User (Human) Experience is a topic in HCI focused on understanding the connection between people's intentions, emotions, the different variables of a "contextualized activity" and interaction with technology. Currently, the HCI field is rich in discourse and research on user experience, drawing upon several other disciplines such as psychology and sociology as we seek to understand the intersection between people and technology; and how technology can continually enrich lives and provide and/or support meaningful interaction and experiences.
To further discuss human experience, a quote from Ben Schneiderman, one of the pioneers of HCI and current professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, states "successful technologies are those that are in harmony with users' needs. They must support relationships and activities that enrich the users' experiences."
So once again, technology is seen as a support, a facilitator of an already existing human state. In my previous blog post, I mentioned that people do things for their own reasons and not the reasons that you give them. Additionally, we have to understand that the reasons people do things are connected to their emotional needs and states. People do things that align with how they are feeling at a certain moment, or how they would like to feel in a future moment. Although I do little justice in explaining the true essence of user experience in the previous sentence, I believe that most, if not all conscious human action can be framed within context of an emotive experience. This makes the study of human experience a difficult one due to the very subjective nature of people, emotion, and interaction. Maybe this is the reason why the HCI field in general is not used to dealing with the topic of human experience, as mentioned by McCarthy and Wright.
Don Norman, one of the early pioneers for User Experience, states that many everyday tasks are opportunistic and not planned. He goes on to state that "opportunistic actions are those in which the behavior takes advantage of the circumstances. Rather than engage in extensive planning and analysis, the person goes about the day's activities and performs the intended action if the relevant opportunity arises." Now this is hard to replicate in a traditional scientific lab environment and it is what makes the design of meaningful interactive technologies a relatively difficult task.
I believe that at this intersection (of people, experience, and technology), HCI thrives as a field in expanding and contracting upon its own and related fields' research, and offering insights and design implications for interactive technologies.