Finally, after 2 years in the making, Interacting with Geospatial Technologies is out. It is the first textbook dedicated to usability and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) aspects of geographical information technologies. It covers desktop, Web and mobile applications and how they can be designed so they are more effective, efficient, error-free, easy to learn and enjoyable, which is one version of the 5 E’s of usability.
I started thinking about the book in 2004, when I realised that the most recent academic books dedicated to HCI and GIS were published in 1993 and 1995. These are respectively David Medyckyj-Scott and Hilary Hearnshaw’s Human Factors in Geographic Information Systems and the collection of papers from the NATO workshop Cognitive Aspects of Human-Computer Interaction for Geographic Information Systems, edited by Tim Nyerges, David Mark, Robert Laurini, and Max Egenhofer. While these books and the collections of papers in them are still valuable, it must be noted that in the early 1990s, Web-based GIS was just starting to appear, desktop GIS was fairly basic, mobile GIS was not even experimental and GIS trade journals argued about which UNIX workstation is the best for GIS.
Apart from these books, the proceedings of COSIT (Conference of Spatial Information Theory) are also valuable sources of academic research on spatial cognition and other principles of geographical and spatial information, and there are also many papers in academic journals about GIS.
However, not much attention was paid to everyday use of geographical information technologies, and no textbook included an introduction in a form accessible to postgraduate students and software developers. So, after complaining in various conferences that there is a clear need for such a book, I started working on it. It was an interesting process to identify suitable authors and encourage them to contribute to the book.
While offering the breadth of several authors who specialise in different aspects of the field, I think the textbook is coherent and consistent, and its style both accessible and readable. The editing process was more active and time-sensitive than is often the case in academic books, to ensure that the textbook is usefully up-to-date. On UCL’s MSc in GIS, a recent course based on the textbook was well received by students.
The book covers the principles and the practical aspects of interaction with geospatial technologies. There are sections about spatial cognition, cartography, user-centred design and usability engineering – here is the table of contents.
So, now you can get your own copy – and any feedback is welcomed.