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Museum Trip (revised) June 19, 2009

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I made the trip to the IMA to check out the European Design exibit and found it to be pretty interesting.  However, I did not really find all that many parallels between what was going on in the exibit and what was talked about in class.  The closest thing I could find was that certain forms followed a form over function style (Expressive Form Movement, Neo-Dada/Surreal Movement, Neo Decorative Movement) and others a more (I would assume user centered) function over form style (Geometric Minimalist, Bimorphic Design Movement (to an extent), Neo-Pop Movement).


I’ve since found some picture examples of what I saw.  First off was the expressive form.  The expressive form emphasised form over function and arose due mainly to the punk movement in the UK in the 1980s.  The expressive form has changed over time, however, due to the use of computers.

Scaragoo Lamp by Stefan Lindfors

Scaragoo Lamp by Stefan Lindfors

Dr. Glob Armchair by Philippe Starck

Dr. Glob Armchair by Philippe Starck

This Mortal Coil Bookshelf

This Mortal Coil Bookshelf by Ron Arad

Hot Bertaa Kettle by Philippe Starck

Hot Bertaa Kettle by Philippe Starck

Vortexx Chandelier by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher

Vortexx Chandelier by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher


Preece Ch. 12 (pp. 584-595), 14 June 11, 2009

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CH. 12 – Introducing Evaluation:

Evaluation is an integral part of the design process.  It is how you collect information about the users’ interaction with a prototype or product.  It focuses mostly on the overall experience of a design and its’ usability.  It is interesting to note that this is how you differentiate how specific target users interact with a design.  The example given was that a generalized design will different for a 25 year old versus an 85 year old, or an expert interacts differently than a novice.  These interactions should be tested on top of theorized.

12.2 – The why, what, where, and when of evaluation

Users want interaction to be easy, effective, safe, and satisfying.  This is an overall experience, and can only be tested via evaluation.  Previously in history, users only expected functionality, now they expect an experience.  Businesses and marketing also need evaluation to maximize profit.

When determining what to evaluate, it largely depends on the product itself.  Government traffic sites might ask for fewer accidents, whereas toy makers might ask if a toy is infant safety proof.  These questions come from more than a usability standpoint.  They involve aesthetic, emotional, engaging, and motivating qualities in their bases.

Where evaluation also depends on the product.  testing the key sizes on a cell phone can be done quantitatively in a laboratory, whereas testing the the fun of a new toy is better done in a natural setting.  Testing how often a person might use their cell would clearly have to be done while watching a person’s normal life.

The same can be said on when a product should be evaluated.  Brand new product lines are tested after much research and data has been collected, while a software upgrade might be tested immediately after it has been created.  The two types of evaluation done are summative and formative.  Summative  is testing done after a product is finished.  Formative is done during a design process.  The purpose of evaluating is to ensure a product accurately interprets the users’ needs, and that the design embodies these needs.

12.3 – Evaluation approaches and methods

The three main approaches to evaluation are usability testing, field studies, and analytical evaluation.   Each have their positives and negatives and are suited for specific purposes.  Usability testing measures the performance of users doing specific tasks.  Users are asked to perform, while the tester records the user’s actions via video and sound.  Questionnaires and interviews usually follow the session.  The defining characteristic of usability testing is that the evaluator controls the environment and the format of the test.  This is a problem in that it perpetuates a non-realistic scenario.  The everyday routine of people’s lives does not cause the test to be delayed in any way.  Also the person being tested may or may not behave normally during the test.  They may feel like they are being tested, rather than the product, which in turn causes them to behave abnormally.

Field studies are done in a natural setting, which aims at understanding what people do normally and how products mediate their activities.  They are used to help identify opportunities for new technology, establish the requirements for new design, and facilitate the introduction of technology.  Data is taken in the form of events and conversations.  These are recorded as notes or audio and then taken for later analysis.

Analytical evaluations are separated into two categories, inspections and theoretically based models.  Inspections are based on heuristic evaluation and walkthroughs.  Theoretically based models are used to predict user performance.  Heuristics are based on common-sense knowledge and usability guidelines. These can sometimes lead evaluators astray because finidings are not always accurate.  Cognitive walkthroughs simulate a a user’s problem-solving process through dialogue.  these are mostly useful when optimizing efficacy of interfaces.

These 3 types may or may not be used separately.  It is perfectly normal to use all 3 in a single design process.  Using these 3 types, there are 5 main methods in evaluation basically. They are observing the users, asking their opinions, asking expert’s opinions, testing performance, and modeling performance.  It really just depends on what is the most opportunistic at the time in correlation to the product.

Ch. 14 – Usability testing and field studies

14.2 – Usability testing

Usability testing varies in the amount of control the evaluator has. Due to the testing environment and the type of tasks given, results vary greatly.  The two main components to testing are the user test and the satisfaction questionnaire. The purpose is the measure performance and the reasoning/methods are achieved those results.  As was mentioned earlier, results and interaction are recorded at all times to allow later analysis.  Time and number are the main things measured.  Quantitative results are the easiest to determine this way.

