A newly minted Fellow of the ACM

Dray Elected ACM Fellow

The Association for Computing Machinery – an organization with 100,000 members worldwide and a rather gangly name – announced this year’s Fellows. And I’m one of them!

As a practitioner, I never thought I could even be considered for this enormous honor and, as a friend noted, there aren’t a lot of Fellows who are practitioners. I’ll have to look at the list again, but I think I’m the only one in HCI.

This honor has made me nostalgic because the things it celebrates are no longer fresh memories. They were things – like participating in the founding of SIGCHI in 1982, being the 5th consultant in HCI back in 1993, doing the first large international ethnographic study to guide product development in 1994, designing HP’s first digital camera at a time when these were a brand new animal in a point-and-shoot world and then testing the design internationally and so on….things in a distant past when the profession was young (and so was I). Our mission – and it truly felt like a mission – was to make technology that would work for people, be intuitive so discovery (and training where necessary) would be easy – and even fun. I guess that’s still my mission today.

Today, the way I am “working my mission” is through projects being done for profession more broadly as well as mentoring specific talented young people, including many women, both in the US, where they are mostly women of color, and also internationally, again concentrating on women in the so-called “Global South.” In a sense, this macro and micro level work is woven together by helping create capacity for community- and profession-building that, in turn, helps make all products more “intuitive.”

I am thrilled and honored to be named a Fellow – and deeply humbled by the rarified group of folks in this category, a rather intimidating lot.  As I look ahead at my joint goals of regional capacity building AND individual mentoring, I am excited to be heading into a new future where we are bound to listen more to other cultures in the so-called “.Global South” as these communities emerge and grow.  I am convinced we will find many ways to work together and to learn from each other.  This was my goal before I got this news and it remains so to this day.



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Inside the UX Studio

In 2015, I was awarded the SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement in Practice Award, and went to Seoul to present a session-long talk which is described and linked to below.

I was pleasantly surprised, then, in 2016, to be awarded the UXPA UX Lifetime Achievement Award.  Being recognized by both organizations, the academic one (SIGCHI) and the practitioner one (UXPA) feels wonderful.

At the conference, Chris Hass, a former president of UXPA under whom I had the pleasure of serving as Director of Publications, interviewed me in a lovely, informal manner.  (Terry Gross, watch out!) and I had a great time doing it (despite a horrible cough)

Here is the link to it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMO_zHjakho

In case you are interested in seeing the Original Dr. Dray at work doing a wrap-up of the key things we need to do in the form of a rap (of course) with the UXPA Board as backup dancers! 

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In November 2016 in Nairobi, I presented the closing Keynote at the first-ever all-Africa HCI conference, AfriCHI.  Here is an annotated slide set.

AfriCHI keynote to post

I particularly like this talk because it links together who we are in terms of values with what we do and then gives an example of what I mean for each.  There are certainly other things that we do and other values that we share but these are the ones I have found, time and again, to be the ones that seem to be at my core.

Here’s an excerpt of the final summary-review – the “Rap-up”

The words are here Rap for AfriCHI

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Encounters with HCI Pioneers

Ben Shneiderman recently launched a new website, The Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Pioneers Project, which draws attention to the trail-blazers by describing their backgrounds and contributions. I am deeply honored to be included.

And today, New York Times reporter Steve Lohr did this nice feature in the NY Times…celebrating HCI;  Humanizing Technology: A History of Human-Computer Interaction

with the link to the HCI Pioneers website.


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Challenges at the Bottom of the Pyramid: An Ethnographic Study of South African Mobile Users

Here are the slides from my Case Study at CHI 2014 in Toronto.

Dray Case Study CHI 2014 to post

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Article Archive

Here are links to a few of my talks, presentations and articles to augment those posted here.  If there are any you would like more information on, or other articles I’ve written that you would like copies of, please let me know.

Dray, S. (2014) Corazones en tus pies: Diseño centrado en el usuario para el desarrollo social (Hearts on Your Feet: Human Centered Design in Development) Keynote at MexIHC, Oaxaca, Mexico, November, 2014 (presented in Spanish)

Dray, S. (2014) Hearts on Your Feet- Human-Centered Design For Development Presented at Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, October, 2014.

