Austin Henderson

The Architecture of Interaction

Austin Henderson has done research in, designed, and developed architectures  of interaction between people and machines.  Starting with technology, drawn to those engaged with it, Austin has focused on how it may be possible to have technology be usability, usefulness, designable, evolvable, and supporting of good assumptions about the role of technology in our lives.

Austin Henderson‘s 45-year career in Human-Computer Interaction includes user interface research and architecture at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, Bolt Beranek and Newman, Xerox Research (both PARC and EuroPARC), Apple Computer, and Pitney Bowes, as well as strategic industrial design with Fitch and his own Rivendel Consulting & Design.

Austin has built both commercial and research applications in many domains including manufacturing, programming languages, air traffic control, electronic mail (Hermes), user interface design tools (Trillium), workspace management (Rooms, Buttons), distributed collaboration (MediaSpace), and user-evolvable systems (Tailorable – “design continued in use”, Pliant – “designing for the unanticipated”). These applications, and their development with users, have grounded his analytical work, which has included the nature of computation-based socio-technical systems, the interaction of people with the technology in those systems, and the practices and tools of their development. The primary goals of his work has been to better meet user needs, both by improving system development to better anticipate those needs, and by improving system capability to enable users themselves to better respond to unanticipated needs when they arise in a rich and changing world.

Rivendel Consulting & Design

Rivendel Consulting & Design offers consulting services in strategic design, product design, interaction design, and group effectiveness.


Austin has also been active in ACM/SIGCHI since 1983, including as conference chair (1985), and organization chair (1989-1993), where his concerns have been to engage a broad spectrum of perspectives in HCI across disciplines, work practices and cultures.

Scalable Conversations

Currently, Austin is retired, and living in Berkeley. However he continues to consult, and primarily he is actively engaged in Scalable Conversations exploring exploratory development – the application of the principles of evolution (as demonstrated by the practices of Open Source software development) broadly to human affairs.


Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests and vectors


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