Amar Sagoo

14 March 2007


When I spent three months at Microsoft Research last year, I came across a lot of fascinating work related to interaction design. Colleagues would talk about their projects, people would report back from conferences, visitors came in to present their work, and I found things during literature reviews. Some of the designs I saw and read about were so cool that I couldn't believe they weren't more well known. Even my friends and I, who were supposed to be into design and human-computer interaction, hadn't heard about them. There was an obvious problem here.

I think the reason for this lack of dissemination is that the main way for researchers to make their ideas known is through conferences, journal articles and coffee-break chats. All three of these channels have only other researchers at the receiving end.

Most of the published literature is available online, but very often not free of charge. Researchers usually have access to relevant digital libraries through their employers, but designers and other potentially interested people are unlikely to be willing to pay.

Of course, many papers are available for free. However, a further barrier is that the format and language of scientific papers is not what non-researchers would consider an easy and engaging read. Given this "language barrier", as well as the prerequisite knowledge required for a lot of the material, you won't find many people casually reading the latest CHI conference proceedings on the train or flipping through a 20-page research study during their lunch break.

There is one web site which has addressed this same problem, albeit not for interaction design-related research. Ars Technica's Nobel Intent journal supplies those who have a casual interest in science with digests of interesting studies. These are written in a fairly casual style, usually include any necessary background knowledge, and only take a few minutes to read.

It didn't take much ingenuity to realise that such a model may be exactly what is needed to break the barrier that I had witnessed in human-computer interaction research. I got a few friends from university to join me in the effort to get something rolling. Well, after a few months of planning, designing, building and writing, the result is finally here:

I sincerely hope you find it interesting and that it will help get many more people excited about the work that's going on out there.

If you have any questions about the concept or design of the site, you can comment here or email me.