Home again, home again, jiggety jig

Although I’m no longer doing client projects on a regular basis, I am doing quite a lot of work for professional groups including both ACM SIGCHI (Special Interest Group in Computer-Human Interaction) and the Fulbright Association, and my days feel as full as ever.

This past week has been spent in Denver at CHI2017 which was, as always, a great chance to catch up with friends and learn about so many things.  This time, I learned about the impacts of concussions and using a walking boot, as well as the expected HCI/UX.

Our cab coming into Denver from the airport was hit at high speed and my friend, Sara Drenner, and I were both injured – though not visually.  Not just stiff necks and aches throughout, but also, in my case, a serious concussion.  Later, we found out that Sara also had a serious concussion.  We went to Urgent Care as soon as we got into town where they checked us out, and declared us fit to attend the conference, as long as we tried to “just take it easy”.

That was a real challenge – it was, after all, the week of the CHI conference – the one time during the year when I network and catch up and present our work.  Plus I was responsivle for 3 things:  the weekend’sSymposium on HCI Across Borders, my CHI Story about the Birth of SIGCHI, and the first and only “Remix” session.

Luckily, the amazing team, the Dream Team, that did the planning for the Symposium on HCI Across Borders (which I will cover separately) was fabulous and managed most all of the the 2 days, with me popping up from time to time, but otherwise “taking it easy” by just passively watching and listening.  By Sunday afternoon, however, I was finding it harder and harder to be in the brightly lit room or to follow closely what was happening.  I ended the Symposium with a “charge” to the attendees, encouraging them to continue to network amongst themselves, and to do the great research they had presented, telling them, “You are the future!”  It was a bit less impactful than I would have liked it to be since by then, I was slurring my words, being confused, and having a massive headache.

I was hoping these would go away with a good night’s rest, but nope – on Monday morning I was significantly more confused and emotionally labile, and word finding was getting much, much harder.  So I went to the ER to have a CT to check for a brain bleed as directed by the Urgent Care doctor.  Amazingly, this is was a smooth and speedy process. Presbyterian Hospital Denver whisked us in and within 15 minutes, I was having a CT! The doctor came immediately and we were out in about an hour!  Incredible!  Unfortunately, I was ordered to avoid screens to “not think” and to sleep all week.  That proved to be very difficult, but I did this as much as I could.  However, as you can imagine, it really ruined CHI for me.  As a result, the only technical things I attended were mine – the Symposium, CHI Stories and Remix (more on these later) and Ben Shneiderman’s Keynote (plus bits of the other 2 keynotes) and a celebration of Scooter Morris that I had co-arranged with Matt Jones, and where I played my role of The Original Dr. Dray (yo!) to give Scooter gag gifts.

What struck me despite my brief attendance, was the amazing outpouring of love!  Knowing my CHI friends, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, but it was really incredible.  People helped carry things, arrange things, cover for things, and even get me a scooter so I could get around a vast space without too much stress and fatigue.  This was such a heartwarming experience.  I wish I had had a magic bag so I could collect it all to bring out on sad days.

My last morning, I attended the EC meeting, although I was pretty much unable to follow what was going on, and didn’t contribute anything.

I will be heading home late this afternoon, and can’t wait for the jiggity-jig!

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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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