Prototype of city square that creates music when city-goers run around the moving circular "tracks" of a giant turntable and camera tracking turns their arm gestures into music beats per audio track (image by Danish architect at our MAB workshop in 2012, Aarhus).
Actually this is more a plea.
Consider this imagined scenario. You are an academic having coffee with a colleague. They do interaction “design-y” stuff and you ask them what they are working on. When they give you a broad overview of the technology and interaction, you might say”Well, that is all well and good but I need to research practical and useful things.” If they know what your focus (
tunnel vision) is on, chances are they will then explain how a modification or redirection of the interaction design they were just describing will allow you and your content to do X. “Oh, that I can use” you might say.
Just hold on a minute here. They described an application, tool or service with more generic potential, and then had to use their creative imagination that you didn’t bother tapping into, to show how it could work for you. After you had poured mild scorn on their research. Seems to me they had the brainpower to
a. come up with a generically useful, hopefully transferable idea, concept, tool..
b. be able to summarize your research
c. understand how this new idea, concept or tool could apply to your context in a way that you could understand, AND
d. not be offended that you still didn’t grasp the exemplar they provided you was only a subset of what they had invented to start with.
I am not sure step d would happen though. And I wouldn’t blame the interaction designer if they didn’t have coffee with you again.