There are multiple ways of recording data, via key loggers, video cameras, audio recordings, or indirect survey.  Usability labs are very expensive and as a result, evaluators have been trying to find cheaper alternatives, such as mobile kits or smaller home cameras.  The other “x” factors of these tests come from finding/enticing users and the development of the tasks for them. The procedure of running the test also changes the results.  Evaluators can also run usability tests like experimental testing.  They formulate a hypothesis to test, then setup control groups and variables.

14.3 – Field studies

Field studies serve to find out a product’s overall scope within the confines of everyday life.  This is done by allowing a user to interact with a product during their normal everyday routine.  The positive of this is that evaluators get real-life data based on likely scenarios playing out.  The negative of this is that evaluators get mounds of irrelevant data that may not be useful.  They also cannot test a specific hypothesis in this sense, because the events that play out are totally random.

The time range used for a study can be a few minutes or several months.  Data is done via observation and interviews.  It’s recorded by audio, video, and field notes.  Users may be asked to fill out questionnaires.   The behavioral aspects of field studies is certainly much larger in range than in usability testing.  This however can be aided by identifying the artifacts a user interacts with during their day.  These artifacts help quantify the exact nature of the routine users take.

Preece Chapter 12 and 14 June 11, 2009

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Chapter twelve is the introduction of evaluating ones design project.  Evaluation is necessary because it is needed to check that users can use the product and they they like it, especially if the design concept is new.  Users are not only looking for something that is user friendly, they are also looking to be left with a pleasing experience with the product.  From reading the little bit of this chapter I have concluded that evaluation may be the single most important process of the design process.  It allows you to come up with your designs, have users test them, and then pretty much fix whatever they dont like.  For the most part, if it is done right you will create a completely user friend, rich experience product.

The chapter also explained three different approaches to the evaluation process they are as listed:

1.) Usability Testing – this involves measuring typical users’ performance on typical tasks.

2.)Field Studies- these tests are conducting in natural settings and how the product mediates their activities.

3.)Analytical Evaluation- two categories of evaluation methods are considered : inspections, which include heuristic evaluation and walkthroughs, and theoretically based models, which are used to predic user performance.

Chapter 14 deals with usablity and field studies, which usability testing is an approach that emphasizeds the property of being usable, it is the product being tested and not the user.  It used an example of testing for a website called MedlinePlus which allowed the access to a large database full of health information for a wide range of practicioners.  Their goal for this test was to see what the actual usablity problems were and where were they located in the site.  They used employees in the health care fields for the best accurate test of actual usefullness and usability of the site which I believe was a good idea because most normal people would not understand most of the info if it was available to them or at least appreciate it and put it to use.  They gave the users 5 tasks to complete on the website and had them accomplish them and then rate the tasks and other parts of the website out of 5.  I believe that testing is the most important way to fully develop a product and what this website did by bringing in doctors to test the site was smart and gave them an edge to exactly how useful the site actually is.

The last thing the chapter talks about the use of evaluation through field studies.  We learned from the last chapter that field studies are conducted to show how a product or prototype is adopted and used by people in their working and everyday lives.  Field studies have been known to last several minutes to some spanning over multiple years depending on what results you want and the type of product being tested.  The chapter then went into detail about the various aspects of what to do when conducting a field experiment from everywhere to how to inform the user what they are partaking in and also noting that they feel it is best to let the user know how long the test will take.  It thens talks about analyzing and collecting data which will either be from direct observation or the fill out of either surveys by users or by filling out sheets with ease of use and rating each feature through 1-5.

In conclusion these two chapters teach you the basic knowledge needed to help you in fully getting your product or prototype evaluating and then made just right so it can be marketed and sold.  It provides the steps and some very broad terminology into this area.  However what I have covered is sufficient enough to know exactly what evaluation processes are and the different areas that can be used to achieve this.

Preece et al Chapter 12 & 14 June 11, 2009

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Question Words of Evaluation
The need for evaluation can be answered in

  1. Why?
    Evaluation is necessary to see if a certain design or product is liked or even usable by users. In the business world, evaluation can help designers to improve a product before it is fully released.
  2. What?
    What to evaluate is completely governed by the problem space. It can really be anything from websites to toys to traffic controls.
  3. Where?
    Similar to the “What,” the where to evaluate is dependent on the problem space. Some situations need to be evaluated in a structured, controlled lab environment or a more natural environment. The text uses the example of a web page being better evaluated in a lab setting, while a toy or a phone would be better in a natural setting.
  4. When?
    Once again, when to evaluate depends on “What.” However, there are two general times to evaluate. Summative evaluations are done after the design process and formative evaluations are done during the design process.

