Blair Nonnecke

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CV of Blair Nonnecke

Room 314, Reynolds Building
Dept. of Computing and Information Science
University of Guelph
Guelph, ON N1G 2W1

phone: (519) 824-4120 ext. 56407
fax: (519) 837-0323


Blair Nonnecke is an academic and usability professional with a particular interest in user-centred design (UCD) and online communities. In 1998, he joined the faculty of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) as a Research Assistant in the Information Systems department. His research focused on lurkers in online communities and became the basis of his Ph.D. A two-pronged approach was taken to understand lurking. The first studied lurking through a series of open-ended interviews with online group members and focused on why lurkers lurk and what they do. The second provided insight into how many lurkers are out there and consisted of a three month demographic survey of 109 email-based discussion lists.

After leaving UMBC in April 2000, Blair became the Director of Usability at Maptuit Corp. A partial list of his responsibilities included: WAP user-interface architecture, requirements analysis, competitive reviews, discount usability, expert review, and research into online maps and directions.

Prior to joining UMBC, Blair consulted in human-computer interaction (HCI), first with IF InterFace in Ottawa (1992) and then as a partner in Convivia Interaction Design, Inc. (1995). During this time, he worked on a wide variety of projects ranging from user-interface evaluation and design (Nortel) to UCD process review (Bank of Montreal). He is well acquainted with the issues of incorporating HCI into software engineering and marketing processes. Essential to incorporation is understanding the needs of the various players (end-users, developers, marketing, support, technical writers, and maintainers) and effectively communicating their needs through reports, facilitation, tutorials and presentations. His interest in people and his training in the technical aspects of both computers and HCI were invaluable to this process.

After completing an undergraduate degree in computer science (1983), Blair worked as a software engineer specializing in both C and assembler development of real-time software in telephony systems (ITT). He then joined the HCI Design Lab (University of Guelph) as a researcher and lab manager. During this time, he also worked as a teaching assistant and started a part-time M.Sc. Research focused on the study of navigation in IBM's suite of online document tools. This work contributed to the ongoing evolution of the products being studied and became the basis for his thesis. As a result of this work, Blair received an IBM Research Fellowship in 1991. This was followed by a Visiting Research Fellowship at The Open University (UK). On returning to the HCI Design Lab on a part-time basis, he investigated character entry on pen-based computers.


Blair is a team player who has effectively taken on leadership roles on numerous occasions. This ties in strongly with his primary goal of being involved in a thriving and creative community. Apart from his personal and professional interests in HCI, Blair is passionate about photography, carpentry and mountain biking. He has bicycle toured in Europe, North America and New Zealand, and hopes to canoe the Mackenzie River sometime in the future.


Ph.D. Computer Science, South Bank University, London, UK (March 2000) Lurkers in email-based discussion lists

M.Sc. Computer Science, University of Guelph (1992)
Usage monitors as exploratory tools in the study of online documentation

Honours B.Sc. Equivalent. Computer Science, University of Guelph (1983)

Honours B.Sc. Physical Science, minor in Chemistry, University of Guelph (1979)


Associate Professor
Computing and Information Science., University of Guelph (2001-present)
  • web surveys of online communities and their lurkers
  • taught Systems Analysis and Design, Software Engineering, and HCI

Visiting Researcher
Information Systems, University of Maryland Baltimore County

  • researched lurkers in online communities (towards Ph.D.)
  • lectured on usability and design as applied to online communities
    (course consisted of M.Sc. and Ph.D. students)
  • evaluated online-community projects developed by graduate students
  • tutored Ph.D. students in the area of HCI and provided guidance for their special topics courses

Director of Usability
Maptuit Corp., Toronto, Ontario (2000-2001)

  • responsible for UI design and usability of Web and mobile services
  • integration of usability into software development process
  • application of a wide range of usability techniques
HCI Consulting:

Convivia Interaction Design Inc., Guelph, Ontario

  • completed a wide range of HCI projects (see list of projects below)
  • clients included Nortel, IBM, Televitesse & BMO

User-Interface Consultant
IF InterFace Consulting Inc., Ottawa, Ontario

  • carried out a wide range of HCI projects for a variety of clients (see list of projects below)

Visiting Research Fellow
Computer Science Dept., The Open University, UK

  • reviewed current design practices in multimedia
  • investigated design methods for multimedia-based teaching materials that incorporate users' questions

IBM Research Fellow
IBM's Center for Advanced Studies, Toronto (1991)

  • designed and implemented keystroke logging for IBM's online document tools
  • carried out a series of usability studies of IBM's online document tools
  • developed recommendations for technical writers having to create online content

HCI Design Lab Manager
Computing and Information Science, University of Guelph

  • researched usability of online documentation
  • researched input methods for pen-based computers
  • worked as a teaching assistant in software engineering and HCI courses
  • mentored undergraduate and M.Sc. students
  • coordinated research projects

Software Engineer
ITT, PBX Design Group, Guelph, Ontario (1983-1986)

  • analyzed and designed real-time software systems (private branch telephone exchanges)
  • worked in Intel assembler, C & PLM


Online Communities

Nonnecke, B., & Preece, J. (2002). Silent participants: Getting to know lurkers better. In C. Lueg & D. Fisher (Eds.), From Usenet to CoWebs: Interacting with Social Information Spaces, Springer.

Andrews, D., Nonnecke, B., & Preece, J. (revised and submitted) Electronic Survey Methodology: A Case study in Reaching Hard-to-Involve Internet Users. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction.

Nonnecke, B., & Preece, J. (2001). Why lurkers lurk. Americas Conference on Information Systems 2001. 1520-1530. Boston.

