[SIGCIS-Members] Ph.D. scholarships in history of User Interfaces at IT University of Copenhagen
Anker Helms Jørgensen
anker at itu.dk
Mon Mar 16 08:03:12 PDT 2009
Please pass this announcement to relevant parties.
Thanks – Anker Helms Jorgensen, IT University of Copenhagen.
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At the IT University of Copenhagen (ITU) a considerable number of
Ph.D. study scholarships are offered in a broad range of areas within
IT, among these User Interface History.
The PhD will last three years and will commence in the fall 2009. The
scholarships are fully funded. The applicants are expected to submit
a max. 5 page research proposal. The application deadline is April
16. For further detail see below.
User interface history
To the best of my knowledge, no historians have yet embarked on user
interface history, although user interfaces are as old as digital,
electronic computers. So far only researchers from Human-Computer
Interaction and Media Studies have addressed their history. This PhD
call aims at attracting applicants with a degree in history of
techology or history of computing.
ITU and history
ITU offers the PhD scholarships although ITU does not have a study
program in technology history. The reputation of ITU in this area is
limited, but history is considered important at the ITU. The PhD
student will be supervised by me (Anker Helms Jorgensen) who in
recent years has done research in history of user interfaces.
Although being a relative newcomer in history of computing, I have
substantial experience in PhD supervision as I have supervised 11
PhDs - at the ITU and University of Copenhagen - in HCI, virtual
worlds, and video games.
My approach to user interface history
The background to my interest in user interface history interest is
threefold. Firstly, my activities in HCI as researcher, teacher and
practitioner for three decades. As time passes, interest in the past
often surfaces. Secondly, user interfaces are coming of age and I
find that the time is ripe to address their history – just like the
history of computers and computing has been addressed for several
decades. Many papers and books address selected aspects of HCI
history and user interface history – some in great depth – but only a
handful of papers address user interface/HCI history in general.
Written mostly by HCI scholars, their historiographic genre must be
considered internalistic - with a few exceptions. Thirdly, the
generation growing up seems to have very little knowledge about
historical aspects of user interfaces - and computing for that
matter. I would like to help remedy this by creating more focus on
user interface history.
My aim is to adopt a contextual approach as this seems timely and
most beneficial. My recent paper “Context and Driving Forces in the
Development of the Early Computer Game Nimbi”, appearing in the July
issue of IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, illustrates this
approach. The key point is that early gaming was far more than
entertainment and invoved organisational and social aspects such as
educating the general public about the potential of computers.
In addition, my approach to user interface history is “history from
below”. This contrasts current studies, most of which address the
development of the predominant graphical user interface and the
influence of early visionaries such as Vannevar Bush, Douglas
Engelbart and Alan Kay, i.e. a “history from above” approach.
Examples of “from below” projects are plugboard programming,
portraits of user interface designers of the 1960s, the role of the
pervasive IBM 3270 display protocol, and the user interface of
WordPerfect (a loved and hated word processor of the 1980s).
Applicants are expected to submit a maximum 5 page project proposal.
I’m more than willing to help potential applicants write a convincing
We expect that successful applicants have earned a MA in Technology
History, History, or similar.
The deadline is April 16 at noon Danish time.
For further detail please visit
Please don’t hesitate to contact me for further information:
anker at itu.dk, phone: +45 72 18 50 20.
Anker Helms Jorgensen
Associate Professor, PhD
IT University of Copenhagen
Rued Langgaardsvej 7
DK-2300 Copenhagen S Denmark
anker at itu.dk http://www1.itu.dk/sw4489.asp
+45 72 18 50 00
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