Friday, October 20, 2006

Interview with Jan Chipchase, Nokia

HCI research at Nokia ...

"The discipline under the spotlight this month is Research, and the first guest is Jan Chipchase, Principal Researcher at Nokia, whose personal insights can be found on Future Perfect, Jan’s wonderful photo-intensive weblog. As he says: “… if I do my job right you’ll be using it 3 to 15 years from now.”

Hello Jan, thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to participate… and for being the first one too.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you found your current professional path?

I’m a member of the Mobile HCI Group in Nokia Research and have been living in and working from Tokyo for the last 5 and half years.

Soon after graduating I joined a team developing teaching software and pretty swiftly realized the limits of my design skills. That prompted me to sign up for a Masters in User Interface Design at London Guildhall University which led to a UI development job at the Institute for Learning and Research Technology before joining Nokia’s Usability Group and from there to my current position.

About 50% of my time is spent on field study related activities and 50% is spent on concept development.

Along the way there have been stints living in London, Berlin, Brighton and Bristol, a fair bit of travel and managing a small design company.
The general direction has been influenced by Guenter Wallraff, Weegee and Larry Clark.

A common experience with User Researchers is that they seem to be “always on”, detecting patterns and/or documenting all they see to fit it into existing research domains… or creating new ones on the go. If Future Perfect, your blog, is any indication you seem to confirm this impression.

Is this a natural trait needed for any effective (and passionate) researcher, or is it one of those “professional compulsory habits”?

This work certainly benefits from an element of continuous observation and assessment, but I don’t think being “always on” is particularly unique.

It’s common to meet researchers that are passionate about what they do, that don’t stop thinking about an issue just because they’re not sitting at a desk or in the lab.
I imagine you’d get a similar answer from an architect or fiction writer.

But if the opposite of being “always on” is “switching off”, how important is it to take time off? To understand and design for life it helps to have one yourself."    (Continued via Convivio Network)    [Usability Resources]

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