2 September 2008

The history of interaction with Bill Verplank

Be the first to share

Bill Verplank
Jared Spool recently interviewed Bill Verplank, the extremely gentle man at the origins of the fields of interaction design and experience design, whom I had the pleasure of meeting many times at the meanwhile defunct Interaction Design Institute Ivrea.

“Have you ever thought about how many buttons should be on a mouse?

Bill Verplank has. Bill was part of the Xerox PARC team who was responsible for taking the mouse and many other computing paradigms from theory to indispensable.

I had a chance to speak with Bill about his time at PARC and all of his other influential work for this week’s podcast. If you’re interested in where many of today’s computing metaphors come from, or in design and computing history in general, this is the show for you.

Today’s usability, interaction design, and experience design disciplines have their roots in human factors engineering, which many, including Bill, trace back to the 1950s, when the U.S. government was investing heavily in cockpit design of jet fighters. It was upon that foundation, Bill studied design and engineering at Stanford and did his PhD. work at MIT in man-machine systems.

From there, he spent considerable time with Xerox PARC, working on some of the first office systems, including the Xerox Star, which was a major influence for both the Macintosh user interface and Microsoft Windows. Bill continues to trace his history through some of the most influential design agencies of our time, like IDEO, and winds up with a question of design education: what happens when engineers and artists meet and try to create something usable for humans? Bill is seeing important schools, like the Rhode Island School of Design and Carnegie Mellon University, experimenting with programs that put engineers and artists together. We also debated the impact and interpretation of experience design and its impact on various industries.

Our conversation ended with a preview of Bill’s Spotlight Plenary presentation at our UI Conference this fall. Bill is known for his mesmerizing talks where he sketches his points along with the talk. (At the conference, we’ll have a camera set up so you can watch him sketch as he talks!)”

Audio file (mp3) | Text transcript (txt)

Be the first to share
19 November 2016
A conversation with Dan Ariely about what shapes our motivations
A professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, Dan Ariely relentlessly examines our assumptions about ourselves—and finds they’re often totally misconstrued. We think, for example, that money is our main motivator in the …
15 November 2016
[Book] Sensemaking
Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm by Christian Madsbjerg Hachette Books March 2017, 256 pages Inspired by his work with companies like Ford and Coca-Cola, Madsbjerg's Sensemaking is a provocative stand against the …
14 November 2016
Billions spent on cyber security tech while human error ignored
Billions spent on cyber security tech while human error ignored, writes Misha Glenny in the Financial Times. Armies of zombie computers threaten us all. Despite the headlines, the cyber security industry has prioritised the development of …
12 November 2016
The time of user empathy
Forbes Product Member, Alec Pomnichowski, describes the parallels between architecture and product development thinking. He asks product-types to be considerate and thoughtful about the ways in which users experience products and find value in them …
11 November 2016
The cognitive psychologist’s view of UX design
Psychologist and cognitive scientist Dr. Susan Weinschenk explains how her science informs UX design. Weinschenk takes research and knowledge about the brain, the visual system, memory, and motivation and extrapolates ten UX design principles from …
28 October 2016
Experientia’s President, Michele Visciòla, panel judge for MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition
The 100&Change is an international competition and a landmark opportunity for thinkers and designers to tackle critical challenges affecting the world. Michele Visciòla will be one of the panel of expert judges who will select …
22 October 2016
[Book] Org Design for Design Orgs
Org Design for Design Orgs: Building and Managing In-House Design Teams By Peter Merholz and Kristin Skinner Publisher: O'Reilly Media August 2016, 198 pages Design has become the key link between users and today’s complex and rapidly evolving digital …
18 October 2016
Behavioral economics, UX design and insurance
The key to unlocking the insurance industry, writes Richie Hecker in TechCrunch, is understanding behavioral economics. The most successful players in insurance tech, he says, will win by rounding the edges on existing products. "Don’t …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

1 December 2016
More on upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities

Last month Putting People First announced the upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities in Nice France. Meanwhile we are pleased to announce the full event agenda (see below). This event will feature professionals from leading research institutes and industry gathering to present key initiatives which combine Energy Efficiency and Service Design […]

29 October 2016
Upcoming conference on design & sustainable innovation for smart cities

Invitation to the International Conference on Design & Sustainable Innovation for SmartCities Nice (France) 8 December 2016 On the 8th December 2016, the CITYOPT project will host an international conference on Design and sustainable innovation for SmartCities, at the Centre Universitaire Méditerranéen, France. An open invitation to attend is offered to people and organisations who […]

28 October 2016
Experientia’s President, Michele Visciòla, panel judge for MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition

The 100&Change is an international competition and a landmark opportunity for thinkers and designers to tackle critical challenges affecting the world. Michele Visciòla will be one of the panel of expert judges who will select which project is worthy of the $100 million grant. 100&Change is the MacArthur Foundation competition – launched this year for […]

5 September 2016
Great engine, but the fuel seems poor. Discussing insight development in corporate marketing

The September issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) contains a lengthy essay, entitled Building an Insights Engine, on how Unilever has created the organizational capabilities to “transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and to turn those insights into strategy.” The article was written by Frank van den Driest and Keith Weed of a […]

29 August 2016
Experientia discussing ethnography and patient-centricity at EPIC 2016

This week Experientia joins our colleagues and peers in Minneapolis at EPIC 2016, the premier international gathering on ethnography and design in industry. The theme for the conference this year is Pathmaking, emphasizing the power of ethnography to create transformative innovation, growth and strategic success for companies, industries and communities. On the second day of […]

22 June 2016
A united energy economy: Experientia helps wrap up the CITYOPT Nice pilot project

Can behavioral change address local energy issues, raise people’s awareness energy consumption issues, and directly support non-profit organizations at the same time? With the Nice pilot of the CITYOPT project, we have seen strong suggestions that it can. It also suggests that the sense of belonging to a local community is a strong motivation for […]

See all articles