I am starting a series call “Great minds of our time“ to share with you my personal picks of some of the great minds of our time. I’ve met with some of them and some of them once or a few times. Some have been my teachers. Some of them I’ve never met and never will as they have passed on. I have learned a lot from all of them by reading their writings (articles and/or books) and watching them presents. I am not ranking these great minds so I am just going to be talking about them one at a time.
In my humble opinion, Bill Buxton is one of the most creative minds of our time. Bill is “a designer and a researcher concerned with human aspects of technology” and he is currently a principal researcher at Microsoft Research. I have heard and known of Bill’s name since his early days at U of Toronto long long ago. But I don’t think I met him in person nor I really knew much about his research before. It was only since 2001 that I came to learn more about Bill’s work and how cool and how insightful he really is.
I still don’t know Bill personally so I am learning from his conference presentations (in person last year in Calgary) and also his writings (available online, including this digtal film discussion in 2004 TIFF). [2009 update: I got to meet Bill in 2007 (?) at University of Calgary and then at the 2008 nextMEDIA, I can say I know Bill a little now.]
Here are some of my favourites (this is a very small list as Bill’s site is worth exploring for its many treasures),
- “What if Leopold Didn’t Have a Piano?” (video webcast of the presentation given in 2005)
- “Innovation vs. Invention” (insightful article)
- Bill’s Alias Research Videos (these are great to watch)
- Bill’s Research Videos (also quite interesting to watch)
Dec 31, 2006 update: Bill Buxton has written a new book, “Sketching User Experiences“. Here is what he wrote about it. “The writing part of my book on design is finally finished and it is finally in production. It will be published by Morgan Kaufmann and launched at the annual ACM SIGCHI Conference  in San Jose, CA, April 28-May 3.” Here are more info in this two-page book flyer pdf file.
June 11, 2007 update: Bill’s new book “Sketching User Experiences” is out. I am going to try to get my hands on a copy.
April 1, 2009 update: Since I wrote the first draft of this blog entry, I have finally met Bill a few times now. He is as insightful in person as he appears on page and on videos. I highly recommend attending one of Bill’s talk or speech live if you can. Check out bill’s latest MIX09 Keynote video, highly recommended.