Usability Testing

Usability testing is completely controlled by whatever person is performing the evaluation. It is normally used to check for consistency in a product (usually software). Commonly, a user is observed closely and the time it takes to complete a certain task is recorded (quantitative data collection). In addition to performing tasks, users may fill out satisfaction questionnaires or be interviewed for more information (qualitative data collection). Usability testing is especially useful for products that have multiple generations (word processors, etc.). Users are often recorded on camera and microphone so that more than just timing information can be collected.

Usability labs can range in size from an entire facility to the contents of a suitcase. For a real life example, one can be found in Informatics West. Some testers have begun to use remote testing methods as well, eliminating the need for a central usability lab.The final usability section covers how to conduct a usability test and basically equates to an excerpt from a statistics course book. It covers variable choice, control experiments, null and alternative hypotheses, participant designs, and t-tests.

Field Studies

Field studies are more often observed outside the lab setting and are less controlled. The data collected can be used for any number of analyses. Data can also come in many forms (notes, video, interviews, etc) both from the observer and the participant. The amount of time it takes to conduct a field study can be anywhere from a couple of minutes to years. While on site, observers must take into consideration the system or product breaking down and whether or not it can be easily repaired. The results of field studies can be written up in a number of ways, including narratives and vignettes.

Kolko Ch. 5,6 Section 3 Essay June 4, 2009

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In the beginning of the Kolko reading he speaks of technology and aesthetics and how design has gotten some of its aesthetics through nature. I will be honest I have never thought of technology design being inspired through nature…Obviously something like art would draw from nature since nature seems to be an inspiring thing. But for some reason I have never thought of technology being inspired in this way. I suppose if nature is unique and inspiring then it would ultimately make sense that it inspires technology design. Actually, the more that I think about it, technology is always evolving at a very fast pace compared to other forms of evolution. Like technology, the world (people, plants, animals, etc) is evolving all the time. I will just say nature for simplicity. But for some reason I like that connection and the more I read from Kolko the more I understand that inspiration and way of thinking about designs. Before today’s lecture I had not really looked at design in that way completely. I have always thought design is important and you must be able to really understand who you are designing for and what you are trying to “say” through your design but had not looked at far into it as maybe I could have been. Like for instance the Macintosh that was displayed in the slides. I did not realize their was no importance in the holes until the readings and the lecture. But now I can see the reasoning behind it.

I think what I am learning from this Kolko reading as well as the lectures is too open my horizons when thinking about design. Looking at nature for inspiration as well as other things really brings light on some designs I have dealt with and I think is something to note for the future. It really helps to understand how designs come about. I also think that from Chapter 6 the same “broading my horizons” effect took place. I was previously a business major so I really understand product branding and making a product more than about just the product. My brothers for instance own a customizable watch company for students who want to commemorate their education in other ways than the class ring (www.theclasswatch.com). They knew that they had to go about this in a careful way because customizing a watch to some could sound cheesy or not of high quality. But my brothers have some of the most high end watch companies lined up with agreements to customize and sell their products. What they wanted to sell was an image, luxury and class. Sometimes when you talk to them about the company you forget they are even selling watches but rather they are selling an experience. From the moment you log onto their site you can tell it is a high end operation. They made the site so that it is all about the user having total control of what they want. You can literally edit your watch online, send them your design and poof, your watch is in the mail. The customization process really allows the customer to become engage in the entire process. You do not jsut say what you want, you literally do it yourself if you want to. This is like the roller coaster story in that the user has become a complete part of the process. They did not just purchase a watch, they purchased an entire experience. What pops into my mind mostly though after reading from Kolko is the way my brothers have gone about the packaging of their product. Since they are trying to sell a luxury experience, your watch does not just show up in a brown box wants you receive it in the mail. They spent a large amount of time working on the packing so that it was as high end as possible. It may have set them back a few dollars but the people receiving the watches have had their expectations far surpassed just from the packing alone. When they receive it in the mail it stands out and it looks like it is clearly something special as opposed to other packages one may receive.

In the essay he first talks about speaking the language of the user and how you must really understand the user first. I think in my exam project I really tried to relate this and the importance of know exactly who you are designing for and their specific needs. Instead of just observing my location, I decided to engage in the activity of ordering food to better my understanding of the user. I really liked how he talked about going into a foreign land and not understanding the language but yet realizing the trememdous amount of possibility. I would have to agree I have had this same experience just in this class. When we started the eReader design I was a bit confused. I was not sure of exactly how to better the eReader experience so that it was more like a book. But once my group started diving into the project I began to realize all the possibilities that were out there and really started to enjoy it. So much that I wanted my groups to be the best idea.

