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[ [ [ Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine[ THINGS THAT MAKE US SMART: DEFENDING HUMAN ATTRIBUTES IN THE AGE OF THE MACHINE ] By Norman, Donald A. ( Author )Mar-31-1994 Paperback (Anglais) Broché – 21 avril 1994
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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.
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.
It describes how we (mankind) uses external representations to assist our brains - from writing, to diagrams, to maps, to the way we build our offices.
If you want a deeper psychological understanding with which you can do your own reasoning on different types of external representation - get this book. If you want clear-cut guidelines - get another book.
If you like this book - try Normans: The Design of Everydaythings as well. You might like Donald Schöns The Reflective Practitioner also.
Last word: Norman seems to prefer easy reading to structure - which means the book is best read end-to-end.
Much of the research he reviewed was rather old, even at the time of publication, and most of the analysis of them elaborated too much, without really being that trenchant. I found myself skipping ahead about halfway through the book when I knew the point of a chapter after a page or two, and didn't find any surprises along the way.
A good "gee-whiz" book for those new to cognitive psych or human factors, but a bit of a let-down for the specialist.