Designing Interactions

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Terry Winograd

Terry Winograd is interviewed in Chapter 7 – The Internet. He advised the founders of Google at Stanford. You can get a simple overview of interaction design by reading the interviews with Terry, David Liddle (about the adoption of technology), and Bill Verplank.

Terry Winograd is a professor of computer science at Stanford University, where he has developed an innovative program in software design, with a focus on human-computer interaction design (HCI). His BA was in mathematics in 1966 and his PhD in applied mathematics at MIT. He went on to teach and study in the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT before moving to Stanford in 1973. He consulted with Xerox PARC with the goal of getting computers to understand natural language but became frustrated with the slow progress in the field. “A reason to have computers understand natural language is that it’s an extremely effective way of communicating. What I came to realize is that the success of the communication depends on the real intelligence on the part of the listener, and that there are many other ways of communicating with a computer that can be more effective, given that it doesn’t have the intelligence. At that point, I shifted my view away from what would be thought of as artificial intelligence to the broader question, ‘How do you want to interact with a computer?’ Then I got interested in what makes interactions with computers work well or fail and what makes them fluent. That’s been the direction of my work.” His most recent book is Bringing Design to Software.

Terry says that there are three main ways that we interact with the world in general; conversation, manipulation and locomotion. In the design of computers, the early time-share machines were thought of as conversational, the desktop and mouse introduced direct manipulation, but for the web people started to think about locomotion, about visiting a site by going to it.

Terry in his office at Stanford. Photo Craig Syverson