Portrait of Bill Buxton

Bill Buxton

Partner Researcher

About

For over 40 years – as designer, musician, lecturer, writer, teacher, critic and researcher – Bill has been obsessed with the evolving human-technology dance.  From the creative disciplines of music, his focus has evolved to the broader stage upon which this dance takes place.  A practicing skeptimist, he is a devotee of Melvin Kranzberg’s first law:  “Technology is neither good nor bad;  nor is it neutral. It will be some combination of the two.”  Thus, he is driven by a pursuit of “informed design”, without which he believes the bias will most likely lean towards the bad rather than the good.

Buxton earned his Bachelor of Music degree at Queen’s University, then studied and taught for two years at the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht, Holland. Designing his own digital musical instruments led him to the University of Toronto, where he completed an MSc in Computer Science, and subsequently jointed the faculty. It is also the path that brought him into the field of human-computer interaction, which is his technical area of specialty.

From 1987-89, Buxton was in Cambridge England, helping establish a new satellite of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (EuroPARC). From 1989-94 he split his time between Toronto, where he was Scientific Director of the Ontario Telepresence Project, and Palo Alto, California, where he was a consulting researcher at Xerox PARC.

From 1994 until December 2002, he was Chief Scientist of Alias|Wavefront, (now part of Autodesk) and from 1995, its parent company SGI Inc. In the fall of 2004, he became a part-time instructor in the Department of Industrial Design at the Ontario College of Art and Design. In 2004/05 he was also Visiting Professor at the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) at the University of Toronto.