relationships. Study it.

    Sports. Who buys high-definition TV and for what? The answer: sporting fans and to watch their favorite sports. As the Australians call it, not to study cricket is a social crime!

    Off with the Internet. If the Internet is so wonderful, why do people want off-time and disconnect themselves? Understand the limits of where technology belongs.

    Gender. If you’re not yet convinced, just take look at iPhone Apps: PMS Buddy for men and iPeriod for women. Can men and women think any more differently?

With that, the conference began with a thought-provoking keynote speech and six bold directions for the future of HCI research.