I have often heard that "computers don't make mistakes, humans do." It is around this premise that Donald Norman centers his book. He agrees with this statement - that humans make the mistakes, but it is because the computers and software are poorly designed. We make mistakes because "the machine-centered tasks imposed upon us through our technology ask us to behave in ways incompatible with our fundamental capabilities." (p. 138) If computers and software were people-centered, that is designed from the humans point of view, there would be less mistakes, or at the very least, the technology would be able to make "fuzzy" judgments for corrections.
Norman takes us through a discovery of what is "right" and what is "wrong" with many of the objects we use everyday. He points out both good design (such as the genius of the filing cabinet) and bad design, while also wishing for a new and better way. The interesting part is to note that many of these wishes he made in 1994 have actually become reality. He wished for "computerized scheduling" that can be updated and shared (p. 216) - many of us have Palm Pilots from which we can down/upload calendar updates to and from our desktop computer or share our calendar to another Palm Pilot via "beaming." He also warns us that technologies take a long time to be accepted... and asks us to consider the present to ten years prior - that there isn't that much difference. (p. 192) In 1994, there wasn't much difference in the world from 10 years before, but in the six years since 1994 the world has undergone tremendous change, mostly due to the increased use of the Internet. I am very interested in reading his latest book to see how he addresses this.