Research with a Hacker Ethos

We’re holding in our hands a brand new issue of the ACM’s interactions magazine, which contains our article “Research with a Hacker Ethos: what DIY means for tangible interaction research“. (This is a scan of the magazine article, but we hope to upload a nicer PDF soon.) The lovely and talented Alicia Gibb and David Weekly also contributed their considerable smarts to this article.

What we’re saying here is basically that innovation and original design work is certainly not limited to university and corporate research settings. This isn’t a competitive threat, it’s awesome for all of us! Open-source hackerly devices like Arduino, Xbees, Makerbots, etc. are making it much easier to create cool tangible interfaces than it was when I started out back in 2004, so we can focus on great interaction design instead of trying to be electrical engineers (which we’re not).

We wrote about Open Source Hardware and hackerspaces in particular. While one is about licensing and the other is about physical space, both of these things allow for the dissemination, development and maturing of good ideas among researchers, professionals, hobbyists, community members, and all kinds of smart and motivated people from a variety of backgrounds.

So this doesn’t just make things easier for professional researchers in tangibles and in interaction design, it means that small-businesses and hobbyists are increasingly turning towards custom-made tangible, spatial, in-the-world interactions. Which is just how we like it.

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