The teddy bear was also a great example and I think it really shows a persons connection to a product. You begin to use something and as time goes on it becomes yours. Like a cell phone for instance. My phone has changed a bit since I got it in that I have added applications that suit me and the background is a picture of my dog. Like the teddy bears nose becoming bitten off my phone has evolved to suit me and I do not know what I would do without it. All in all it has really spoken to me and is no longer just a phone.

Week 4 Readings June 4, 2009

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I found the materials discussed in chapter 5 more interesting than the other chapters.

In chapter 5, Kolko discusses five different categories of design. He discusses about biomimicry, anthropomorphism, industrialization style, and minimalism. One may argue that one design is better than the other, but that is not correct. I think that certain design would fit best in certain situation, but not in every situations. For example, I personally like the idea of minimalism when it comes to designing my house, but when it comes to designing my electrical devices I prefer industrialization.  Kolko then talks about the brand power of Nike and Starbucks. Couple of sentences I noticed worth mentioning are: 

Starbucks Corporation is not selling coffee, as much as they are selling an experience.

Sure, Apple wants to sell products, but their first priority is to make you want the products.

Both claims make sense to me. Kolko wrote that the Starbucks in Oregon would give similar feelings to that in NYC. In addition, Starbucks in South Korea also gives the similar feeling of being at “home away from home” I like this concept, because that is what led Starbucks to great success and also differentiated from other cafes.

Kolko Ch. 5 and 6 and Section 3 Essay June 4, 2009

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Chapter 5

This chapter talks about using aesthetics to inform experience.  It lists specific trends that Interaction Designers tend to follow.  However, the chapter begins and ends with the phrase, “Interaction design should be desirable … regardless of the medium chosen to visualize a solution.”  It’s interesting that the chapter begins and ends with this statements, but it also makes sense based on the overall topic of the chapter.  This chapter discusses trends that Interaction Designers follow, and they are as follows:  aesthetic relationships between nature and technology, where the example is of burrs and Velcro.  They look at nature and try to imitate it.   The second trend is visual form language creates product families, which is a way of thinking about groups of products in a static setting.  Interaction Designers work with graphic designers to establish consistent sizes, placement, shapes, colors, etc.   The third trend is the role of brand in visual families.   Brand experience is a vital component of product development.  Money is spent on raising brand awareness and not just focused on the sale of the product, which is interesting because one would think that the company would want to spend their money on selling the product, but if that brand is not out there and people don’t know about it, it is difficult to sell that product.  The fourth and final trend is moving from artifacts to experiences.  Aesthetic and experience closely because it is important to understand the structures of experience with artifacts.  Experience itself occurs during consciousness and has a beginning, middle, and end, while experience as a story is used to transmit, condense, and reflect on an experience.

Chapter 6

This chapter is about interaction design and communication.  Design can be thought of as a form of communication, according to the chapter.  A product attempts to convince.  The idea is to make the product come alive through communication of the product.  Product form language is the basis for how people generate and interpret their surroundings.   When viewed under the cover of language, these products become the fabric of society, and allow people to express themselves, communicate with others, and shape their environment in some way.    Some designers find the emphasis on styling and visual aesthetics to be superficial.   They believe that the designers offer intellectual contribution and the aesthetics and styling are only what captures the audience.

Section 3 Essay

This essay describes the relationship between the user and the “other”: a device, service, system, or even possibly a desginer.  If something is labeled interactive, it is modern and very marketable.  This is based on public perception because it’s not something that existed before.  Language is about meaning, the creation, and the delivery of linguistic value.  It is used to identify, qualify, characterize.  Metaphors are “ways of interpreting our daily world with previously experienced and known relationships/associations to enhance the meaning, and acheive a shared understaning,” according to Lakoff and Johnson.   For interaction to make sense, it needs language to communicate.  The meaning behind language lies in communication.

All of these readings talk about aesthetics of design.  Based on what I’ve heard in class or what I’ve read outside of class, aesthetics is a key component to design.  People are going to buy something that is physically appealing to them instead of something they don’t like.  However, when a designer is considering a design, they have to consider usability as well.  Aesthetics has to somewhat take a backseat to the technology itself, in terms of usability, etc, because if the product looks pretty but doesn’t work, that does not constitute a well thought out design and people will return it or spread the word aboutthat product and it won’t sell.  Aesthetics are important, but not the most important thing when designing a product.

Kolko Chapters 5, 6, and Section 3 Essay June 4, 2009

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In the beginning of chapter 5, Kolko offers some of his thoughts about how some technology has gotten its aesthetics.  One way is that technology relies on nature to give it its feel.  For example, not many things in nature are perfectly symmetrical, so some designers purposefully have minor flaws in their shape and feel. Another way is to personify inanimate objects.  This gives the aesthetics of the technology or a product that “begs to be handled.”  The third way to style technology is industrialization, where the aesthesis of the objects feel advanced than they actually are.  An example of this that comes to my mind is body kits that some people choose to put on their cars.  They usually don’t add anything to the performance of the car but they do make the aesthetics of the car look better.  A contrasting view of how to enhance the aesthetics of a technology is the “less is more approach.”  This is where the less styling the better which will allow for a stronger connection between the designer and the customer.

