About HCI

By its very nature, HCI is a truly multidisciplinary endeavour. HCI research is conducted in a wide range of disciplines and settings at Canadian universities and research establishments. Some of these disciplines focus primarily on the human aspects. These include cognitive psychology, human factors, and ergonomics, social psychology, organizational psychology, and studies relating to the effects of ageing. Cognitive science is also a relevant perspective involving the study of cognitive processes. In addition, the human aspects of HCI include sociology and anthropology, especially research regarding the impact of technology and technological factors on society as a whole. Several areas in the study of commerce, such as consumer behaviour, knowledge management, and especially information systems, also contribute to HCI. HCI draws upon research from many fields, such as architecture and design, literature, music, theatre and film, and cultural and media theory, to not only explore the aesthetic, affective, and semiotic dimensions of new media and technologies but to also explore the symbolic traces they leave on our built environment, individual subjectivities, and communities. The HCI degree reflects this diversity and covers a range of human involvement, from the individual at the base, to groups, to organizations, such as business and human culture in general.

Other disciplines focus primarily on the technical aspects. Aspects that include computer and system engineering, especially engineering for direct human use, digital signal processing for communications, human factors and ergonomics, and engineering of safety systems are all relevant. In addition, software engineering and computer science involve software development processes, requirements analysis, prototyping, user interface design, web technology, computer graphics, computer modelling, and computer security. This involves HCI because it supports the implementation of design, and developers are also users, and their processes and tools need improvement.

Human and technology aspects are linked together in various disciplines that address the application of technology for some specific human ends. These disciplines, such as industrial design and architecture, are involved because they stress the relationship between human use and technology as information and communications technology increasingly feature in the nature of their subject matter. These disciplines all focus on the skill of applying traditional design principles to two- and three-dimensional (virtual or physical) environments, artifacts, and sensory-rich (visual, auditory, haptic, etc.) interaction.

This range of contributing disciplines includes the large and concrete scale of architecture, the human scale of industrial design, multimedia, and new media such as ubiquitous or locative media. Another disciplinary example is cartography because it has long concerned the human qualities in understanding and facilitating work in the earth sciences.