I am a part time PhD student in the Interaction Design Group at the University of Melbourne. My research builds on nearly 10 years of UX work as a researcher-practitioner in an academic library, and is focused on how we can support browsing for books online.
In 1996 Christine Borgman wrote that 'information retrieval is hard, because it requires us to describe information we don't have'--she was talking about the poor user experience of library catalogues. Catalogues have improved and books are moving online, but this has given rise to an odd popular obsession with the smell and feel of print books. I believe this obsession is based in part on the experience of finding books; you cannot wander the online stacks and be delighted by the serendipitous discovery of a book you didn't know you were looking for. Readers know this, and they complain about it.
Information retrieval is hard, because it requires us to describe information we don't haveChristine Borgman, 'Why Are Online Catalogs Still Hard to Use', JASIST 1996
Browsing, as we do at the library shelves, is a key part of the human information seeking process, but it has been the subject of little research and less support online. This is particularly surprising given the opportunities online information interfaces offer: online we can rearrange the shelves!
I am using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to understand readers' book discovery and browsing behaviours with a view to informing the design of online browsing systems. My research partners include Swinburne University of Technology (where my day job is) and the State Library of Victoria.
When I am neither working nor studying I can be found gaming frequent flier programmes in an attempt to visit family just that little bit more often, muttering at self checkout machines in the supermarket about their poor usability, playing board games, or de-stressing through exercise.
- McKay, D. and Buchanan, G., 2016. You Can Check It Out But It Will Never Leave: Characterising Ebook Borrowing Patterns. In Proc. CHIIR 2016 (Carrboro, North Carolina, USA, 2016), ACM, 203-212. DOI: 10.1145/2854946.2854970
- Parker, R. and McKay, D., 2016. It's the end of the world as we know it ... or is it? Looking beyond the new librarianship paradigm. In Marketing and Outreach for the Academic Library, B.L. Eden Ed. Rowman & Littlefield, New York, NY.
- McKay, D., Smith, W., and Chang, S., 2015. Down the superhighway in a single tome: Examining the impact of book format on borrowing interactions. In Proc. OzCHI 15 (Parkville, VIC, Australia, 2015), ACM, 517-525. DOI: 10.1145/2838739.2838766
- McKay, D., Awori, K., and Ferdous, H.S., 2015. Three is a Crowd? Our Experience of Testing Large-scale Social Software in a Usability Lab. In Proc. OZCHI 16 (Parkville, VIC, Australia, 2015), ACM, 407-411. DOI: 10.1145/2838739.2838827
- McKay, D. and Buchanan, G., 2015. The Pain of Crowds: Considering Wider Ethical Implications in Conference Planning and Review. In Proc. OzCHI 2015 'Workshop: Ethical Encounters: HCI Research in Sensitive and Complex Settings' (Parkville, VIC, Australia 2015).Workshop Website
- McKay, D., Buchanan, G., and Chang, S., 2015. Tyranny of Distance: Understanding Academic Library Browsing by Refining the Neighbour Effect. In Proc. TPDL 15 (Poznan, Poland, 2015), Springer, 280-294. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-24592-8_21
- Buchanan, G., McKay, D., and Levitt, J., 2015. Where My Books Go: Choice and Place in Digital Reading. In Proc. JCDL 15 (Knoxville, Tennessee, USA, 2015), ACM, 17-26. DOI 10.1145/2756406.2756917
- McKay, D. and Buchanan, G., 2014. On the Other Side from You: How Library Design Facilitates and Hinders Group Work. In Proc. OzCHI 14 (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2014), ACM, 97-106 DOI:/10.1145/2686612.2686625
- McKay, D., Smith, W., and Chang, S., 2014. Lend Me Some Sugar: Borrowing Rates of Neighbouring Books as Evidence for Browsing. In Proc. DL 14 (London, UK, 2014), 145-154. DOI: 10.1109/JCDL.2014.6970161
- McKay, D., 2014. Bend Me, Shape Me: a Practical Experience of Repurposing Research Data. In Proc. DL 14 (London, UK, 2014), IEEE Press, 399-402.DOI:10.1109/JCDL.2014.6970196
While I am not a librarian, I do care about people finding the information they need when they need it, and in the way that they prefer to find it. My career has been devoted to understanding how humans look for information and attempting to bend information systems to their will.
Since 2007 I have been working at Swinburne University of Technology as a UX researcher practitioner in the Library. I've been asking the questions that will allow us to make the library more user friendly, doing the research to find the answers and as far as possible implementing the results.
Other career highlights include analysing the usability of all three major players in the library search scene in 2007 in a consultancy for University of Melbourne Library, work exchange to the Usability Group at Nokia Research Centre in Finland in 2002 and co-authoring the Greenstone Developers Guide.
My full work history can be found in my LinkedIn profile.
- CHISIG Secretary 2014-
- OZCHI Workshops and Tutorials chair 2011-2015
- OZCHI Programme Committee 2011-
- JCDL Programme Committee 2014-
- TPDL Programme Committee 2012, 2014-
- iConference Programme Committee 2013, 2015, 2016
- CHIIR Programme Committee 2017
Selected Invited Talks
'If You're Lost You Can Look and You Will Find...Books?', School of Information Systems, Tampere, Finland, September 2015.
'Lend Me Some Sugar', The Information Retrieval General Reading Group, RMIT, Melbourne, Australia, October 2014
'The Invisible User: How Our Users Search When We Don't See It'. CAVAL Research and Information Group, Melbourne, Australia, May 2014
'Physical, Digital, Interactive, Human: More Tales from an Academic Library', Centre for HCI Design, City University London, UK March 2014.
'Questions, Answers and Looking Under Rocks: Doing Research in an Academic Library', University of Melbourne Library July 2012
'Physical, Digital, Interactive, Human: Tales from an Academic Library', Computer Science Seminar Series, University of Waikato, March 2011
'A View From the Other Side of the Desk: User Experience in the Library', Victorian Academic Library Association, July 2009
Scholarships and Awards
Google PhD Fellow in HCI, 2016
Google Travel Scholarship, 2014 and 2015
Springer Verlag student registration Scholarhip, DL 2014
Best Paper, OZCHI 2010
I speak fluent Finnish as a result of a student exchange and considerable subequent travel. At conferences I can be found looking for people with whom I can practice
I can read some MARC as a result of analysing library circulation data for my PhD
I have written two date extraction systems in Perl, one for data crosswalking in MARC, and one for historical dates
In my undergrad days I wrote a multitasking kernel and a prolog theorem prover in a single year