What’s happening?


So – online it is — Zoom class version of Understanding Users. Welcome brave souls, let’s proceed. Given the national situation, I suspect we’ll be doing this next semester too. It’s a new world, with the same old human frailties making sure of this. Will universities think about reducing tuition? I mean they’re shifting the cost of delivery to the domestic internet infrastructure provided by faculty members and students, so there’s room here. Let’s see what contortions ensue.

After 15 years as Dean of the School of Information, I returned to life as a faculty member here 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, human behavior, and social justice. I hold a PhD in Psychology from Loughborough University, an an M.A. (1st class) from University College Cork.  

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 co-editor of Information & Culture (we’re broadening the scope and want your papers!)

Read my InfoMatters blog to get some of my latest words on all matters information-related. Just did a short piece for Gizmodo on internet censorship around the globe.

My major new focus for the next year or more is a book examining the nature of users. 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. Let’s design for that! 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 produce, service or environment from a UX perspective. Sharpen your design critiques, 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.

Advisees – FAQ

If you are my advisee, 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.
  2. There are no right and 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.
  3. Take your core class early, if you can, but don’t panic if you miss it first time around. Ideally however, 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. Yes, you are welcome in it, there are no pre-requisites or expectations for technical or research skills. You will learn as you go.
  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 (see 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 visits, recruiter visits, social events and more. Much of your professional education will occur outside of the classroom but only you can chose to receive this.
  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

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.

Dillon, A. (In press) Design Thinking and Social Capital. Chapter accepted for The Social Future of Academic Libraries, T. Schlak, S. Corrall and P. Bracke (Eds) Facet. To be published spring, 2021.

Gwizdka, J, Zhang, Y., and Dillon, A. (2019) Using Eye Tracking Methods to Study Consumer Online Health Information Search Behavior. Journal of Information Management. 71, 6, 739-754

Dillon, A. Users. Book under contract with Routledge, to be published 2021.

Dillon, A. (2017) Theory for design: the case of reading. In D. Sonnewald (ed) Theory Development in the Information Sciences, Austin: UT Press, 222-238.

Dillon, A. (2017) Applying science to design: the quest for the bridging representation. In A. Black, P. Luna, O. Lund and S. Walker. (eds) Information Design: Research and Practice, Gower. 2017. 291-299.