Posted by: clare on: June 23, 2012
I’m really excited about the paper I’m presenting today. It’s entitled Web Science and Human-Computer Interaction: When Disciplines Collide. As you might suspect from the title, it concerns the intersections and opportunities involved in the relationship between HCI and WebSci.
The story behind the paper is that way back in January, before I started at Newcastle, I was in yet another conversation in which we were turning over the “what is Web Science?” question. The thought struck me that WebSci and HCI have a lot in common. After all, they’re both radically interdisciplinary, and they both involve the intersection of people and technology.
And then I thought hey, why not explore this in a more grounded way?
This paper is the result. I was delighted to co-author the paper with Alan Dix, which was a great pairing for this topic — I’ve had the privilege of growing up in the Web Science community, and Alan for his part is an integral part of the HCI community (after all, he wrote the book!). As an aside, writing with Alan was an absolute delight, and not just because we seem to have a very similar linguistic style :)
So what did we find? Well, you’ll have to come to the presentation or read the paper for the full story ;) But here’s a sneak preview:
After briefly describing Web Science and Human-Computer Interaction, Alan and I embark upon an odyssey in which we discuss the relationship between the two in terms of subject matter, scope and methodology. We draw on Ben Shneiderman’s 2011 paper on Macro- and Micro-HCI, which looks at research approaches and questions within HCI — it gives a really nice lens with which to compare HCI and WebSci. Macro-HCI and WebSci certainly have overlaps in terms of scope, but much WebSci work seems to use methods that are aligned with Micro-HCI.
We also offer four lessons to the WebSci community from HCI (given the latter’s greater age, this seems not unreasonable!). These involve the handling of divergent approaches (we’re talking about interpretivist vs positivist lenses here); methodological issues that arise when doing interdisciplinary work; metrics for evaluation; and overall focus / framing.
I’m passionate about the Web Science community, and as someone that engages in both HCI and Web Science, I’m really pleased to have been able to do a piece of work that draws on that. I’m hoping to provoke some good discussion on how we go about Web Science.