Andrews, D., Nonnecke, B, & Preece, J. (2001). Web Based Surveys: Exploring Design and Implementation Issues. 2nd International Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. 50-64. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Nonnecke, B., & Preece, J. (2000). Lurker demographics: Counting the silent. Proceedings of CHI 2000. 73-80. The Hague, Netherlands: ACM.

Nonnecke, B., & Preece, J. (2000). Persistence and lurkers: A pilot study. Proceedings of HICSS-33. 367-377. Maui, Hawaii

Nonnecke, B., & Preece, J. (1999). Shedding light on lurkers in online communities. Proceedings of Ethnographic Studies in Real and Virtual Environments: Inhabited Information Spaces and Connected Communities, 123-128. Edinburgh.

Design Methods

Nonnecke, B., Jacques, R., McKerlie, D., & Preece, J. (1995). Video-based hypermedia: Guiding design with users' questions. The New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia: Applications and Research, 1, pp 185-197.

Jacques, R., Nonnecke, B., McKerlie, D., & Preece, J. (1993). Current designs in HyperCard: What can we learn? Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia , 2, 219-238.

Input methods

MacKenzie, S., Nonnecke, B., McQueen, C., Riddersma, S., & Meltz, M. (1994). A comparison of three methods of character entry on pen-based computers. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 38th Annual Meeting, pp 330-334. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors Society.

MacKenzie, S., Nonnecke, B., Riddersma, S., McQueen, C., & Meltz, M. (1994). Alphanumeric entry on pen-based computers. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 41, 775-792.

McQueen, C., MacKenzie, S., Nonnecke, B., & Riddersma, S. (1994). A comparison of four methods of numeric entry on pen-based computers. Proceedings of Graphics Interface '94, pp. 75-82. Toronto: Canadian Information Processing Society.

Online documents

Lungu, D., Nonnecke, B., Carey, T., & Mitterer, J. (1992). The role of indices in online information, Proceedings of IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, Santa Fe, NM.

Carey, T., Nonnecke, B. , Mitterer, J. & Lungu, D. (1992). Prospects for active help in online documentation. Proceedings of ACM SIGDOC Conference, Ottawa.

Hendry, D., Nonnecke, B., Carey, T., Mitterer, J., Sobiesiak, R., & Lungu, D. (1991). How people use softcopy documentation: A case study. Proceedings of International Professional Communication Conference, Vol. 2, pp. 221-224. Orlando, Florida: Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Inc.

Hendry, D., Nonnecke, B., Lungu, D., Carey, T., Mitterer, J., and Sobiesiak, R., (1990). Writing with the BookManager program in mind: Examples, summary of use and writing advice. IBM Technical Report TR 74.063. Toronto. IBM Canada Ltd.



Developed usability content for an in-house HCI training tool, Learning About User-centered Design (LAUD) for Bank of Montreal (1997)

Developed evaluation criteria for multimedia-based training materials for Knowledge Connection Corporation (1996)

Edited and developed HCI training materials for the European Union COMETT project at South Bank University and the Art of Memory (1995)

Evaluated multimedia authoring packages for Knowledge Connection Corporation (1995, 1996)

Developed and carried out one-day design tutorial on form-based user interfaces for Bank of Montreal (1994)

Developed and carried out one-day tutorial on usability methods for Bank of Montreal (1994)

Requirements analysis

Analyzed and developed requirements for the University of Waterloo's Distance Education Web site (1998)

Analyzed user requirements and provided design input for the Tri-University Group of Libraries home page (1998)

Determined usability requirements and high level design for a Web-based course calendar (Office of Open Learning, University of Guelph). Implementation of the design incorporated iterative evaluation based on usage scenarios developed during the usability requirements phase (1996)

Developed usability requirements and high level design for Creative Options' Web-based marketing site for safety and loss prevention (1996)

Assessed requirements and developed user-interface specification for a set-top box email system for Canada Post Corporation (1994-95)

Assessed usability, and co-created the requirements definition and user-interface design of multi-point capabilities for Nortel's VISIT Voice/Video product (1993)

Process review

Reviewed the user-centered design process at the Bank of Montreal, with special emphasis on improving current practice (1997-1998)

Reviewed user-interface design process, facilitated requirements gathering, and provided expertise in setting the user-interface standards for the New York City 911 emergency call taking system for SHL System House Corp (1995)

Prototyped an application style guide and assessed the usability of user-interface prototypes for the Bank of Montreal (1993)

UI evaluation

Provided expert usability review and user evaluation of Air Canada's Web-based user interface for the sale of airline tickets (1997)

Performed user-interface evaluation of an automated digital assistant designed to monitor television signals for Televitesse Systems Inc. Assessment concentrated on notification mechanisms, navigation models, and end-user templates for automated filters (1996)

Assessed usability of a form-based user interface for Nortel's Corporate Design Group (1994)

Performed usability assessment of hand-held portable computers and dispatch system used by telephone installers and service technicians at Maritime Telephone and Telegraph and New Brunswick Telephone, for Architel, Mississauga (1993)

Assessed usability and provided recommendations for a re-design for the Windows version of the user interface of Omnipost, a service offered by Canada Post Corporation combining email, fax, and long distance laser printing (1993)

Assessed usability of Nortel's VISIT Voice/Video product version 1.0 (1992)

Performed usability assessment and made recommendations for re-design of the DOS version of the user interface of Omnipost (1992)


Performed a facelift of the Canadian Medical Association's Web site, with primary emphasis on improving navigation and visual design (1997)

Restructured, designed, and produced work for IBM's Web internal sales/marketing Web site (1996-1997)

Designed user interface for CrossKeys Intranet Web site (1996)

Designed and produced user interface for CrossKeys Internet Web site (1995)

Designed user interface for network management tools for Oasis Technologies Ltd. (1995)

Evaluated the usability and co-developed a user-interface specification for the Windows version of Omnipost (1993)