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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Finding Noobie

noobie_at_hcil.jpg

With Ben Shneiderman and his lab coming to the fore of my mind again in anticipation of his recent talk at AARP, I went back to some photos I took at the May 2002 open house of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL) at the University of Maryland. It was in the offices of the lab that I discovered and photographed the ultimate home of Noobie, lab researcher Allison Druin's masters degree assignment from her mid-80s years at the MIT Media Lab. Noobie is a giant furry stuffed animal designed by a member of Jim Henson's workshop and augmented by a Macintosh computer in its belly. When Noobie was new, children could sit on his lap, squeeze his tail, move his arms or hug him to trigger switches that would cause the computer to display fictional animal designs. It was the making of Noobie that sparked Druin's ongoing interest in interaction design for children.

Noobie now sits quietly outside of Druin's office and seems to serve as the mascot for the Intergenerational Design Team's laboratory, which is essentially a technology playground at HCIL led by Druin to enable children to act as design partners in the lab's interaction design process. Seven children, ages seven to eleven, join computer researchers twice a week. The team delves into such things as how children might engage in collaborative storytelling in an electronic drawing tool and how a child who is too young to read might use a visual search engine.

That kids, guided by adult experts, can design technologies for the future, was not necessarily what left me most impressed during my tour of the lab. In this organized playland, scientific method accommodates the laughter of children at play to produce tools that offer delight before utility. This is a joyous display of design motive that is rare in the adult business world.

Try not to miss the lab's next open house in May or June 2004.

10:45 PM in Human-Computer Interaction | Permalink

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Finding Noobie:

» Kids Interaction Design from The Vanity Experiment
Finding Noobie over at CuriousLee. Lovely ideas around interaction design for Children. That kids, guided by adult experts, can design technologies for the future, was not necessarily what left me most impressed during my tour of the lab. In this... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2003 12:14:41 PM

» Kids Interaction Design from The Vanity Experiment
Finding Noobie over at CuriousLee. Lovely ideas around interaction design for Children. That kids, guided by adult experts, can design technologies for the future, was not necessarily what left me most impressed during my tour of the lab. In this... [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 17, 2003 12:14:44 PM

Comments

personally, i think noobie is damn scary looking. but then, i was also really freaked out by ALF as a little kid.

Posted by: tim at Oct 20, 2003 6:21:36 PM