Human-centered Computing

Human-centered computing (HCC) is an emerging, interdisciplinary academic field broadly concerned with computing and computational artifacts as they relate to the human condition. Researchers and practitioners who affiliate themselves with human-centered computing usually come from one or more of the following disciplines: computer science, sociology, psychology, cognitive science, anthropology, communication studies, graphic design, science and technology studies, and industrial design.

The term "human-centered computing" was first defined by Rob Kling and Susan Leigh Star in the paper "Human Centered Systems in the Perspective of Organizational and Social Informatics". According to Kling and Star, the key feature of human-centered computing systems is that "knowledge of human users and the social context in which systems are expected to operate become integrated into the computer science agenda, even at the earliest stages of research and development."

Research in human-centered computing has multiple goals. Some researchers focus on understanding humans, both as individuals and in social groups, by focusing on the ways that human beings adopt, adapt, and organize their lives around computational technologies. Others focus on developing new design strategies for computational artifacts. Human-centered design of computational tools attempts to address problems that traditional design approaches, such as heuristic evaluations and measurements of productivity and efficiency, do not generally address. Designing computational tools for spirituality, for fun, and for leisure are some examples of non-traditional design problems that are of interest to HCC researchers and engineers. HCC researchers also bring a diverse array of conceptual and research tools to traditional computing areas such as computer-supported cooperative work, computer-supported collaborative learning, and ubiquitous computing.

Human-centered computing is closely related to other interdisciplinary fields such as human-computer interaction and information science, and exactly where the boundaries between these fields lie is not clear. Broadly speaking, however, human-centered computing usually concerns itself with systems and practices of technology use. Human-computer interaction is more focused on ergonomics and the usability of computing artifacts, while information science is focused on practices surrounding the collection, manipulation, and use of information. The Human-Centered Computing program at the National Science Foundation is a combination of former programs in human-computer interaction, universal access (essentially human-computer interaction for the disabled and other special populations), and social informatics (social computing and social implications of computing).