A problem with the process of research in the human-computer interaction (HCI) community is addressed, in particular, an overemphasis on 'radical invention' at the price of achieving a common research focus. As a solution, it is proposed that the HCI community should achieve a common focus around the notion of reference tasks. Arguments for the advantages of the approach as well as potential difficulties are given.
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Information retrieval is another discipline in which a core set of tasks and shared data have been used to successfully drive research. The Text REtrieval Conference (TREC; Voorhees & Harman, 1997, 1998), sponsored by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), plays a role analogous to the DARPA speech recognition workshops.