What’s happening?

I’m back teaching in classrooms (thankfully) but I’m not sure many faculty got the message about returning to work as hybrid and virtual meetings now seem a regular part of our working arrangements. Am teaching my Writing Studio every Spring semester and my Understanding Users course every Fall. Note to students or applicants: Please don’t write asking me for a TA position or to be admitted to the PhD program- these processes are handled centrally by the administration, not by individual faculty. Go through the iSchool website to learn how it all works, you’ll get better answers there.

My research over the last year or two has concentrated on my recent book examining the nature of users (it is now available here). I want to us to rethink user-centered design to consider the full human experience, from physical to social, and this book will explain my argument for the ‘vertical slice’ through the layers of boundaries in social science. We are all physical, perceptual, cognitive, social and cultural beings in one material form living in a hybrid physical and digital space. Let’s design for that! Just putting the final touches on the contract for my next book, on the human desire to collect, and the infrastructure and human foibles that emerge around this – more on this as I firm it up. You can get a taste of what I am developing in this recent article for Art Basel on why people collect. Am I now a monograph author exclusively? I don’t think so but it’s where my mind is at the moment.

After 15 years as Dean of the School of Information, I returned to life as a faculty member, joyfully, in 2018. I study humans and the emerging information infrastructure, with the goal of shaping information space to serve humans better. My work engages design, augmenting human behavior, and advancing more inclusive and socially acceptable information spaces. I earned a PhD in Psychology from Loughborough University, and my B.A (Double Hons.) and M.A. (1st class) from University College Cork.  I hold the V.M. Daniel Professorship here in the iSchool as well as appointments in Psychology and the School of Business. I also serve on the Faculty Advisory Board of IC2 at UT.

Prior to life in Texas, I was a founding faculty member of the School of Informatics at Indiana University and a Research Fellow at Loughborough. I serve on the editorial boards of Journal of Documentation, Interacting with Computers, and am now editor of Information & Culture (we’ve broadened the scope and want your papers, so contact me!)

Read my InfoMatters blog to get some of my latest words on all matters information-related.

More about me and my work can be found in the links below, feel free to reach out. Email is my preferred channel – adillon @ ischool.utexas.edu

[LinkedIn] [GoogleScholar][ResearchGate]


INF 382C Understanding Users

Overview of user-centered approaches to the design and deployment of information products and services, the psychology of user behavior and experience, and the methods employed to identify reliable and valid guidance from users. Learn to evaluate every information product, service or environment from a UX perspective. Sharpen your design critiques, use theory and data to improve designs, and learn how to understand why users think and behave as they do. Every information graduate needs these skills.

INF 391G Writing Studio

For doctoral students and pre-approved masters students completing thesis credits, this is a hands-on writing and reviewing workshop that demands continual submission and critical reviewing of each others work. Learn to write better by doing it, weekly, and getting and providing  constant feedback. Conduct a formal review of a real journal article and observe how others review and how editors handle the process. This is a studio environment, we learn by doing.

Advisees – FAQ

If you are my advisee (or just an interested applicant or student) let me offer some general guidance for you as you enter the iSchool and start to navigate course selection and career planning.

  1. It is really worth your time to read the student handbook and familiarize yourself with the iSchool website. Most questions about student regulations and expectations are answered there. And you’re an information student, right?
  2. There are no right or wrong courses to take. Each of you is an individual with your own aspirations and goals so don’t become locked into thinking you must have X or Y course in order to succeed. This is almost never the case. Develop your knowledge and skills.
  3. Take your core class early, if you can, but don’t panic if you miss it first time around. Ideally, don’t wait until the last semester to take it.
  4. My Understanding Users class is an orientation to user-centered design thinking that is relevant to any professional career you wish to enter. Yes, we cover lots of UX but it’s a broader user-centered class for all information professionals. Regardless of career aim, you are welcome in it, there are no pre-requisites or expectations for technical or research skills. You will learn as you go. I also do not require group projects.
  5. You can learn a lot from other students, from the events outside the classes, but if you really have a question about a class, ask the faculty instructor directly – they are all happy to help.
  6. You don’t need special permission (or even mine!) to take a class. There are regulations on the number and level of outside courses you can take (read the handbook!) but within the rules, you have many choices. I can advise but I don’t dictate. Ultimately it’s your education.
  7. The time goes quickly – take advantage of everything this school offers by making the effort to get to research talks, job fairs, alumni and recruiter visits, social events and more. Much of your professional education will occur outside the walls of a classroom but only you can choose to receive this. It’s your degree program.
  8. Our program is unfashionably personal and F2F. I hold regular office hours for my students so come see me sometime so we can get to know each other.

Recent and forthcoming publications

Dillon, A. (2024) Why do people collect? The psychologist’s view. Art Basel, Jan 2024.

Schloss, I. and Dillon, A. (2024) Shaping the Future of Therapy: A Call for the Involvement of Information Scholars in Designing Digital Tools for Mental Health. Canadian Association for Information Science Annual Conference, CAIS 2024, July.

Suzuki, T., Dillon, A. and Fleischman, K. (2024)  Exploring the Intersection of Digital Placemaking and Information Science in Smart Cities, Canadian Association for Information Science Annual Conference, CAIS 2024, July.

Dillon, A. (2023) Understanding Users: Designing Experience through Layers of Meaning. New York: Routledge.

Dillon, A. (2022) REAL Design: Respecting Experience, Augmenting Life. ACM SIGHCI 2022 HCIxB: Across Borders Workshop, April, 2022.

Dillon, A. (2022) Outsourcing our judgements: the trouble with metrics for faculty evaluations. Canadian Association of Information Science Annual Conference, CAIS 2022, June.

Dillon, A. (2022) Design as an accelerator of social capital in academic libraries. Chapter in The Social Future of Academic Libraries: New Perspectives on Communities, Networks, and Engagement T. Schlak, S. Corrall and P. Bracke (Eds) London: Facet.  2022.

Resmini, A. with Andrew Dillon (2021) On being magpies, in Resmini et al, Advances in Information Architecture, Springer, 39-51.

Ayon, V. and Dillon, A. (2021) Assistive Technology in Education: Conceptions of a Socio-technical Design Challenge. International Journal of Information, Diversity and Inclusion, 5, 2, 174-184.

Gwizdka J., Dillon A. (2020) Eye-Tracking as a Method for Enhancing Research on Information Search. In: Fu W., van Oostendorp H. (eds) Understanding and Improving Information Search. Human–Computer Interaction Series. Springer,

Dillon, A. (2019) Collecting as routine human behavior: personal identity and control in the material and digital world.  Information and Culture, 54 (3) 255-280.

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