Siegel, D., Sorin, A., Thompson, M., & Dray, S. (2013) Fine-tuning user research to drive innovation. Interactions, 20[5], September-October

Dray, S. (2014) Challenges at the Bottom of the Pyramid: An Ethnographic Study of South African Mobile Phone Users. Case Study presented at CHI 2014, Toronto, Canada, April, 2014.

Dray, S. (2014) Questioning assumptions: UX Research That Really Matters. Interactions, 21[2], March-April.

Dray, S. (2013) What the world can learn from Africa (and what Africa can learn from the world)Keynote at INTERACT 2013, Cape Town, September, 2013. Also presented at the iHub, Nairobi, Kenya

Dray, S. (2013) Change the World! Expand our Reach! Human-Centered Design for Development. Presented at UXPA 2013, Washington, DC.

Siegel, D. & Dray, S. (2011) A Professional Empiricist Manifesto. Interactions, 18 [4], July-August.

Dray, S. (2011) Risky business: Making User-Centered Design a strategic part of business. Invited talk presented to UPA China, September.

Dray, S. (2011) You’ve only got an hour! Now DO something!”: Gaining leverage when resources are limited. Presented at UXPA 2011, Washington, DC.

Dray, S.  (2009) Engaged scholars, thoughtful practitioners:  The interdependence of academics and practitioners in user-centered design and usability. Journal of Usability Studies, 5(1), 1 – 7.

Flynn, D., Lovejoy, T., Siegel, D., & Dray, S. (2009) “Name that segment!”: Questioning the unquestioned authority of numbers.  Paper presented at EPIC 2009 (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference), Chicago, IL.

Siegel, D. and Dray, S. (2007) Contextual User Research for International Software Design. Presented at Human Computer Interaction International (HCII 2007) conference in Beijing, China.

Siegel, D., Reid, B., and Dray, S. (2006) IT security: Protecting organizations in spite of themselvesInteractions, Special issue on security, 13[3], May-June.

Siegel, D. & Dray, S. (2005) Avoiding the Next Schism – Ethnography and UsabilityInteractions, 12[2], March-April.

Dray, S., Siegel, D & Kotze, P. (2003) Indra’s Net: HCI in the Developing World Editors’ introduction to special issue of Interactions, 10[2], March-April. (Also co-edited the issue)

Frohlich, D., Dray, S. & Silverman, A. (2001) Breaking up is hard to do: Family perspectives on the future of the home PC. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 54[5], May, 701-724.

There are certainly many more articles, presentations, etc.   For more information, my CV is here (CV Susan Dray 3-17-17).  If you’re interested in any of them, please let me know.

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Building Bridges, Not Walls: The Interdependence of Academics and Practitioners in Human-Computer Interaction

Here are the slides and notes from my recent talk at CHI2015.  The talk, for the Lifetime Achievement in Practice Award, was entitled “Building Bridges, Not Walls:  The Interdependence of Academics and Practitioners in Human-Computer Interaction”

FINAL NOTES to send Building Bridges Not Walls – CHI 2015- DRAY

And here is a link to the actual presentation at CHI 2015 in Seoul, S. Korea.


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Building Bridges: Specific Things We Can Do

In my talk at CHI 2015 in Seoul, I addressed the wall between academics and practitioners and offered both some of the reasons this wall exists and how we can build bridges instead.  Here are the slides with the specifics.

Academics can:

  • Offer practical evening or weekend classes/training aimed at practitioners
  • Sponsor Industry-wide competitions
  • Help practitioners build visibility for HCI, usability
  • Develop leadership skills and use them in collaborative leadership with practitioners
  • Write for practitioner-oriented publications showing the relevance of academic research
  • Create research institutes aimed at addressing practical and applied problems
  • Be inclusive in reaching out to practitioners
  • Publish work with practitioners in practitioner-friendly journals (JUS, BIT, IwC)

Practitioners can:

  • Find placements for interns and students in your department or company
  • Help determine research agendas by discussing what research would be relevant and useful to you
  • Teach students about world of practice
  • Seek help with “messy” problems (and listen to it!)
  • Model how to work on challenging interdisciplinary teams
  • Work to influence people outside of HCI in your company about the value of working with Academics
  • Mentor students
  • Help find corporate sponsors for academic projects
  • Work on projects together
  • Write articles together for internal publications
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