In Things That Make Us Smart, Donald A. Norman explores the complex interaction between human thought and the technology it creates, arguing for the development of machines that fit our minds, rather than minds that must conform to the machine.Humans have always worked with objects to extend our cognitive powers, from counting on our fingers to designing massive supercomputers. But advanced technology does more than merely assist with thought and memory—the machines we create begin to shape how we think and, at times, even what we value. Norman, in exploring this complex relationship between humans and machines, gives us the first steps towards demanding a person-centered redesign of the machines that surround our lives.
"Business Week" has named Don Norman as one of the world's most influential designers. He has been both a professor and an executive: he was Vice President of Advanced Technology at Apple; his company, the Nielsen Norman Group, helps companies produce human-centered products and services; he has been on the faculty at Harvard, the University of California, San Diego, Northwestern University, and KAIST, in South Korea. He is the author of many books, including "The Design of Everyday Things", "The Invisible Computer" (MIT Press, 1998), "Emotional Design", and "The Design of Future Things".
* A Human-Centered Technology * Experiencing the World * The Power of Representation * Fitting the Artifact to the Person * The Human Mind * Distributed Cognition * A Place for Everything, and Everything in Its Place * Predicting the Future * Soft and Hard Technology * Technology Is Not Neutral
Cognitive psychologist Norman searches for humane technology and just plain user-friendliness in the paraphernalia and artifacts employed in everyday life. What he finds is that "today we serve technology," though, of course, "technology should serve us." Currently a thinker at Apple Computer (actually, "an Apple Fellow"), Norman expands on his previous offerings (Turn Signals Are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles, 1992; The Psychology of Everyday Things, 1988, etc.) - and his current text, though more thoughtful, is just as user-friendly as his earlier works. Citing the appalling slogan of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, "Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms," the good Apple Fellow offers a new guiding principle: "People Propose, Science Studies, Technology Conforms." Usage, he says - especially of computer software - follows design, but it doesn't have to be that way. With intelligences now darting though cyberspace, Norman can differentiate between the human and the artificial kind. Neither of them is the sole, true McCoy: They're just different, each with different innate abilities. People are better at language, the arts and emotions that make life worthwhile. Technology is better at such things as logic and mathematics, both invented artifices. Not new notions, certainly, but when was the last time you heard a technocrat say that "our goal should be to develop human centered activities, to make...the task fit the person, not the other way round"? Norman's presentation is eminently accessible, with incidental insights into such matters as primitive office procedures, and why, for addition and subtraction, Roman numeration is superior to Arabic. As he notes, books are one form of technology. Television is another. It might be interesting to see if his message could survive a change of medium, perhaps to educational TV. Lots of things make us smart, Norman points out. His book could be one of them. (Kirkus Reviews)
Donald A. Norman, Don Norman
Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine
Place of Publication
Country of Publication
Basic Books (AZ)
black & white illustrations
THINGS THAT MAKE US SMART REV/