An interesting point for me is the product families.  This is where all the products of a similar brand resemble one another.  Some examples of this that I can think of are the adobe products. Each of them has the same basic feel and style even thought they all do different things.  Kolko then describe how stores like Starbucks and even Apple have started to design their stores in such a way that the customers will first enjoy being at the store and the experience of being in the store and secondly the customer will want to buy the products.  By doing this brand loyalty is created.  One thing that really stood out to me in this chapter is the fact that designers can no longer focus solely on the product, but on the user, the product, and the context of use.

Chapter 6

Products have a dialog with the customers?  That is what Kolko is saying.  The designer designs their product in such a way that it will convince and persuade a customer to not only buy it but also to use it.  At first this did not make sense to me.  The example of how a tape player and a CD player were difficult for to design because the form followed the function because both the players had to be the shape of the tape or CD.  But with the MP3 player, it could look like anything and the design must convince you that it is the correct design for an MP3 player.  Apple succeeded in convincing the customers that the IPod is how an MP3 player is supposed to look, and that is why they dominate in that market.

Another thing that caught my attention is the roller coaster story and how it basically forces the user to be thriller or scared.  This relates to design because you want the audience of your product to be more than a user or viewer of the product, you want them to be actively engaged.  A good example of this is how Nintendo changed the video games so that you don’t always sit and move your fingers.  The Wii made it so you can stand and swing your arms to pitch a baseball or roll a bowling ball.  These games are getting the user to be actively engaged while using the product.

The next few section talk about how it is important to encourage a poetic and resonate interaction design. There are three parts that are necessary to encourage a poetic and resonate design.  They include honesty, mindfulness, and a vivid and refined attention to sensory detail.  So, when designing something, it is good to come up with a product that is engaging, appropriately complicated to the given task in order to encourage a mindful state, and highly sensory.

Contributed essay by Uday Gajendar, Cisco

In his essay, Gajendar describes his experiences with creating products that need to speak to the user.  He tries to create a dialog between the user and the design to understand its meaning and consequence, supporting the user’s expectations and goals. He then mentions some of the core elements that his designs try to achieve with regards to interactions.  They are control, feedback, productivity, co-creativity, communication, and adaptivity.  I believe these are important because as chapter 6 described it is important to have the user actively engaged.  This list allows people to check to make sure that their design is truly interactive.

Gajendar then brings up something that was talked about in the book for week 1’s reading.  This is using metaphors for design.  I remember taking an interest to these metaphors and blogging about them in week 1.  The metaphor that Gajendar mentions is the desktop interface as well as a dashboard interface that has real time performance metrics.  In today’s design activity, our group tried to make a metaphor of a book for an e reader.   The e reader had the exact two page layout of a book, and would feel like a book in that you have to actually flip or turn the page.  So far in my limited design experience I have always returned to metaphors of real life actions to help me design things.

Preece et al ch3 and Harper et al pp10-63 June 1, 2009

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Interaction Design (chapter 3)
This chapter focuses on understanding users (hinted at by the title of the chapter, “Understanding users”) and their cognitive abilities.

  1. Cognition

    • Attention
      “the process of selecting things to concentrate on, at a point in time, from the range of possibilities available” (Preece et al).  Attention uses both visual and auditory senses to focus ourselves as well as our goals and the information presented to us.  Our Goals:  It is much easier to focus when a person has a predefined goal (i.e. a deadline on a paper, looking for a certain word, listening for a name).  Goals, however may not be direct and require taking other steps to get there (like the restaurant example).  Information Presentation: The structure or format of data/information presented has an impact on one’s ability to focus on information (refer to page 96, fig 3.2).  A gridded list of information is easier to search than a block of text and a pie chart is easier to see differences than a list of percentages.
    • Perception and recognition
      “how information is acquired from the environment, via the different sense organs…and transformed into experiences” (Preece et al).  People perceive different things different ways, but there are some basic rules that help (i.e. the use of white space and the use of contrasting colors vs. gridded lines to distinguish information).  Designers must keep in mind that not all people can use all of their sensory organs at the same level, if they can use an organ at all.  If multiple kinds of media are being used at the same time, they must be synced in order for perception of things going on to process correctly
    • Memory
      “recalling various kinds of knowledge that allow us to act appropriately” (Preece et al).  No one has truly perfect total recall and memories can be forgotten.  If more attention focused on something, it spends more in the processing phase and is later stored better as a memory.  Context also plays a major role in memory recall, as trying to remember something out of context can be harder than remembering it in the same context it was stored.  As people are required to remember more and more items (Memory Load) more and newer forms of personal information management must be created (i.e. better search methods and file systems).  Remembering uses two systems: recall-directed (remembering something right away) and recognition-based scanning (a fallback where one looks through a list until something that looks familiar is found.
    • Learning
      “how to use a computer-based application to understand a given topic or using a computer-based application to understand a given topic” (Preece et al).  People learn better by doing, like using GUIs and direct manipulation, instead of just using a set of instructions.  The more interactive a learning system is, the better.  Using dynalinking has proven to be very effective, especially teaching children (i.e. Pondworld example).
    • Reading, speaking, and listening
      “three forms of language processing that have similar and different properties” (Preece et al).  Peoples’ strength in these areas vary from person to person.  Reading allows information to be taken in more than once and can be quicker than the other two methods.  Listening doesn’t take as much effort to process.  Spoken language doesn’t have to be completely grammatical.
    • Problem-solving, planning, reasoning, and decision-making
      “processes involving reflective cognition” (Preece et al).  The mind is able to compare various scenarios and pick what is the best approach to a problem.  A person’s approach to a problem depends greatly on past experiences and what kind of information is available.
    • Cognitive frameworks

