CHI Preview: Brian Dorn and Graphics Designers as Programmers

April 12, 2010 at 9:41 pm 3 comments

Tomorrow morning, Brian Dorn is presenting a paper at the Computer-Human Interaction (CHI2010) conference on one of the studies for his dissertation.  Brian is studying graphics designers who have taught themselves to program, whether to automate Photoshop or to work with the Web.  In his past studies, he’s explored who these designers-turned-programmers are and what kinds of programming they do — and what kind of computer science they don’t know but could use.

In this paper, he’s trying to characterize how they go about learning programming.  What do they know, and how do they get it?  What is it that they find hard about computing? The answer is related to the issue of identity that’s come up a few times in the last week.  These graphics designers don’t define themselves as computer scientists.  Some of them have tried computer science classes, but mostly reject them.  They use Internet resources that fit with their model of themselves, as application users on the periphery of computer science.

Brian is building on these results in his next and final study.  (He’s already accepted a position at the University of Hartford for the fall.)  He’s designed a case library that provides the kind of computing knowledge that they could use (but might not recognize), in the form of Internet resources that they use and trust now.  Can he draw these end users into learning more about computer science (the stuff that he now knows they find hard but might find valuable) by carefully designing around the things they already use?

If you’re here in Atlanta for CHI2010 (and lucky if you are — we’re having fabulous weather this week!), do go check out Brian’s talk and paper!

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