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Jennifer Lamkins, Pepperdine University

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Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate
Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate
von Steven R. Johnson
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen It's like, you know..., 3. April 2000
In Interface Culture, Johnson has found a way to reach the rest of us when it comes to connecting the human race to the world of computer technology. Fear comes from the unknown and Johnson, through the linking of technology, culture and history, offers the newcomer to computer technology a sense of familiarity. To experienced users and developers, Johnson offers an opportunity to look more closely and meaningfully at what seems a natural part of their lives.
Johnson finds ways of defining technology and interfaces in ways that are simple yet not insulting to the most proficient user. His discussion of Dickens' works as a metaphor for links was an interesting way of breaking down information overload and simplifying somewhat the concept of the World Wide Web. Yet, he pushes the reader's mind onto a higher plane of a more advanced, interconnected and intuitive web that has yet to exist.
I appreciated the discussion of mainstream versus the avante garde and how they have coexisted "in an uneasy, but generative relationship." There is always that tension between what is creative and what is easy for the user and (and in most cases) sells. This reminded me of the movie industry and independent film makers who, while they are at odds on the intent of movies, find ways of using each other for their own promotion. Like Johnson demonstrates throughout the book I found a connection between the phenomenally fast paced, changing technological world and something I understood. He creates these connections for the reader throughout the book and welcomes (actually pushes) independent thought beyond those connections.
Johnson's book should appeal to technology buffs and insiders, as well as newcomers. He provides a clear, intelligent message without sounding overly technical. He details the history of the desktop metaphor, its initial reception of misunderstanding and derision, its eventual triumph, and its potential or eventual disappearance off the technological landscape. He leaves the reader with his views on the possibilities for future computer technologies and his hope that he has created a measure of understanding and thought for the user and non-user. I encourage the reader to buy this book and judge on your own terms whether he achieved his purpose.


The Inmates are Running the Asylum: Why High-tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
The Inmates are Running the Asylum: Why High-tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
von Alan Cooper
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Uh...how do I program this VCR?, 14. Februar 2000
In The Inmates are Running the Asylum, Cooper has given us a vehicle to articulate our frustration with today's technology. He does so in a humorous, down-to-earth fashion that puts us at ease with our confusion with today's feature-happy electronic devices and software. He offers an empathetic stance, leading the charge against all the new features we have grown to hate or ignore, thrust on us by overzealous engineers (the inmates) ignoring the pleas of designers and consumers alike. This is quite an admirable task considering he is a guru in the field of technology and one of it's prime developers. He gains his authenticity from his experience within the computer industry. If ever there was someone who should be savvy about technology, it should be Alan Cooper, but he is right there as frustrated as we are with products which require manuals bigger than most dictionaries.
In this book, Cooper offers us an insider view of the world of product design and software programming. The world of computers and everyday appliances are merging and, Cooper contends, the merger is not necessarily in the best interest of consumers. He offers some sound advice to designers, engineers and programmers on how to improve the design of products. Although I did not agree with all of his solutions, I still highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever wanted to throw a VCR out a window or designed a product somebody else wanted to throw out a window.


Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine (William Patrick Book)
Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine (William Patrick Book)
von Norman
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 15,99

4.0 von 5 Sternen It's all about us!, 14. Februar 2000
In Things That Make Us Smart, Donald Norman comes to the defense of the human being in the world of technology. He contends that technology has developed historically through mankind's desire to make up for human limitations. The problem comes about when we develop technology without taking into consideration human strengths and other qualities, the whole person.
In his book, Norman calls for us to recognize the effects of today's technologies on the way we think. Rather than our human qualities and ideas shaping technology, today's technology is actually shaping our qualities, ideas and actions. Technology has superseded the human being. He contends we can still turn this into a positive experience. We are still in charge. But more importantly, it is a call for mankind to return to the idea of technology development as a means for improving the quality of human life and thought, not as a means of replacing it.
This book was actually not at all what I thought it was going to be. I was pleasantly surprised and challenged by what I read. Norman writes in both a scholarly and pragmatic fashion. Read it. You'll never look at your television the same way again.


Horace's Hope: What Works for the American High School
Horace's Hope: What Works for the American High School
von Theodore R. Sizer
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 12,07

4.0 von 5 Sternen Education Reform: The Tortoise and The Hare, 11. Januar 2000
Horace's Hope
Theodore Sizer, the Chairman of the Coalition of Essential Schools has written his third book about the experiences and observations of Horace Smith, his fictional representation of an American high school English teacher. In Horace's Hope, Sizer returns to many of the schools he studied and chronicled in his two previous books, Horace's Compromise and Horace's School. Though many of their problems still exist, the changes that have been implemented offer Horace and all of us hope for the American high school.
Many of the schools in Horace's Hope are now members of CES and have adopted the nine essential principles. These general principles, Sizer contends are only as good as the positive changes they create and the perseverance of those who implement them. Sizer contends that communities need to come together. Teachers and principals alone cannot get the job of education done. The community needs to be highly involved but mostly the parents and the students themselves, the focus of education reform. Some of these principles call for a change of philosophy, a change in action, are rather expensive and, all together, take time.
I recommend this book to those who might have anything to do with education whether they are teachers, parents, employers, or community leaders. We all have an investment in how our youth achieve in the 21st century and our involvement and productive community partnership is a major key to their success. Horace's hope has not been diminished but strengthened by the chaos, difficulties and torturously slow progress of positive change because progress is taking place even if a little at a time.


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