Monday, September 13, 2010

Eye catcher in the News

There were three topics that captured my attention while I was reviewing the press. As an HCI specialist, I feel that one way or another, this might affect our professional life, if not our daily life. The first bit of news was the announcement by Google and Verizon that stated they are nearing an agreement that “could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege”(New York Times August 4, 2010). However this might also mean that access to other content would be slower.

Then in another article Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff (, August 17, 2010) argues that although the usage of the Internet network (a physical networks of devices) is augmenting, the usage of world wide web would decline due to the shift of usage from web browsing to apps. They write that “You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web” because “Over the past few years, one of the most important shifts in the digital world has been the move from the wide-open Web to semiclosed platforms that use the Internet for transport but not the browser for display. “

Though one might argue that this trend might not necessarily happen soon, or that perhaps another eventual technology mutation might stop the life of Apps and create something else, it is noticeable that the building and designing of the application for a variety of features and products is the trend in the user interface design and human computer interaction. This would obviously affect search based user behaviors influenced by Google into a more selective pattern.

From the design perspective a variety of changes can be highlighted, such as the slow conversion to smaller screens. Looking at the multitude of apps on smart phones and their behaviors shows the extent at which learning is facilitated by fewer amount of rules or patterns to learn.

The third story I noticed was an interesting investigation by the Wall Street Journal, which was echoed by other press (National Public Radio network), showing that the fastest-growing businesses on Internet are the ones spying on consumers (Wall Street Journal, July 30th 2010) and how the Web sites (including WSJ) that we are visiting each day are tracking our behavior by using "cookies," "beacons" and "Flash cookies," on our computers. According to this study, an average of 64 tracking cookies were installed from each site by the 50 sites on a test computer used to conduct the study. This study reports that only one site, the encyclopedia, installed none and “twelve sites, including IAC/InterActive Corp.'s, Comcast Corp.'s and Microsoft Corp.'s, installed more than 100 tracking tools apiece in the course of the Journal's test”.


HCI International NEWS - September 2010 - Number 43