There is no unified concept of an HCI professional. In the 1980s, the cognitive science side of HCI was sometimes contrasted with the software tools and user interface side of HCI. The landscape of core HCI concepts and skills is far more differentiated and complex now. HCI academic programs train many different types of professionals: user experience designers, interaction designers, user interface designers, application designers, usability engineers, user interface developers, application developers, technical communicators/online information designers, and more. And indeed, many of the sub-communities of HCI are themselves quite diverse. For example, ubiquitous computing (aka ubicomp) is subarea of HCI, but it is also a superordinate area integrating several distinguishable subareas, for example mobile computing, geo-spatial information systems, in-vehicle systems, community informatics, distributed systems, handhelds, wearable devices, ambient intelligence, sensor networks, and specialized views of usability evaluation, programming tools and techniques, and application infrastructures. The relationship between ubiquitous computing and HCI is paradigmatic: HCI is the name for a community of communities.
The contingent trajectory of HCI as a project in transforming human activity and experience through design has nonetheless remained closely integrated with the application and development of theory in the social and cognitive sciences. Even though, and to some extent because the technologies and human activities at issue in HCI are continually co-evolving, the domain has served as a laboratory and incubator for theory. The origin of HCI as an early case study in cognitive engineering had an imprinting effect on the character of the endeavor. From the very start, the models, theories and frameworks developed and used in HCI were pursued as contributions to science: HCI has enriched every theory it has appropriated. For example, the GOMS (Goals, Operations, Methods, Selection rules) model, the earliest native theory in HCI, was a more comprehensive cognitive model than had been attempted elsewhere in cognitive science and engineering; the model human processor included simple aspects of perception, attention, short-term memory operations, planning, and motor behavior in a single model. But GOMS was also a practical tool, articulating the dual criteria of scientific contribution plus engineering and design efficacy that has become the culture of theory and application in HCI. 2b1af7f3a8