      • Mental models
        People don’t have to know exactly how a system works to be able to use it (think of how many people have no idea how a computer works, but still use them).  Analogies are made to find parallels between a new system and a previously experienced system (i.e. physical desktop and virtual desktop).  Incorrect models are very common and provide enough information for the user to get by, but not if a problem happens to the system they are using.  Transparency gives a user more options to operate a system, but too much transparency can result in confusion
      • Theory of action
        Norman’s theory of action was commonly used to predict human action: establish a goal, form an intention, specify an action sequence, execute an action, perceive the system state, interpret the state, and evaluate the system state with respect to the goals and intentions.  This is flawed because is relies on things running sequentially.  Menus, icons, dialog boxes, GUIs, etc. can give people feedback and guide them along a certain action (i.e. Office Wizards).  However, different feedback methods are better at supplying feedback than others.  Gaps between the user and an interface can be demonstrated by Norman’s Gulfs of Execution and Evaluation.  Using this model has allowed developers to create better debugging environments and has also given rise to other frameworks.
      • Information processing
        Several different models for processing information in the mind have  been created over the years, one of which is the human information processing model.  This model uses processes that happen only in the mind and can figure in reaction time, information overload, etc.  The problem with this is that much of cognition happens external to the mind (next section).  Decisions can be made my using much less information (i.e. via scanning).
      • External cognition
        Memory load is reduced by using calendars, PDA’s, etc. to remember dates and password managers for username and password combinations.  The processing load is taken off of the brain by using things in the environment to solve problems (i.e. using a paper and pencil to do math instead of just doing in in one’s head).  Annotations can be made to external objects (i.e. crossing off items from a grocery or to do list) and tracing can be used to better figure out letter combinations  in Scrabble.
      • Distributed cognition
        This involves a user interacting with other users, artifacts, and models to solve a problem.  Splitting the cognitive workload can reduce the time needed to solve a problem or accomplish a task.  Cognitive activities must be tracked through everything and everyone involved in a system.

    Being Human (pp10-63)
    Being Human focuses on how computing has changed in the past and where it may be going by the year 2020.

