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I guess we would be remiss if we didn’t discuss Don Norman’s recent article on Activity Centered Design. Reading through it brought a few things to mind, but more than anything it had me thinking about the mechanisms by which our field evolves.
Although HCI/UCD/UX/etc has gained visibility and achieved significant diversification of roles, our discipline is still quite young. As recent as twenty years ago, very few pieces of software had any formal usability evaluation, and outside of very small circles there was no discussion. Since then, we’ve gone through several phases of learning and adaptation, and there’s no doubt that these efforts have grown the field and improved software usability. But regardless of how much we think we know, it is valuable to assess where we are. Do we know all there is to know about UX? Is there even an endpoint to reach?
It seems pretty clear to me that we are nowhere near the endpoint of our learning in usability and design. Given this, it makes sense to keep pushing, questioning, and exploring new (and in this case, reviving old) avenues of thought. So why has Norman’s article caused such a stir?