Alan Blackwell - Professional and Teaching

I am involved in a number of activities and research groups that are relevant to my research.


I am co-director of Crucible, the Cambridge University network for research in interdisciplinary design. Its purpose is to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration of technologists with researchers in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AH&SS).

New Dynamics of Ageing

I am a member of the advisory board for the cross-council research programme New Dynamics of Ageing and coordinate discussion among the Age and Meaning projects that take their research lead from arts and humanities perspectives.

HCI 2009

I was co-chair (with Ken Wood) of the British Computer Society HCI conference HCI 2009, which was located in Cambridge.


I carry out direct consultancy and commercial research for a wide range of companies, ranging from long-term strategic work for international corporations such as Microsoft, Boeing, Sony, Hitachi and Orange to contract design projects and advice for small and medium-sized enterprises in the Cambridge area (including Symbian, nCipher, AlertMe, ArQule pharmaceuticals, Domino Printing Services and others).

Critical Dialogue

I was one of the organisers of a workshop entitled "Critical Dialogue: Interaction, Experience and Cultural Theory", that was held in association with CHI 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.


I am a member of the advisory board for the Cultures of the Digital Economy (CoDE) research institute at Anglia Ruskin University.

HCI and Design Teaching

I teach the final year course on Human Computer Interaction in the Computer Laboratory, a first year Software Design paper, and a postgraduate diploma course on Software Engineering and Design. I also coordinate (with Ross Anderson) second year group design projects, and have taught experimental courses in design oriented Java programming for computer scientists, Information Architecture for architects, and Humanities Computing for languages students. I occasionally appear as a guest lecturer for schools of arts and design, teaching cross-disciplinary perspectives on practice-based research degrees.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

I am one of the coordinators of the Cambridge programme for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (UROP).

Cognitive Dimensions

With Thomas Green. Marian Petre and others, I have spent some years conducting and coordinating research into the Cognitive Dimensions of Notations usability framework. Most recently (2006) I edited a special issue of the journal JVLC, arising from an earlier research workshop that I chaired on the topic. Working with others, I have prepared a variety of textbook chapters, research reviews and tutorials on the topic. I maintain (sporadically) a long-term archive of material related to Cognitive Dimensions.


I am on the management committee of CARET, the Cambridge Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies.

Cambridge Philosophical Society

I am a member of the Council of the Cambridge Philosophical Society.

New Dynamics of Ageing

I am a member of the advisory board for the The New Dynamics of Ageing programme: a seven year multidisciplinary research initiative with the ultimate aim of improving quality of life of older people. The programme is a unique collaboration between five UK Research Councils - ESRC, EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC and AHRC, with a total value over £20 million.


I am an Associate Editor of the Journal of Visual Languages and Computing.

Living East

I am a member of the board of the non-departmental policy body Living East, responsible to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for cultural coordination (across the arts, sport, heritage, museums and libraries, tourism etc) in the East of England.

Crucible/Microsoft HCI Reading Group

I organise a monthly journal-reading group dedicated to review and critique of recent theoretical developments in human-computer interaction.

Cambridge MIT Institute

In 2001/02 I was a Fellow of the Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI). CMI is a strategic alliance to undertake education and research designed to improve the UK's competitiveness, productivity and entrepreneurship and is funded by both the UK government and industry.


I convened, with David Mackay, the 17th Darwin College Lecture Series for 2002, with eight internationally renowned speakers considering the theme of Power from a range of perspectives.


I am an Academic Associate of the consultancy practice Genspire Ltd.


I was a member of the steering group, as well as local host, for CODE, an international conference on Collaboration and Ownership in the Digital Economy, which was held in Cambridge on 4th-6th April 2001.

Humanities Computing for Languages

I teach on the Cambridge Certificate in Humanities Computing for Languages (CHUCOL), providing modules on the languages of data and computing, and the design of digital culture.

Information Architecture

I was an affiliated lecturer of the Cambridge University Moving Image Studio until the closure of (CUMIS), their Master's course on Architecture and the Moving Image. My contributions were on the topic of Information Architecture. The material for those seminars is online.

Conference and Workshop Programme Committees

MONET Summer School

I was one of the tutors at a MONET summer school on Model-Based Systems and Qualitative Reasoning in Bertinoro (Italy) on May 15-19 2000.

PoP Tasks:

As a (hopefully useful) service to other people working in Psychology of Programming, I have compiled a list of tasks that people have used during PoP experiments. I rely on contributions by email so that the list will keep growing.

Darwin College:

I am the official Information Architect for Darwin College, coordinating maintenance and setting policy for the Web Site. I also serve on the Education & Research committee and chair the College computing committee.

HCI Projects

I supervise a number of student projects, on topics related to diagrammatic reasoning, visual notations and cognitive dimensions.

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