    Our Changing World

    • GUIs to Gestures
      New ways of interacting with computers are on the rise.  New materials for thinner, more flexible, and more versatile screens and sensors are beginning to replace the classic mouse and keyboard combo with stylus- (tablet PCs, PDAs), touch- (iPhone, etc), and gesture-based (Wii, DSi, eyeToy) interactions on the small scale or CCTV and GPS for movement on a larger scale.
    • VDUs to Smart Fabrics
      OLEDs and newer displays and smaller, more efficient electronics are bringing us closer to wearable computers without bulky interfaces.  BlueTooth is being embedded in more and more objects (i.e. Nike shoes) to broadcast telemetry data and RFID is enabling one’s medical stats to be checked wirelessly.
    • Handsets to the World in our Hands
      This section touches again on how phones are going from “the brick” to pocket sized and from just a phone to pocket-sized personal computers, allowing people to do almost as much via a phone as they could do with a desktop/laptop pc.  A second highlight to this section is how the diversifying of features on phones (internet access, cameras) is giving people new ways interacting with both the real and virtual world via image recognition (i.e. shopping and price comparison) or audio recognition (think Shazzam on the iPhone).  The mention of sending a friend a music gift brings to mind current game services that allow gifting like the Wii Shop and Steam.
    • Simple Robots to Autonomous Machines That Learn
      Robots are becoming more widespread as tools for civilians (Roomba, other iRobot products) and the military (minesweepers, BEAR, BigDog).  Besides being tools, more and more are becoming companions (i.e. Kismet and Keepon from class, Pekoppa, Aibo) with facial and voice recognition abilities.  As far as learning, the cloud could eventually allow robots to network together to share “experiences” and what they have learned to assist in fine tuning and speed up machine learning, a major roadblock for AI development.  Less tangible robots (i.e. spam filters and GPS guides) are touched on as well, mentioning how interaction with machines, especially GPS, can’t be followed blindly and need to be able to communicate back and forth.  Think of how many stories there are of peoples’ GPS system’s directions being off and sending them into a tree, lake, etc.  Could this result in a new class of Darwin Award?
    • Hard Disks to Digital Footprintsbig_brother[1]
      More and more of our lives are being saved digitally, both on and offline.  We can catalog almost everthing about ourselves and others (for example, there are 155 pictures of me on Facebook alone and none of them were posted by me) and be as big of a digital packrat as we want as hard drive prices fall and storage in the cloud gets cheaper (Microsoft SkyDrive currently offers 25GB for free and Amazon offers backup services for a somewhat reasonable rates).  Our digital footprints/shadows are left behind by all kinds of services and electronics we use (IP address, the shows we watch, GPS coordinates, etc).  CCTV and phone/internet tapping also adds to our digital shadows and allow governments to keep tabs on their citizens for security or other purposes. *side note:  I can’t find it right now, but there is a story of a professors that was falsely accused of terrorism due to the US watchlists and has since fully disclosed every aspect of his current life.  If I can find it, I’ll post it here.*
    • Shrink-Wrapped to Mash-Ups
      A combination of people creating more and more of their own content and more non-user created content is becoming available in a digital format, allowing both companies and users to integrate data in new ways (i.e. Google Earth with links to Flickr albums for sites, BrightKite using GPS data, pictures, and text, or even this blog’s ability to upload pictures, video, music, polls, etc).  All of this user participation is what brings the web from 1.0 to 2.0.  Nearly everything is customisable (think iGoogle homepages or Facebook).
    • Answer Phones to Always-On
      Always-on internet access has allowed people constant access to the web, etc, but also resulted in the expectation that things will be tended to immediately.  However, as the overload grows, communication addiction becomes more of a problem.  The current ways of communicating are changing (i.e. phones being used less for talking and more texting, video conferencing instead of in-person meetings, etc.).
    • Changing Societies
      Governemnts and their peoples’ interactions are becoming more complex due to newer technologies.  It’s easier for goverments to keep an eye on their people (refer to above), but those same people are also using technologies to coordinate themselves for politcal reasons (the book mentions the G8 summit demonstrations and the voting-out of Pres. Estrada in the Philippines).  Part of this is due to nearly 1/3 of the world’s population having mobile phone access.  Copper landlines and computer access is less important as cheaper mobile technologies proliferate and introduction new technologies to previous non-users.

    Transformations in Interaction

    • Human Values in the Face of Change
      This section chiefly recaps the values touched on in section one of the book, but also adds that despite our advances in technology, we still are humans with our own sets of values.  Tech and human need to integrate and not oppose each other.
    • The End of Interface Stability
      Wearable technology is blurring the lines of humanity and computers.  We are able to augment our abilities (i.e. hearing via hearing aids) and add to our vitality (i.e. pacemakers).  Interaction with technology is a default, but how people want to interact both with that technology and each other varies from person to person.  Also, the changing physical shape of technolgies affect our interactions (think of stories of a person from the past in the future and learning how to interact with everything, such as Fururama’s suicide booth mistaken as a phone booth).  It’s impossible for us to accurately predict how all technologies will be used and interact with each other, or what will happen to other technologies if they are dependent on another that fails.
    • The Growth of Techno-Dependency
      With each generation, people are more and more dependent on technology.  When technologies fail, people realise their dependence on their technologies, like with the recent wifi problems at Informatics.  Our skills also change with our dependencies, both for better and worse.  Different people rely on technologies in varying degrees, causing another design problem.  While people become more dependent on technology, technologies are becoming more independent of people.  The suggestions they give are increasingly more helpful (i.e. Amazon suggestions).  People have to be able to trust their technologies in able to be fully dependent on them.
    • The Growth of Hyper-Dependency
      Being always connected blurs the line between work and play.  Etiquette is changing as well, but not at a uniform rate for all groups.  Location is no longer a problem for being able to take care of requests, but creates the problem of making oneself available all the time (refer to above).  Constant connections are shifting communities from segmented physical groups to segmented online communities, bringing the world together and dividing it at the same time.  Viral media can spread worldwide in a very short time and people can be brought to attention at the push of a button (a bit machine-like?).  Everyone has a voice, but it brings up the question as to whether or not many of the voices are just the vocal minority.
    • The End of the Ephemeral
      Digital footprints are expanding due to many different sources (refer to above) and are becoming increasingly hard to manage and require new views of privacy.  Peoples’ digital “memories” don’t degrade or shift over time like physical brainmeat-based memories do.  People are monitored whether the know it or not creating a sort of digital Panopticon thanks to many people having camera phones, digital cameras, CCTV systems, cookies (the web kind), etc.)  Security and privacy oppose each other and societies have to figure out how to manage them both.
    • The Growth of Creative Engagement
      Can computer models be reliable enough to solve real world problems and convey what needs to be known for others to help solve these problems?  We should hope so since Informatics relies on this.  A combination of participitory culture and easier to use and more readily available tools allow people to create and distribute their own content much easier (YouTube, SourceForge).  Focuses shift from designing a product to designing toolkits for others to make the finished product.

