Social navigation and un-orthodox views on usability

Kristina Höök, SICS

While we have made a lot of progress in how users should communicate with computers through adopting the view that the computer is a tool, the world is now changing and the tool-view is not always appropriate. Sometimes the computer will be more of a social actor with which we communicate. Sometimes we communicate through it. Sometimes it is a whole world that we enter and play within. Researchers are now turning to other sources of inspiration for design, such as architecture, art, television, movie production, etc. In my work, I have used the concept of social navigation as an inspiration source for design. In the real world, we navigate through talking to people, following crowds of people, seeing the traces of where people have walked before us (paths, signs, etc), or seeing that a particular object has been much used. Through seeing others we understand the norms for how we can and should behave.

Designing from this perspective changes the overall design approach. Instead of designing e.g. a dead space with efficient search tools, we design the space to be full of people or traces of people.

But designing from the perspective of social navigation or with inspiration from architecture, film production, arts, etc., will also require a new model for evaluations. While the HCI field used to be occupied with issues like task completion time and how many errors users make, we now have to consider issues like whether users are having fun, whether they experience a sense of flow, or feel anxious and lost.I will talk about new hybrid designs and new approaches to evaluation of those that we have worked with in my group.