It was back in the 1970s when HCI started to pick up with computer graphics and information retrieval, when people came to recognize that interactive systems were the key to progressing beyond early achievements. These threads of development in computer science paved the way for computers to empower people today. HCI for me first of all is the science of interaction between two artifacts – human and computer. When thinking of it, the original slogan „easy to learn, easy to use“ isnt far from it.
Going through the evolution of HCI and the many branches that have emerged, it becomes clear that it isnt that simple and obvious today. I also realized that it no longer makes sense to regard HCI as a speciality of computer science. As the area of expertise broadened, computers seized to be mere interaction objects. With the emergence of email in the mid 1980s computers and networks became communication channels. It not only changed the way we saw the devices but it also started to evolve and change the way we interact with each other. They became mediators.
The change also started a vast selection of collaborative activities including instant messaging, wikis, blogs, online forums, social networking, social bookmarking, media spaces etc. This area of HCI, now often called social computing, is also one which is most rapidly developing.
One of the most realizable areas of HCI development includes ubiquitous computing. Laptops, handhelds, smartphones, tabs and other devices are as common as cars. People are used to having more and more interactive and computational devices within their everyday environment. The devices have been incorporated into a wide variety of habitats like cars, home appliances, furniture, clothing, and so forth. Desktop computing is still very important, though the desktop habitat has been transformed by the wide use of laptops. HCI will continue to move and develope to inhabit new areas and unlock new possibilities of human activity and experience.
As well as the physical means of human-computer interaction the design of the interfaces is one to have a lot of effort put into it. With developing graphics design it has become one of the more rapidly developing side of HCI. User experience design and interaction design are two of the best known design areas of HCI. It might be a surprise but they were not imported into HCI but rather were among the first exports to from HCI to the design world.
As a result of all previosly noted developments, HCI has become a vast area of research and practice. It was originally at home in computer science, but it has come a long way. From its original focus on personal productivity applications, which were mainly text editing, and spreadsheets, the field has constantly grown and diversified. It has encompassed visualization, information systems, collaborative systems the system development process, and many areas of design.
In conclusion, HCI is a story of many very different yet similar characters. It is not easy to define HCI with only one sentence and yet it seems to be clear as day when approached from one or the other side. As far as I am concerned, it starts with two intereacting artefacts – a human and a computer.