Tuesday, February 4, 2014


The particular area of technology I specialize in is called HCI, an unfortunately unpronounceable acronym for human-computer interaction. This refers to understanding and designing the way people use computers, so that inept users don’t slow the computers down too much.

The Association for Computer Machinery (itself a weirdly named organization!) reversed the first two letters, so that its special interest group on interaction is called CHI. This is usually pronounced simply ki, to rhyme with “pie.” Some prefer to pronounce CHI as if it were a Greek letter, sounding like someone having to greet a colleague while in the middle of gagging. And I suppose others pronounce it like “chai,” the spicy tea.

But even the term “computer” is becoming obsolete. Or, more accurately, redundant. Everything’s a computer these days … phones … GPSes … cameras … come to think of it, everything’s a phone. But seriously, “computer” includes just about every consumer product. So really, it’s HTI … human-technology interaction.

Then the Association for Computing Machinery (and Its Users?) can call it THI.

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