May 18, 2011

CHI 2011, Bill Buxton, and the Buxton Collection: Explore 35 years of interactive devices, online!

Bill Buxton is a researcher at Microsoft who focuses on Human-Computer Interaction and is known for his work in user experience design and natural user interfaces such as multi-touch surfaces.   His talk at the recent CHI 2011 conference, held in Vancouver, Canada, was an overview of the Buxton Collection, an on-line historical archive of interactive input devices spanning over the past 35 years.  


It was interesting to note that at the time of the presentation, the Vancouver Conference Center, where the conference was taking place, was having serious problems with the network/internet connections, and as a consequence, Buxton was not able to demonstrate the on-line version of his collection as planned.  

Not to worry.  The physical version of the Buxton's archive was on display during the conference, along with Buxton, who was happy to tell the story behind every device and gadget in the archive, with much enthusiasm. The slideshow below provides a glimpse of the Bill Buxton archive displayed at CHI 2011:



My Buxton Collection Slideshow, CHI 2011, Vancouver, Canada

Buxton's archive of gadgets comes with a rich history, accumulated over the years. Much of this history, until now, has resided in Buxton's head.   Holding and touching the items in the archive while listening to Buxton's passionate stories about each one, was unlike anything I had ever experienced.  His archive is a labor of love, and the interactive, on-line version of the Buxton Collection is his way of sharing his knowledge with the world.


During his talk, Buxton pointed out that in computer science programs, students are not required to have much exposure to the "history of ideas" in the field.  Huge chunks of work are often ignored in the literature,  and in some cases, the wheel is unknowingly reinvented, and this is something that must be addressed within the CHI community, according to Buxton. 


I agree.

RELATED
Previous IMT posts about Bill Buxton
Bill Buxton's Presentation Video: "A Little Tale about Touch" (Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, 2010)
Two good articles by Bill Buxton: The Mad Dash Towards Touch Technology; The Long Nose of Innovation
Buxton Collection
Buxton Collection, PivotViewer
Back to the Past: Bill Buxton Shows Off 36 Years of Tech Devices
Microsoft News Center, 5/9/11
Microsoft's Bill Buxton exhibits gadget collection 35 years in the making
Donald Melanson, engadget, 5/9/11
Bill Buxton's Haptic Input References (pdf)
Bill Buxton's website
Multi-touch Systems that I Have Known and Loved (Bill Buxton)
CES 2010: NUI with Bill Buxton

On Engineering and Design: An Open Letter Microsoft Research Principal Scientist Bill Buxton calls for engineers and user experience designers to learn to appreciate one another
Bill Buxton, Bloomberg Businessweek, 4/29/09
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