    Looking Forward

    • The Way Forward
      To cope with the rapid change in technology and computing, people, especially in HCI will need to create new metaphors and definitions to fit the changes.  People are using computers less to solve problems and more for their own interests.  To support this shift, design needs to be more user-centric and rely on human values (entire groups, not single users) and context (think Vista’s network settings for Home, Work, and Public).  Not all technologies are exactly what they seem on the surface and may have alternate uses.
    • Extending the Research Design Cycle
      This section is basically a rehash of what we covered at the beginning of class except that the author splits what was our “Understand Users” stage into “Understand Users” and “Study.”  One thing that seemed lacking in the book’s model was the ability to jump back to a previous step when the need arose and instead followed a regular cyclical pattern.

    Preece Ch. 3, Harper (pp. 10-63) Response May 31, 2009

    Posted by maggertj in Uncategorized.

    Chapter 3 was a very interesting look into the cognitive aspects of the human mind.  I find it very interesting to apply known psychological and sociological ideas directly during the design process.  The key cognition processes as listed as: attention, perception/recognition, memory, learning, reading/speaking/listening, and problem-solving/planning/reasoning/decision-making.  It’s no surprise that these processes are interdependent and may actaully aid or hinder one another.  One key note is that many people are goal oriented, or at least driven by a need or want, which alters these processes profoundedly as well.  Keeping these ideas in mind, it becomes important to limit the information available to users in your designs, to not overly clutter things, and also to help draw users towards the direction they desire.  When speaking of memory, the idea of 7 + or – 2 comes to mind.

    Its recommended to keep menu options limited for the basic user, but more complex for those who wish to explore.  People find it hard to understand spoken menus with more than a handful of options.  This goes into human information processing model.  This model goes: encoding, comparison, response selection, to response execution.  Forcing the mind to “backtrack” so to speak causes information overlay which hinders cognitive execution.  The overall purpose of this modeling is to make designing much more physical in its framework.  Designing becomes much easier when one has the ability to accurately predict user interaction and performance with their designs.

    Harper’s article had some interesting insights as to the past, present, and future implementation of HCI technology. The first example was mainframe use in the 1960s, how one computer served thousands of users.  Now 1 user has dozens of computers, and he proposes in the future that 1 user will have thousands of computers.  Computers have gone from a business only, with limited use, to an everyday efficiency requirement. He mentions the ideas of interaction with computers has been ever evolving.  Previously limited to only keyboard and mice, now we are moving into GUIs with touch and sense interaction, which more fluidly capture the human mind’s ideas.  New electronic ink and flexible smart fabics are making it possible to display computer data nearly anywhere, from clothing to finger sized devices.  Computer AI is becoming so advanced that they can display human emotions and reactions.

    He questions the necessity of privacy in an age where computers capture your everyday routine constantly, whether it be financial transactions, CCTV, or conversation patterns.  This information is used to create new technology, safeguard bank accounts, or help capture terrorist activity.  However new technologies are becoming ubiquitous, and thus easily exploitative in possibility.  Also one might question at what point do we draw the line; where do we say we no longer wish technology to intrude on personal privacy.

    There are also several examples given in which technology is permanently changing human life.  It’s changing the way we work, learn, think, and even feel.  One example is cell phones.  On paper a simple phone, however its almost become a requirement to communicate.  When someone doesn’t own one, and you wish to communicate with them, you get annoyed.  When someone ignores your calls, whether intentional or not, you become angry and assume they refuse to speak with you.  Technology is changing how countries do business and make profit to survive.

    Part 2 talks about how bio-sensing techology might impede on human development.  The idea of interfaces is somewhat of an old notion when it comes to bio-technology.  Harper mentions human values with now determine how HCI is implemented.  Baciyl techo-dependancy creates a responsibly for HCI designers to carefully think about how they will continue to alter the world around them with new designs for technology.  Bare in mind these new designs can greatly aid in human delopment and creativity in general, and we are just understanding how to use this to augment our own goals.   Part 3 starts by reiterating these previous ideas, and then goes on how the design process flows.  It is slightly different than the one in class.  Harper’s process goes: understand, study, design, build, evaulate.  It is also flowing digram that can revisit previous steps.  the names are different but the idea is still the same.  You understand your user, you create a design to aid their goals, you build it, and then you evaulte if your design did indeed aid them and/or society.