domingo, 5 de enero de 2014

Final Cmap

Available on the fifth of January in the dropbox file, published 10 minutes past midnight on this blog...
The whole could better be arranged had we started by the last module on history. The instrumental aspects on quantitative considerations and very specific methodologies are important but could have been also left for last; I was tempted to leave them completely out of the big map, but decided to add as much as could fit organizedly in as long as it could be read. The result speaks by itself, and hopefully yields the information that it was intended to convey. The image was too large to be uploaded by blogger, so I add a link to the dropbox folder for a direct view.

Assignment 1. Book review.

“The Design of Everyday Things,” by Donald Norman is an introductory book on user centred design. It is predictive and primes on basic terminology and transferable concepts that are as valid today as they were when the book was written. The fact that it is more than two decades old does not reduce its value. Through a diversity of examples, Norman explains concepts and terminology on the field such as affordances, conventions, visibility, conceptual models, mapping, usability, user centred design, the seven stages of action, etc. Many are other substantial contributions of this book to the discipline. Instead of mentioning/repeating the most obvious it could be more useful to stress on the less noticed arguments and the underlying implications of his posture. It was salient the fact that he invites more reflection in the development of products in a way that resembles strategic planning for conflict prevention and management where needs and interest are fundamental components of any strategy. Norman urges to think about these as well from the preface when he urges designers to study people and take their “needs and interests” into account. In the design field, akin to any other if considering conflict a difficulty or a contradiction, the relevance of dialog is fundamental. A dialog is established through feedback and analysis with the participation of a diversity of approaches. Seen this way, it could be considered the interdisciplinariety and “project management of a design.” No process can be absent of elements different from the functional, psychology, multiculturalism, economics, public administration, engineering, and even the laws are connected to the way objects are conceived, manufactured and commercialized, just to mention a few areas. When thinking of the book in connection to the last assignment we had, it leaves the impression that design is all that matters, because everything is concerned with the creation, development and materialization of objects. Living in a world that requires the material for survival, designing these artefacts is a matter of life support. Paying attention to creations at the strategic level would also result in better design, also being responsive to people´s needs and interests can smooth the transition to a life predominantly mediated by artefacts that is the digital living, and the internet of things, phenomena that Norman could also predict on his work while mentioning the upcoming advent of intelligent home appliances. The connections to make are unavoidable and fundamental, not a matter of choice of luck, such as the doors, or the light switches at home. It is an imperative to focus on the linkage/relationship between subjects and objects. At the same time, making it all exceedingly “easy” for people, could also lead to the trivialization of human effort and its importance for human development. In short, we must remain the subjects that control objects instead of disempowering people from the capacity of analysing, learning, figuring processes out. I would never trade off my ability to find a way and understand my location for the comforts of using GPS technology. To give up such a basic human skill is beyond my comprehension, much more so that some teach their kids how to use devices for geolocation instead of how to read simple signs on the street level, the natural indications such as the position of the sun, or just a paper map. Hence, this book made me worry about the way objects also change people´s potential, capacity, and mind. In a very short section of the book, “Don’t take away control,” in page 197, the author suggests similarly, but not strongly enough, if to consider that the whole book inclines the other way.

It would be reductionist to state a central argument to the book other than the previous, because it would encompass all of the specific advice Normal suggest. The users’ needs are to be satisfied, and hence they should be consulted; aesthetics are important but they can be a consequence of conscious and effective design. This was a very fast read, simple and direct with conceptual value accessible to everyone. This is a positive feature as it also demystifies design, inducing the idea that designing and engineering is all about trade-offs, not fantastic and futuristic creativity as some might imagine. On the other hand, and despite the fact that the author is a cognitive scientists, the text lightens the content when discussing cognition, as I extended on during the module report on the matter, to conclude with the following: Why Norman states that memory is knowledge on the head when memory can be faulty and mistaken? Is it not simply information stored? Knowledge thus, is a term he could have avoided considering how much philosophy has dealt with it already. It seems that scholars have more or less done the same things in their confined territories, focusing on their own fields, instead of integrating entirely compatible observations to create a full view of the big picture on Human potential. Norman could have expanded this topic connecting it with Activity Theory, according to his proposal to work across disciplines, integrating expertise. It is likely that the author purposefully resorted to simplify the language and used a colloquial style, at the expense of academic precision, but it does not diminish the value of this work that popularized the notion of responsible design. This has turned into a reference text for everyone involved in the task of research and development of products, in the field of innovation and even on the impact of regulations on designing and engineering, with the economic policy of states revolving around or seriously affected by its innovation system rules and the way it supports research and development. It is a very clear book filled with real life examples that everyone can relate to. Innovation studies have widely discussed the impact of technology on institutions and society; it could be interesting to learn if the connections were made by academics in the field of design and engineering on other works, books and articles. Norman very briefly adds a section on design and society (p.209) that indicates his recognition on the institutional changes that follow the dissemination of a given technology.
User´s experiences can be simplified and favoured when the process of design concentrates in making tasks efficient and outcomes effective; The author summarizes his proposals into 7 principles that also wrap up the substance of the book and can serve as concluding remarks to his theory: Consider what he calls knowledge in the world and knowledge in the head, make task structure more efficient, bridge the gulfs of evaluation and execution so usability becomes more visible, map tasks correctly, affordances are not the only measures of potential, because constrains have the same power when utilized intelligently, consider mistakes, and resort to standardization when nothing else is possible.

