How Is Autobiographical
By definition, autobiographical
design refers to intensive self-
usage as part of design research,
and all of our experts but one
had engaged in such design.
Sometimes the researcher was
part of a design team that had all
used the system; sometimes only
some team members had used the
system; and sometimes a research-
er worked alone. In one case (Tom
Erickson’s), the researcher was
the sole user of the system, but in
all others, researchers used the
system with their work group,
alongside other users, or with their
families. Some drew on self-usage
throughout the design process,
while others did so in the initial
stages of design before moving on
to test with other users once their
system was stable.
Gregory Abowd, Interactive
Computing, Georgia Tech
Focused on a system, Abaris, designed for his own autistic son and used for four months. He also
talked about systems for classrooms and home-video browsing.
Dan Cosley, Information
Science, Cornell University
Described a memory system called Pensieve that was built for his personal needs.
IBM T.J. Watson
Discussed Proteus, a digital notebook that he designed for his personal needs and used for five years.
University of London
Described how he designed and used the Video Window, a media space for Gaver and his family, for
Focused on a media space for collaborative design called the Draw Stream Station, which was used for
several months. Also discussed the design of the original media space and its use over the course of
University of Calgary
Described how he has designed and used his own personal “media space” for remote student interaction
over the course of four years. Also talked about photo browsing and programming toolkits.
University of Saskatchewan
Discussed a groupware programming toolkit that he and his students have been iterating on and using for
IBM T.J. Watson
Described how the communication system Babble was designed and used by her group for five years
and then deployed to others.
Media Lab, MIT
Designs were inspired from his own experiences, but he never used any. Thus, there was no focal system
Described Cyclopath, a geowiki for bicycle-route navigation, which he designed for himself during his
Ph.D. research and used for several years.
November + December 2012
Psychology, UC Santa Cruz
Discussed the design and use of ScanMail, a voicemail annotation system, over a period of 18 months
and also its subsequent third-party evaluation.
• Table 1. Interview respondents and described systems.