Farewell Reception: Erik Frøkjær – University of Copenhagen

Farewell Reception: Erik Frøkjær

Come and say goodbye to Erik Frøkjær who has terminated his position as associate professor at DIKU after 33 years.



Erik Frøkjær, born 1949, MSc in Electrical Engineering and in Mathematical Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark (1973), BSc in Business Administration from Copenhagen Business School (1977). After twelve years in industry as systems developer and digitization consultant for governmental departments and private enterprises, he joined Copenhagen University, Department of Computer Science (DIKU), in 1985 as assistant professor, from 1989-2018 associate professor; in 2000-2001 on leave working at Roskilde University.

His research areas have been human–computer interaction, computing as a human and social activity, and health informatics. He has also published about management and development of large information systems, and expert support systems. From the early 2000s he and colleagues at DIKU formed the Human Centered Computing (HCC) group as an interdisciplinary research section, which he headed until 2013.

He has managed a number of large IT and organization development projects, most importantly chairing the Danish cross-departmental committee on Geographical Information Systems (Georegistergruppen 1985) under the Ministry of Finance. This contribution was in a personal letter from Nils Bernstein in 1992 acknowledged as the breakthrough, which created the foundation for a comprehensive modernization in the late 1980s of the digital ecosystem for geographical information in Denmark. In 1990 he designed a new CSCW-oriented editing and publishing system for “Karnov's Lovsamling", which was developed and implemented by a couple of his former thesis students. The system has been further developed and modified, and parts of it are used at large international publishing houses and in internet-based information services, owned by Thomson Reuters.

The costly inadequacies and failures, which we for decades repeatedly have seen in Denmark in relation to some of the large public investments in digitization, have often by Frøkjær been analyzed and sharply criticized. Sometimes years before the mistakes became clear for those in power, and when there was still time to prevent the decisive risks.

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From my years at the university stay in my memory as most valuable and enjoyable, the numerous worthwhile experiences of collaboration with bright and hard-working students and colleagues in order to cope with a wide range of challenging problems.

Especially important has been my collaboration and friendship for decades with Edda Sveinsdottir, Peter Naur, and Kasper Hornbæk, in very different ways brilliant people. Among results dear to me, I shall here limit myself to mention the anthology of selected writings by Peter Naur, his book “Computing: A Human Activity". The idea of the book and the selection of writings were conceived by Edda Sveinsdottir and me. I think this book was important in order to clarify for a large group of influential computer scientists, how Peter Naur for a long time had deserved the ACM A. M. Turing Award, which he earned in 2005. When the book was published Peter Naur dedicated a copy to me with these words: “Til Erik Frøkjær — Hermed vores bog—uden din tro og støtte havde den ikke været her. Tak!—1992 marts 3—Peter".

Erik Frøkjær, Fredensborg, November 4, 2018