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August 05, 2007

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First off, I'd like to just say that I think you're putting some great information out there, and I really appreciate your obvious passion for putting usability priniciples to work.

As an experimental psychologist and former academic, I have every respect for the important work that goes on in the laboratory, but I left academia out of a desire to apply what I'd learned. If all of us were researchers, we might produce a lot of good information, but what's the point if no one's putting it to use?

More to the point, I find the idea that only scientists can understand and appreciate usability to be not only arrogant, but completely contrary to the point. We don't get to mandate usability from the mountaintop; the users decide what they like. We can filter that and seek to understand them in controlled settings, but we also have to shut up and listen once in a while.

I'm actually frustrated that there aren't MORE user experience blogs. Or I might be frustrated that finding the user experience blogs that already exist is so difficult (I won't know which is the case until I find out whether there's a bunch of hidden blogs).

Side rant: In the early days of blogs it was considered rude to have a blog without a blogroll. I see too many blogs nowadays without it. It makes it much more difficult to find good blogs. Thanks for doing one, Joshua.

Anyway, here's the thing about blogs. When I first started in UX, every problem I encountered was a completely novel problem... to me. So what did I do? Sometimes I "invented" my own solution. Sometimes I asked my more experienced colleagues for advice. I rarely, if ever, went to the internet for help. As time went by, the number of problems I had encountered and the number of solutions I had attempted skyrocketed. And, like most UXers, I discovered that this is a HARD job. And the rate of problems I encounter remains constant.

Blogs provide a way for me to discover how other people have dealt with problems that I haven't encountered yet. It allows me to learn without the pain of experience. And, I hope, I'm doing the same thing with my blog - someone else might learn from my particular experiences. Is there a lot of repetition of the same points? I suppose. But everyone has the own perspective, and I think nuance is interesting.

As for empirical evidence versus commentary... pffft! <- raspberries

Hi Josh,

The critics are missing the point. Blogs are... erm... social networking tools too! Heck, I met you blogging!

Blogging also helps us develop as a community in an relatively new industry that lacks a decent amount of rigorous academic literature.

Perhaps if usability had been practiced more broadly for a longer time, and academia (and IT and business) gave it the airtime it deserves then we would have more literature to 'QUOTE'. We don't, so we'll CREATE IT ourselves based on experience!!

From a personal perspective, blogs are also tools for mental stimulation. I talked about Aerobics for the mind on my blog http://usableworld.terapad.com/index.cfm?fa=contentNews.newsDetails&newsID=27808&from=list&directoryId=5253

From a selfish perspective blogs help me:
- Be more considerate
- Think
- Create
- Challenge
- Memorise
- productively waste time

I now can't do without it! I'd rather blog that watch TV!

Also, I don't have time to write an y more theses! I have already written two and now I am using that knowledge to make this world a better place (and earn $)!

Oh, and information overload is bollocks - they need to earn about RSS...

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