Dr.  Gilbert Cockton Digital Library

Based in Whitley Bay, United Kingdom
Gilbert Cockton


Gilbert Cockton has worked in Interaction Design for almost 40 years, beginning with design and implementation of e-learning programs as a high school teacher, followed by freelance games programming. These interests led him to pursue a PhD on User Interface Architectures and Specification. Much of his time since his PhD studentship has been spent working for and within businesses in the Scottish HCI Centre, for Bell Northern (now Nortel) research, MARI Computer Systems, Microsoft Research, several consultancy assignments and directing major regional digital sector support projects (Digital Media Network, CODEWORKS NITRO, HEFCE Digital CoKE). In the latter roles, he contributed to the establishment of the north east of England as a major UK centre of creative digital technology.

Gilbert’s Human-Computer Interaction research reflects his multidisciplinary background (Humanities and Applied Human Science bachelors and postgraduate degrees, Computer Science PhD, UK national NESTA fellowship on value-centred design). He has published on software architectures, specification notations, context of use research, accessibility, usability, user experience, e-learning, design theory, and approaches and resources for design work (including agile/lean). His main current interest is STEAM approaches to software design that balance and integrate creative, strategic and engineering perspectives. While agile approaches to software design have made good progress over the last two decades, they still have much to learn from creative and strategic business practices.  As Professor of Design Theory at Northumbria University, in its School of Design with almost 175 years of outstanding creative teaching and alumni, Gilbert has worked across a range of studio environments, which has given him extensive experience of creative design practices that are still not properly understood in mainstream software design. 

His work is highly cited, with 260 publications since 1985 and almost 250 invited presentations in 23 countries (including 14 keynotes). He has presented courses for over 30 years to mixed academic and industry audiences at ACM CHI and other major conferences and events. He has served on several editorial boards for journals and book series. He has been involved in the supervision or examination of over 90 PhD students in Design, Computing and related HCI disciplines. He has directed funded projects with a total value of almost $9M including leadership roles in two large research networks spanning dozens of European countries (MAUSE and TwinTide). He has held six professorial positions in the UK and Netherlands (2 in Design and 4 in Computing). He has advised projects in Finland, Japan and Poland. He has served in major roles in IFIP and UK (BCS) conferences.

Gilbert is currently an Editor-in-Chief of ACM Interactions magazine. He has been involved in ACM SIGCHI since 1992, when he became co-chair for posters and short talks for INTERCHI’93. He was a general chair for CHI 2003 and has also chaired tracks at CHI 1998, 2000, 2009, 2010 and 2012, and was a subcommittee/associate papers chair for CHI 2000 and 2001, and from 2008-2011. Between 1997 and 2009 he served on a SIGCHI International Advisory Task Force, a publications working group, its Conference Management Committee, and its SIGCHI Social Impact and Service Awards Committee. He was a Member of the ACM Software Systems Award Subcommittee (1999-2003, Chair 2002).

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