Sketching and Design for the Wild: Why Programmers Should Return to Kindergarten Rather than Program

Speaker: Bill Buxton , Microsoft Research

Date: Friday, September 14, 2007

Time: 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Refreshments: 2:45 PM

Public: Yes

Location: 32-141

Event Type:

Room Description:

Host: Rob Miller, MIT CSAIL

Contact: Michael Bernstein, x3-0452,

Relevant URL:

Speaker URL: None

Speaker Photo:

Reminders to:,,

Reminder Subject: TALK: Bill Buxton, Sketching and Design for the Wild: Why Programmers Should Return to Kindergarten Rather than Program

*Note unusual location and time*

Despite decades of research and experience in software engineering, and 25 years of history of SIGCHI, the record shows that computer science has a disastrous track record in terms of our capability to develop new products. Why? By analogy to traditional architecture, the argument made is that our tradition is to have the architect (if there is one – and there practically never is) and the structural engineer (what we call the architect), start on the project the same day that the construction crew breaks ground.

We wouldn’t accept this for our own house or office, and we shouldn’t in terms of product design.

As an alternative, what is argued for in this talk is a process that incorporates an explicit cross disciplinary design phase – one that precedes the project being green-lit for productization, much less production engineering. The nature of this design phase is the main topic of the talk. And, no, programming is not the answer - extreme and agile techniques notwithstanding. For more valuable is reverting to the social and technical skills that we learned in kindergarten.

Speaker Biography:
Bill Buxton is the author of the new book, Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design, published by Morgan Kaufmann.

Trained as a musician, Bill began using computers over thirty years ago in his art. This early experience, both in the studio and on stage, helped develop a deep appreciation of both the positive and negative aspects of technology. This increasingly drew him into both design and research, with a very strong emphasis on interaction and the human aspects of technology. He first came to prominence for his work at the University of Toronto on digital musical instruments and the novel interfaces that they employed. This work in the late 70s gained the attention of Xerox PARC, where Buxton participated in pioneering research in collaborative work, interaction techniques and ubiquitous computing. This work was carried on in parallel with his activities as Scientific Director of the Ontario Telepresence Project at the University of Toronto. In 1994, Buxton joined Alias Research (and in 1995 its parent company SGI, as well) where he had the opportunity to work with some of the top filmmakers and industrial designers in the world. He was Chief Scientist at Alias during the entire development of an animation package called Maya, which won an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement. He is now a principal researcher at Microsoft Corp., where he splits his time between research and helping make design a fundamental pillar of the corporate culture. In 2007, Buxton was named Doctor of Design, Honoris Causa, by the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Research Areas:

Impact Areas:

See other events that are part of the HCI Seminar Series Fall 2007.

Created by Linda L. Julien Email at Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 6:22 AM.