5 June 2006

Can collaboration help redefine usability?

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“Imagine if [you] could go to a web site that served as a single point of entry to a rich, ever-evolving knowledge base reflecting the current state of the [usability] field,” ponders Charles B. Kreitzberg in the third issue of the UPA’s Journal of Usability Studies.

“This knowledge base would incorporate both formal and tacit knowledge. It would integrate empirical findings with practical techniques. It would include theory and opinion. All the information would be organized for easy retrieval, appropriately tagged and presented so that the reader could easily distinguish between generally accepted ideas and more speculative ones. Readers could add comments in a way that preserved the integrity and usability of the information. Editors would monitor and summarize these comments so that they did not clutter up the articles and would aggregate and link them so that ideas from diverse sources were easily accessible. Over time, these comments from readers could inspire research, serve as the foundations for documenting best practices and help refine the organization of the knowledge base.”

“Today, pieces of such a knowledge base exist. There is a small but interesting HCI/usability section of Wikipedia (Wikipedia Contributors, 2006b). The Usability Professionals Association has recently launched its Body of Knowledge (BoK) project. There are countless usability blogs, message boards and listservers. But to my knowledge, no one has attempted to integrate all this information into a single, collaborative knowledge space. I believe that creating such a knowledge space would be of immense benefit to the usability profession and would be a wonderful platform on which to refine our understanding of social computing and knowledge management.”

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