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Ben Shneiderman, Computer-Science Professor

Shneiderman, an authority on how people work with computers, is the founder of University of Maryland's Human-Computer Interaction Lab.
Ben Shneiderman, Computer-science professor -- photograph by David Deal

Photograph by David Deal

Ben Shneiderman
Computer-science professor

Interview by Rick Whiting

Get Visual
We're overdue for the next generation of user-interface and data-visualization tools, Shneiderman says, "so people can create something new using the huge amounts of data flowing past them."

New Vistas
Shneiderman helped develop Microsoft's Windows Vista user interface, in which the Help functions will become Show Me! "Help is such an old, desperate-sounding word," he says.

He co-created the Nassi-Shneiderman flow diagrams, a graphical representation for designing structured software, and once had a paper rejected for publication with the suggestion that the authors "collect all copies and burn them."

Hot Idea
Shneiderman, along with World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, helped develop the concept of hypertext links. "I called them 'embedded menus,' and Lee had the wisdom to call them 'hot links.'"

Da Vinci Code
In his book "Leonardo's Laptop: Human Needs And The New Computing Technologies," he muses about how da Vinci would use a laptop to integrate art and science.