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am 28. März 2000
In this book, Donald Norman offers a thoughtful examination of the tools, toys and games that we interact with every day. According to Norman these "things that make us smart can also make us dumb." It is the way that we use and interact with these "things" that will determine their effect on our intelligence. Not only does this text offer a comprehensive history of technology tools, but it also examines the evolution of human thought and cognition.
Like Alan Cooper, Norman examines "what is wrong in the design of the technology that requires people to behave in machine-centered ways for which people are not well suited." Norman, however, does not concentrate on the negatives of software design. He presents a look at how we have evolved into our current state in order to make predictions and recommendations about how to proceed into the future.
Norman's study of experiential and reflective cognition should be required reading for any teacher. The study could help both new and veteran users of educational technologies make appropriate choices for the use of different software for different learning opportunities. The section on "optimal flow" is useful for educators, software or game designers and cognitive scientists. Doesn't everybody strive for a "continual flow of focused concentration?"
In his study of the human mind and distributed cognition, Norman examines some of the differences between humans and other species. One of the key distinctions for me was that humans can create tools to help them "overcome the limitations of brainpower." This is where he makes the connection to how things can make us smart. The philosophical nature of this section of the book was very interesting and useful for me. I believe it could help the reader better understand how social learning theory and situated cognition can have an impact on the work of educators and interactive designers.
Overall, this book could be useful for a wide audience of educators, software developers, game designers, interactive designers, cognitive scientists, and students of any of these fields of study. Norman successfully makes connections between many technologies and thought processes. Whether it be the "Wooton Desk and the file cabinet or video games and edutainment, he shows the significance of each and their place in the study of interactive design.
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