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Teaching UxD: You Can't Go Home Again …

Teaching UxD: You Can't Go Home Again
SIGDOC 2013, Michael Salvo
Purdue University, salvo@purdue.edu

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  • There’s something of a rabbit hole here. My subtitle is both a warning and reference.
  • Thomas Wolfe, born in Asheville, is a great literary son of North Carolina, so I make this specific reference. Maybe we can go home again. Or perhaps home really is the idealized sense of place we have reated, a fiction, that is in our minds, and what surprises us is how different “real” life, “reality” is in contrast. Ever go back to your grammar school? The halways are much smaller than your memory. George Webber finds his hometown has shrunk somehow – it’s too tight for him to fit. It’s a good parable for our field: growing, expanding, through the 90s, then shrinking with the economic winds of fortune and politics. Real or imaginary, they impact us, and make us feel confined, or we reach out to explore new vistas.
  • I feel fortunate to be invited to join this panel precisely because I’m not sure I’d have come otherwise. In some ways, SIGDOC is not (yet?)
  • Does not yet (yet?) feel like my academic, research home. Brent has been on me, inviting me, cajoling me to come. All the panelists, urging me to contribute.
  • Today I’m going to mix together two scenes. I have been doing this quite a bit lately; mixing together homegrown Midwestern rhetorical education emplaced at a big ten university, traveling across the Atlantic to Scotland, and comparing Purdue to Dundee, articulating one off the other. One is never at home in the others’ space. And I am excited to learn that Will Banks supports a study abroad theough East Carolina, and that Liza Potts is supporting one through Michigan Tech. Anyone else running study abroad programs?
  • This is Dudnee. Actually, it’ s the rebuilt Tay Bridge that crosses the estuary from Wormit to Invergowrie on the way to Dundee. The pylons you see on the right are the failed footings – the last evidence of the horrible iron railway disaster that first gave Dundee its reputation. My first trip across to Dundee was in 2009, then in 2011 I brought students with me, and again in 2013 we will study at the University of Dundee.
  • This is one of the beter pictures of Dundee I’ve taken – this is from the top of the tower, a café on the top floor of the administration building.
  • My questions here reflect the thinking I’ve been doing with our Scottish colleagues.
  • My questions here reflect the thinking I’ve been doing with our Scottish colleagues.
  • Before I offer an answer, I want to bring further complexity to the questions themselves through the example of the city of Dundee and its renewal plans.
  • Will home ever feel like home again? Perhaps it’s time to leave the nest, the routine, and the familial familiar
  • familial familiar
  • This, the Victoria and Albert Museum, is Dundee’s future, and it’s exiting as well as expensive. But it will transform the city. Many who grew up in the city will not recognize it as home one the downtown restorations and additions are in place. (If time: new hotels, new shopping district, University buildings, train stations, and new biomass fuel depot.)
  • Biomass fuel depot.
  • My hosts in 2009 were technology anthropologists and sociologiest who had left their disciplinary homes in anthropology and sociology
  • And, at first, joined with the School of Computing at Dundee. It was here in the Queen Mum building (because the Queen’s Mother dedicated it) that I was housed, and which had two laboratories dedicated to usability and user research.
  • As the building filled, the welcome originally extended the Design Ethnography group was wearing thin, and the huge unfillable building began to feel a little cramped.
  • And so Design Ethnography moved.
  • So new, this is the only photograph I could find, of the Design College in 2009, because it was draped in scaffolding in 2011, and recently unveiled.
  • Here’s the architectural rendering of the building.
  • The point I’m making here is that this world-class unique research strength is an itinerant an in search of a permanent home. I would like to think the Design College is Design Ethnography’s home, but we shall see.
  • Because I am always thinking about how I teach my undergraduate majors. Here the 2013 class gathers for the spring showcase, with a wall display of posters behind them.
  • We had a dozen different groups attend, wanting to meet our majors. It wasn’t a job fare, but as Ashley here on the right put it together, it was an opportunity for professional writing majors to engage publishers, research officers, and others who came to the event, to teach them what they believed their contribution was to the university. Ashley called it a “reverse job fare.” What do you mean, Ashley? “Well,” she said, “it means I have an opportunity to demonstrate the value of techno-rhetoric, without trying to get myself a job. Instead I can advocate for my major.” Yup. She had three job offers by graduation.
  • And a little food never hurt either.
  • Charlotte here is working on her poster –NASA Spinoffs, meant to engage taxpayers with examples of what the space program has made possible. Over 3 years, the poster and infographic assignment as gone from being a specialized assignment in the document design class, to a staple of the major, to a pipe dream in the mind of the director (me) that every student enrolled in business and technical writing will submit an 11 by 17 poster or infographic.
  • I want the walls of the spring showcase 2014 meeting room to be covered with infographics, big data analyses, and technical posters.
  • So how, anew, can we think about these questions? I have been asking them in reflection with and contrast to our Scottish colleagues, and our European partners. EuroIA is another potential outlet. We have to consider home, and how it has provided us with the resources we have needed to become what we now are. Do we leave and set up anew elsewhere? Fight for more space? Accept itinerancy and wander? Perhaps we do have a new metaphor and reference for our wandering natures.
  • I feel fortunate to be invited to join this panel precisely because I’m not sure I’d have come otherwise. In some ways, SIGDOC is not (yet?)

Transcript

  • 1. Teaching UxD: You Can't Go Home Again SIGDOC 2013 Michael Salvo Purdue University salvo@purdue.edu
  • 2. Teaching UxD: You Can't Go Home Again SIGDOC 2013 Michael Salvo Purdue University salvo@purdue.edu
  • 3. is not (yet?)
  • 4. Re/mix
  • 5. Does the history of usability research lead us to a new trans-disciplinary construction, Or is UX comfortable (at home) as an area within web design, part of technical communication, or something new? How might UX emerge as a new professional and intellectual identity?
  • 6. What new homesteading is possible? That is, how do we make new habitués? And do we have to leave fallow the homesteads that have nurtured us?
  • 7. What was it about our disciplinary home? Comfort? Stability? Predictability? Scalability?
  • 8. If we leave… When we leave Will we want to go home again? Thomas Wolfe said we can’t.
  • 9. Familial Familiar (painfully similar)
  • 10. University of Dundee Design Ethnography Trained Anthropologists
  • 11. From the College of Computing to Duncan of Jordanstone School of Architecture and Design
  • 12. Does the history of usability research lead us to a new trans-disciplinary construction, Or is UX comfortable (at home) as an area within web design, part of technical communication, or something new? How might UX emerge as a new professional and intellectual identity?
  • 13. Teaching UxD: You Can't Go Home Again SIGDOC 2013 Michael Salvo Purdue University salvo@purdue.edu