QUT Design Lab researchers recognised for understanding our ability to not give a hoot when it comes to reading manuals.

While the Ig Nobel prize is a parody of the Nobel Prize, receiving one is no laughing matter. Originally created to celebrate the unusual and imaginative as well as to encourage people’s interest in science, medicine and technology, being one of the 10 research teams/projects to be awarded each year is still a high honour.


The Ig Nobel Prizes have been planting their tongue firmly in their cheek while recognising achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think since 1991.

Earlier this month four QUT Design Lab researchers, Professor Thea Blackler, Dr Rafael Gomez, Professor Vesna Popovic, and M. Helen Thompson became part of the Ig Nobel family for their published research Life Is Too Short to RTFM: How Users Relate to Documentation and Excess Features in Consumer Products.

The paper is about how people rarely read the manual for new consumer products, and the negative emotions of doing so. It also touches on how too many features can be detrimental to user experience. The full paper is available online at QUT ePrints.

The ceremony, held at Harvard in Massachusetts was webcast live and you can see the whole event here. Or if, like me, you think that life is too short to watch the whole thing, here’s the moment that Blackler accepted the award on behalf of the team here.  

Blacker and the QUT Design Lab team are in good company, with other Australian winners including Karl Kruszelnicki (2002) for his part in a research project on belly button fluff, and  Dr Len Fisher (1999) for calculating the optimal way to dunk a biscuit. As far as we know this is the first time QUT has been honoured by Ig Nobel, though to be fair, I haven’t read through the 27 years of winners … perhaps there’s a research project in that.

Catch up on the press the award has garnered here:







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