Coast to coast: St Andrews to Tiree

A week ago I was in St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland delivering three lectures on “Human Computer Interaction: as it was, as it is and as it may be” as part of their distinguished lecture series and now I am in Tiree in the wild western ocean off the west coast.

I had a great time in St Andrews and was well looked after by some I knew already Ian, Gordan, John and Russell, and also met many new people. Ate good food and stayed in a lovely hotel overlooking the sea (and golf course) and full of pictures of golfers (well what do you expect in St Andrews).

For the lectures, I was told the general pattern was one lecture about the general academic area, one ‘state of the art’ and one about my own stuff … hence the three parts of the title!  Ever for cutesy titles I then called the individual lectures “Whose Computer Is It Anyway”, “The Great Escape” and “Connected, but Under Control, Big, but Brainy?”.

The first lecture was about the fact that computers are always ultimately for people (surprise surprise!) and I used Ian’s slight car accident on the evening before the lecture as a running example (sorry Ian).

The second lecture was about the way computers have escaped the office desktop and found their way into the physical world of ubiquitous computing, the digital world of the web ad into our everyday lives in out homes and increasingly the hub of our social lives too.  Matt Oppenheim did some great cartoons for this and I’m going to use them again in a few weeks when I visit Dublin to do the inaugural lecture for SIGCHI Ireland.

for 20 years the computer is chained to the office desktop (image © Matt Oppenheim)

(© Matt Oppenheim)

... now escapes: out into the world, spreading across the net, in the home, in our social lives (image © Matt Oppenheim)

(© Matt Oppenheim)

The last lecture was about intelligent internet stuff, similar to the lecture I gave at Aveiro a couple of weeks back … mentioning again the fact that the web now has the same information storage and processing capacity as a human brain1 … always makes people think … well at least it always makes ME think about what it means to be human.

… and now … in Tiree … sun, wild wind, horizontal hail, and paddling in the (rather chilly) sea at dawn

  1. see the brain and the web[back]