Human-centered computing

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Human-centered computing (HCC) is a broadly defined interdisciplinary buzzword concerned with computing and computational artifacts as they relate to the human condition. Researchers and practitioners who affiliate themselves with human-centered computing usually come from one or more of the following disciplines: human factors, computer science, sociology, psychology, cognitive science, anthropology, communication studies, graphic design, science and technology studies, and industrial design.

The term "human-centered computing" originates from Rob Kling and Susan Leigh Star in the paper "Human Centered Systems in the Perspective of Organizational and Social Informatics".[1] According to Kling and Star, the key feature of human-centered computing systems is that "knowledge of human users and the social context in which systems are expected to operate become integrated into the computer science agenda, even at the earliest stages of research and development."

Research in human-centered computing has multiple goals. Some researchers focus on understanding humans, both as individuals and in social groups, by focusing on the ways that human beings adopt, adapt, and organize their lives around computational technologies. Others focus on developing new design strategies for computational artifacts. Human-centered design of computational tools attempts to address problems that traditional design approaches, such as heuristic evaluations and measurements of productivity and efficiency, do not generally address. Designing computational tools for spirituality, for fun, and for leisure are some examples of non-traditional design problems that are of interest to HCC researchers and engineers. HCC researchers also bring a diverse array of conceptual and research tools to traditional computing areas such as computer-supported cooperative work, computer-supported collaborative learning, and ubiquitous computing.

Human-centered computing is closely related to other interdisciplinary fields such as human-computer interaction and information science, and exactly where the boundaries between these fields lie is not clear. Broadly speaking, however, human-centered computing usually concerns itself with systems and practices of technology use. Human-computer interaction is more focused on ergonomics and the usability of computing artifacts, while information science is focused on practices surrounding the collection, manipulation, and use of information. The Human-Centered Computing program at the National Science Foundation is a combination of former programs in human-computer interaction, universal access (essentially human-computer interaction for the disabled and other special populations), and social informatics (social computing and social implications of computing).


User interface designer[edit]

Main article: User interface design

A user interface designer is an individual who usually with a relevant degree or high level of knowledge, not only on technology, cognitive science, human–computer interaction, learning sciences, but also on psychology and sociology. A user interface designer develops and applies user-centered design methodologies and agile development processes that includes consideration for overall usability of interactive software applications, emphasizing interaction design and front-end development.

Information architect (IA)[edit]

Information architects mainly work to understand user and business needs in order to organize information to best satisfy these needs. Specifically, Information architects often act as a key bridge between technical and creative development in a project team. Currently almost all IAs work on web sites so most of them are hired by companies with a large enough web presence to support a full-time information architect as well as service firms and agencies that create web sites for clients.

IT development for life changing events[edit]

There are career opportunities in the private sector that designs applications for life changing events. Human centered computing can play an essential role in life changing and transitional events such as moving, graduation, joining army, birth, and getting married. HCC's potential effectiveness in this area can assist in designing, developing, and testing IT applications and services. Several wedding organizers are already using human centered computing and create huge impact in our society by organizing smooth and satisfactory wedding experiences. An understanding of computing that helps and supports individuals in all life transitions from their birth to the end of their life requires a shift in our thinking. For example, moving can be either a very stressful or a very smooth and pleasant transition depending on to what extent we use IT. Many moving companies such as U-haul have been designing highly usable IT applications that improve millions of American's lives. Another example of human centered computing is designing apps for the transition from childhood to adolescence. Educational content that revolves around human aspects of its users has been developed by companies to serve the young which can decrease isolation and suicide.


  1. ^ Kling, Rob and Star, Susan Leigh (May 19, 1997). "Human centered systems in the perspective of organizational and social informatics". Human Center Systems. National Science Foundation. Retrieved December 31, 2011. 

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