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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

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Making Peace with Machines, 30. Juli 2000
What if we put aside worrying about how computers will replace human thought and behavior and focused, instead, on the fundamental differences and complementary strengths of humans and machines? Perhaps then we could make best use of the things that have the potential to make us smart. Don Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things, takes the insights he is famous for, regarding the design of everyday objects, and turns these towards a thoughtful consideration of the high tech objects in our lives.
Norman contends that what machines are best at are memorization and calculation, and that part of our fears about them come from comparing ourselves mentally to computers with regard to these dimensions. This is a fundamentally flawed way to think about the relationships between humans and computers.
He encourages us, instead, to optimize the powerful potential of computation in order to liberate ourselves for more important ends, such as the time and capacity for deep reflective thought. In this way, and in other ways, he advocates for a human-centered approach to technology.
Humans make tools and build objects, or artifacts; and the artifacts we build help to make us smart. They remind us of important things and when designed well help us accomplish important things and provide "affordances" for desired behaviors and outcomes.
We need to develop better and keener senses of design. With regard to computers, the more we can unload, the more conceptual knowledge that we can convert into "experiential" knowledge through the use of such things as powerful computer-based data representations, the more we will free ourselves for higher order reflective thought and human judgment.
Norman convincingly argues that rather than locking ourselves in a battle of turf with machines, we should take advantage of the ways machines, like other human-designed objects, can, indeed, help to make us smart.


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 A. Johnson
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Opening Our Imaginations to "DataSpace", 30. Juli 2000
In writing Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate, Steven Johnson seems to want us to open our imaginations wider to the potential of "dataspace." In some ways he is asking us to view the Internet and the World Wide Web anew.
Perhaps he worries that habits have already begun to form around the new media and that commonly evinced assumptions and metaphors of "cyberspace" have so strongly asserted themselves that we are in danger of forgetting that, for instance, "The Desktop" is only a metaphor, and a rather prosaic and limited one at that.
Johnson offers an alternative view of dataspace as being like a Victorian novel, with labyrinthine passageways, surprises around every corner, and as in the novels of Dickens the possibility of bumping into others, meeting online and being surprised by new or even long lost relationships.
Johnson entreats us to consider that while "the interface came into the world under the cloak of efficiency...it is now emerging - chrysalis-style - as a genuine art form" Unreflective habit and dusty assumptions are oppositional to the consideration of an art form. Further, if it is true that "the medium is the message" then it may be important to more closely consider the elements of interface that we may already be taking for granted. And, in some cases, such considerations raise issues not merely of artistic, but also of ethical, import.
What, for instance, are the implications for intellectual property of "framing" others' ideas in Windows within our own web pages? And what does it mean when, as part of a business arrangement, an online newspapers makes use of the features available in Internet Explorer while IE and Netscape are locked in a federal court battle that is itself national news - reported by that same online newspaper?
Johnson helps to challenge what we think we know about such fundamental elements of an interface as Text and Links and brings us up-to-date on "Smart Agents." He also goes back in cyber-time, to describe Vannevar Bush's theoretical Memex, to remind us that early visions of what "information space" could be about, may surpass our own current formulations, and what we're actually making of it.
Ultimately Johnson's attempts to help us to see with creativity and verve succeed and perhaps we and the "dataspace" we inhabit will be the better for it.


Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards"
Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards"
von Alfie Kohn
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Kohn Opens the Standards Debate and Issues a Call to Action, 14. Februar 2000
Alfie Kohn's "The Schools Our Children Deserve" helps to make contentious educational insider debates on learning, standards and testing accessible to a general readership. Notably he does this, while making sure to bolster his ideas with copious references to educational research, encouraging more - and, importantly, more honest - appraisal of what research really tells us about learning, schools and the possibilities for public education. Kohn forcefully analyzes the "Tougher Standards" approach dominant in U.S. education reform, seeing it as fundamentally flawed. He describes faulty historical and research perspectives that have led to the standards fixation and describes five specific ways that "Tougher Standards" are troublesome: (1) they create a preoccupation with achievement, constantly focusing students on improving performance, which, according to Kohn, is "not only different from, but often detrimental to, a focus on learning;" (2) the approach favors "Old School teaching," as opposed to progressive, developmental learning, and creates a misguided focus on so-called "basic skills" and "core knowledge;" (3) the movement is "wedded to standardized testing," with teach-to-the-test activities routinely displacing higher level learning opportunities for children; (4) their implementation has created rationales for top-down control, "imposing specific requirements and trying to coerce improvement by specifying exactly what must be taught and learned;" (5) "Tougher Standards," so-called, create assumptions about "rigor" and "challenge" that can be summarized as "harder is better," with the notion that if teaching goes down like distasteful medicine that that is how it should be, regardless of whether it turns large numbers of students off to learning, and doesn't even succeed in providing the "just the facts" kind of education often touted by "basic skills" or "core curriculum" advocates.
Kohn goes on to describe, in a "back to the future" way (citing John Dewey and Jean Piaget as representative educational thinkers) that good, progressive approaches point the way towards something better, something our children deserve. He hopes that there are three ways to convince skeptics: theory, research and examples from practice. Kohn's prose is written in a popular-style, generally stripped of jargon, in order to be more inclusive of parents and community members outside of the education system who may not be privy to many of the coded debates and conflicts that have taken place within the walls of the formal education system. Kohn takes on standardized testing and grading as central culprits in the education reform drama, even outlining social action strategies to oppose current approaches to standardized testing. Alfie Kohn's voice offers a refreshing counterpoint to the sea of unchallenged standards rhetoric, worth listening to, for its attention to both research and a genuine concern for our children's educational future.


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