IXD History Wrap Up

References and Videos plus my next project

I hope you enjoyed the intro lectures I shared from my Interaction Design History class I taught this past fall (2020).

The lectures barely scratch the surface of a deep, complex and intertwined history of our field. To read some history books, you might think Interaction Design comes from Industrial Design. To talk to others, you might believe that Interaction Design comes from Graphic Design. Still others believe it comes out of Computing. I believe it’s a little of all of these and also from Information Architecture, Video Games, Ergonomics and Human Factors, among others. The field is a melting pot of disciplines.

The stories we teach and that we read about in the current crop of books, tell stories of mostly white men, mostly in Silicon Valley. These are not the full story or the only stories. Many women were also working on these teams, sometimes doing the actual work, but not getting the credit. I’m working on a new project to help remedy that—writing about the women who have made our field through its fits and starts.

Lots of research went into developing the class and much of the information ended up on the cutting room floor but I’d like to share the full breadth of what I reviewed, watched and read.

Some of the references I used when I was writing my lectures and making assignments for my students. Check out the Notion site for the full list.

Notion Site of References Used and Assigned
These are all the books and articles I read and resources that I pulled for my students to read. I had to school myself on some Industrial Design and Computing history to round out the knowledge beyond the disciplines I know most about (Graphic Design, Information architecture, IXD from 1995 on)
The Notion page can be viewed as a data sheet — like a spreadsheet or in card form with the book covers shown — whichever is easiest for you to parse.

YouTube Collection — IXD History
these are all the videos shared in the past 15 posts, plus the ones I didn’t share or have my students watch, but that I considered including like stories about the game Myst which was an interesting phenomenon or W.A. Dwiggins who coined the phrase Graphic Design (some say) or the video asking what happened to UseNet, which were the original message board communities—I recall being in many UseNet boards in grad school via our RITVAX unix system in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

Vimeo — History of IXD
All the videos I shared plus a bunch of other fantastic talks from Interactions and IA Summit conferences including the great IAC20 keynote from Abby Covert about organizing information and the evolution of information architecture over her career and in tech environments.

A Timeline Across Disciplines
As I researched, I pulled together points of interest, inflection and innovation into a spreadsheet timeline. It’s not easy to see on a small screen but it looks at all the disciplines and what happened at different points in time related to world events starting in pre-history with man-made symbols. I kind of petered out in the late 2010s but will continue to add to this as I have time.

Note: All these lectures were delivered via video with related slide decks of images. Following the intro, students had a series of readings and videos to watch related to the topics covered in the lecture or the overall time frame. They were then given a set of prompts to stimulate their thinking and writings which ended up in a class blog.

IXD Futures
AI & machine learning, AR & VR, speculative design & futures, intro lecture 15

Information Age
Information Age: Voice, Design systems, mobile & IoT, intro lecture 14
Information Age: The dot com boom, rise of e-commerce, accessible to universal—intro lecture 13
Information Age: Information Architecture & Richard Saul Wurman, intro lecture 12

Computer Age
Computer Age: AOL, Girl Games, intro lecture 11
Computer Age: The World Wide Web, Browsers, Early Community, intro lecture 10
Computer Age: Early personal computers & games – intro lecture 9
Computer Age: Christopher Alexander, Muriel Cooper and Architecting Space, intro lecture 8

Silicon Age
Silicon Age: Visioning the Future, intro lecture 7
Silicon Age: The Mother of All Demos, intro lecture 6

Industrial Age
Industrial Age: Mid-Century Designers, Designing For People, intro lecture 5
Industrial Age: Between the Wars, intro lecture 4
Industrial Revolution & Manifestos, intro lecture3

In the Beginning
Read intro lecture 2 — In the Beginning Part 2
Read intro lecture 1 — In the Beginning Part 1

Setting the Stage
See the visual syllabus and how I approached putting this class together

My next deep dive, as mentioned above, is to write about the women of Interaction Design. I am researching and interviewing people now and pondering where to start and who to include. I just finished reading Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans and learned about a bunch of women who I had never heard of before. Her book has more of an East Coast perspective than many books about computing & internet history so that’s not surprising to me. But it clarified how and why the early pioneers in computing (UNIVAC, ENIAC) were written out of history.

If you know about women you’d like to learn more about, drop a note into the comments and I will add them to my list. I am eager to research women of color and women from other countries besides the U.S. who are (or were) doing interesting things in Interaction Design. Check out the project over at Women of IXD.