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

Posted by maggertj in Uncategorized.
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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.

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Comments»

1. Will - June 1, 2009

I think you got the gist of these readings. For the cognition readings, I would ask you where you find the limits to be? Can these models describe everything? When might these models be useful?

For the Harper et al. readings, I think the cell phone is the quintessential example of changes that are occurring between humans and technology. It alters social relations, our way of doing work, play, not to mention what it allows us to do technically/functionally. What are your thoughts on design and technology from having read this article? Positive/negative?

toast000 - June 19, 2009

On the topic of menu creation, is there any way besides trial and error or making two separate menu systems, like Azureus/Vuze, to make a menu system that fits both the basic and advanced user?


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