Marchionini, G., & Komllodi, A. (1998). Design of interfaces for information seeking. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST), 21, 89-130.
In this chapter Marchionini and Komlodi examine the state of user interfaces for information seeking. Interfaces are defined as the conjunctions and boundaries where different physical and conceptual human constructs meet, and is at the center of information science in fields such as human-computer interaction (HCI and human factors. The chapter looks at advances in technology and research, summarizes the developments of the first two generations of user interfaces, and examines current (as of 1998) developments in the field. One way to look at the chapter is shown in figure 1, with technology, information seeking, and interface design research and development shifting from mainframes to PCs to the web, from professionals to literate end users to universal access, and from ASCII characters to graphics to multimedia respectively. Some early developments remain important today, such as the components of an interactive system – task, user, terminal and content (with context added later). Another milestone was the development of the GOMS (goals, operators, methods and selection) model, the first formal model of of HCI. Two themes throughout the chapter are the interdependent nature of research in this area and the importance of human-centered concepts and design.
This is a really good summary of the history of HCI with an eye specifically toward searching and information use. It’s not surprising the many of the names we have seen on articles this semester show up here as well. The only real regret I have is that there are no pictures. User interfaces often rely on visual display for interaction, so in addition to all the description it would be really interesting to see examples of the different generations of user interfaces. One other criticism is that little attention is paid the the interfaces of video games—I have read a lot of articles about interface design that ignore this field as well.
Although it is a little out of date, there’s a lot to be taken from this chapter’s historical perspective. I found three things in particular that were talked about in relationship to third-generation user interfaces that were particularly interesting. First was the move toward universal access or ubiquitous computing. It is in some ways a measure of success that researchers now worry about the lack of computers in Sub-Saharan Africa—this wouldn’t be a problem if information seeking computer interfaces were not so available, useful, and approachable. Second was the notion that the advance of the web in some ways slowed the advance of user interface design, although the apparent disadvantage quickly disappeared. This is something I’ve run into in a different form as a web designer—clients complaining that their web site did not look exactly like their brochure. Again, in some ways this was an embarrassment of riches—the web site cost nothing to distribute, could be found by search engines, acted as a storefront, but the lack of a particular font face was a step backward? Finally, the notion that the whole field is really interdisciplinary is important to always keep in mind.