Being Human

Being Human



Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020

The field of Human-Computer Interaction has moved on and matured in many significant ways over the past three decades. From Card, Moran and Newell’s early work in defining the field through to Weiser’s vision of ubiquitous computing, one can point to a handful of books and thought-pieces that have defined new and compelling research agendas.  As we move further the 21st century, a new change is afoot: a change that puts more emphasis on placing users –people—front and centre in that agenda; a change that is less about pervasive, “smart” computing and more about technology that enables and recognizes human values.

This new agenda raises all kinds of key questions: What is the role of technology in the 21st century, or what would we like it to be?  How as researchers, designers and practitioners should we orient to this role?  What are the key questions for Human-Computer Interaction as we move forward? What are the new paradigms and research goals that emerge as a result?  What are the human values we are designing for, and what does this mean for the evaluation of technology?

Computer technologies are not neutral – they are laden with human, cultural and social values.  We need to define a new agenda for human-computer interaction in the 21st century – one that anticipates and shapes the impact of technology rather than simply reacts to it.

In March, 2007, a forum entitled HCI 2020: Human Values in a Digital Age, was held in Sanlúcar la Mayor, Spain, just outside Seville. Its purpose was to gather luminaries in computing, design, social sciences, and scientific philosophy to discuss, debate and help formulate an agenda for human-computer interaction (HCI) over the next decade and beyond.

The event—facilitated by Microsoft and convened by Richard Harper and Abigail Sellen of Microsoft Research CambridgeTom Rodden of Nottingham University, and Yvonne Rogers of the Open University—resulted in a detailed report, released April 2 2008, called Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020.

This report is for anyone interested in the ramifications of our digital future and in ways society must adjust to the technological changes to come.  It is also for those of us who work in the field of Human-Computer Interaction and who are concerned that our research agenda stays relevant in the years to come.