Dr. Ben Shneiderman comes from a long line of artists, writers, and photographers. He has applied his own considerable professional creativity to building bridges between disciplines and staying decidedly eclectic in his interests and outlook. He loves finding 'driving problems' that need solving, which often means you'll see him dashing all over campus to talk to folks in other departments. Here he takes a break to talk about influences, rebellions, writing, and being a permanent graduate student.
Scientists are smart and capable, but they don't often choose the right problems. If you work on a real problem that somebody else cares about and that they come to you with, then you have a chance of producing a worthwhile solution that other people will actually put to work.
We're always thinking about ways in which we empower people to be more effective, more creative, and to make deeper insights. That is our focus. It's not the computer that does that, it's the person.
Ben Shneiderman is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and founding director of the Human Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland. Dr. Shneiderman has written some very influential books in the field, including but certainly not limited to Designing the User Interface: Effective Strategies for Human-Computer Interaction, which is now in its fourth edition, and Leonardo's Laptop: Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies.