Panel: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots [Programmers v. Users: The Culture War]
Town and Country Room
Thursday, 13:30, 1 hour 30 minutes
Mary Beth Rosson
Who came first --- the user or the programmer? Without programmers, there would be no programs for people to use. Without users, there wouldn't be anyone to pay programmers to write their programs.
In the 1980s, Alan Kay's dream was that object-orientation could bridge the gap between programmers and users. Programs would simulate the world they were suppose to model. Doing with Images would make Symbols. Programming would become the recreation of choice for children of all ages.
But in 2005, the gap between users and programmers is as large as ever. We've got our Dynabooks, but we don't want to be programmers: we just want to play Grand Theft Auto. The manifestos for the latest fads in programing --- XML, Agile Development, and Advanced Separation of Concerns --- make absolutely no mention of users, just programmers and the business people paying for the software. Meanwhile enrollment in Western computer science and software engineering courses continues to decline.
What does it mean to be a user or a programmer now that all our lives are shaped by software?
Jeff Patton: Jeff Patton has designed and developed software for the past 10 years on a wide variety of projects from on-line aircraft parts ordering to electronic medical records. Since working on an XP team in 2000, Jeff has been heavily involved in agile methods. In particular Jeff has focused on the application of user centered design techniques on agile projects resulting leaner more collaborative forms of traditional UCD practices. Jeff has found that adding UCD thinking to agile approaches of incremental development and story card writing not only makes those tasks easier but results in much higher quality software. Some of his recent writing on the subject can be found at www.abstractics.com/papers and in Alistair Cockburn's Crystal Clear. Jeff's currently a proud employee of ThoughtWorks, an active board member of the Agile Alliance, and founder and list moderator of the agile-usability discussion group on Yahoo Groups.
Brian Foote: Brian Foote has been programming professionally since the dawn of the Carter Administration, mostly in the service of academic researchers of various stripes. The idiosyncratic demands of these kinds of users played a major role in shaping his perspectives on software design. A consequence of his protracted association with this community was a chronic case of the Stockholm Syndrome, which resulted in his occasional forays into research areas as varied as object-oriented programming, design, reflection, FORTRAN, the Grateful Dead, software architecture, patterns, Photran, Smalltalk, CLOS, metalevel architecture, circumlocution, and software devolution.
Mary Beth Rosson: Mary Beth Rosson is Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at The Pennsylvania State University. She received a PhD in experimental psychology in 1982 from the University of Texas. Prior to joining the new School of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State in 2003, she was a professor of computer science at Virginia Tech for 10 years and a research staff member and manager at IBM?s T. J. Watson Research Center for 11 years. Rosson was among the earliest researchers to study the psychological issues associated with the object-oriented paradigm, and spent many years developing and evaluating object-oriented tools and training for professional programmers. One of her abiding interests has been the interplay between the concerns of human-computer interaction and software engineering. Recently she has been studying the tools and practices of end-user developers in educational and general business contexts. Rosson has participated in the OOPSLA conference in many capacities, as a member of the technical program committee as well as the conference committee; she introduced the OOPSLA Educators? Symposium in 1992, the Doctoral Consortium in 1994, and served as General Chair for OOPSLA 2000. She is also active in the ACM SIGCHI community, where she is General Chair for CHI 2007. Rosson is author of Usability Engineering: Scenario-Based Development of Human-Computer Interaction (Morgan Kaufmann, 2002) as well as numerous articles, book chapters, and tutorials. More information is available at http://ist.psu.edu/rosson.
Evan Adams: Evan Adams is a software developer at Google. He has been developing software for over two decades. Evan has recently focused on user experience. He has observed that, given the current state of the industry, expecting software developers to produce highly-usable software is absurd; somewhat like expecting the cat to do the laundry. Usability has become a key differentiator in the marketplace. Highly usable software will survive, clumsy software will not. Topics like object-oriented programming and agile methodologies have their place in software development but do not address the fundamental issues necessary to produce highly usable software.