martes, 10 de diciembre de 2013

HUMAN COMPUTER INTERACTION (HCI) Assignment 2, Seventh Module

This was a review of a review that I had just made last semester for the publication of my article on regulatory patterns of the internet. I specially consulted the works or early visionaries such as Licklider and Taylor, and this was exactly why I decided to take part of this course and approach the discipline with more dedication. My assessment included a section on historic developments that leapfrogged or at least urged changes in regulations or their patterns, so I had observed the evolution of technology in general as Utterback proposed, and compose a text on that context. If interested in the article, "google" my name with the same keywords, regulatory patterns internet, and it will be available. For the concept map I used the article suggested (It was very hard to complete the video because of numerous technical difficulties and restrictions, could have this been the experience to all?), but had read plenty of more accounts in the past, mostly written by lawyers that view the same process in three different (I added a fourth) phases: Restricted and specialized, the comercialization and googlization of the internet and the personal computing, mine is the digital living in full, when a device turns into an extension of our identity in every way possible and connects us with other people, devices and the environment in a diversity of ways. These technologies do not support life (we are not nourished or kept alive by them) but soon, the meaning of ur existence will depend of is no longer science fiction.
A  fascinating subject, course that unfortunately ends too soon, after merely scratching the surface of amazing possibilities. I am eager to continue studying with you and integrating disciplines as the whole of the materials on the field keep suggesting.


lunes, 2 de diciembre de 2013


This module concerns formal visualization languages applied to events. Alternative languages, and graphic visualization are some of the topics that concern me the most, and will influence my future research. State transition diagrams and Petri diagrams are similar in that they communicate complex proceses and the system these support, using symbols and schemes. The latter has a more strong foundation in mathematic languages which expands its functionality but also complicates its readability for the uninitiated. While they both can be analogous to concept maps, outlines and flow charts, or a combination of them, according to the materials revised, Petri also facilitates mathematical formulations and applications to the system it depicts. For this section, I had to consult a diversity of other articles, and eventhough it is easy to understand the merits of Petri´s proposal, I still feel unable to fluently read and understand complex diagrams. They are powerful tools to describe and evaluate systems but communicate to a restricted audience with certain level of expertise.
I would recommend to instruct this chapter in person, and practice, during a meeting, the translation of different real-life scenarios (systems) into these languages. Otherwise the topic would seem a bit neglected. Some good examples could be the service at a library, the security control processes in airports, closing a mobile application such as the hassle that Growtopia or Candy crush Saga impose, purchasing milk in a supermarket, etc.

domingo, 24 de noviembre de 2013


From the begining of the course we have been implicitly assessing issues of efficiency towards effectiveness, or heading to their recognition in the context of modelling and design. In previous post some reflections already expressed concerns about these concepts. Efficiency has to do with speed and practicalities, more on the logistic side of a strategy (design), whereas effectiveness is a descriptive quality of an outcome that is well balanced and stable: a goal is acomplished as fast as possible, within the capacity of the device combined with the abilities of the users (quantifiable, as we have learned in past modules, and reminded to in this one). Not only there is a limit to efficiency, where increments are no longer possible, that is 100%; but also there are many factors that play important roles in proposing a good interactive/interface design. Kiera´s article empasizes again the importance of trade-offs and introduces the notion that even when a system does not "seem" to be too efficient, it must enable learning through experience, so the user who is not familiar with the methodology can gain competence with a continuous use. I believe tha is is the risk that every innovation has to run when demand for it does not match an excess of supply for newer or more sophisticated products, in general.Once again the supporting literature is illustrative onhow to quantifiy and calculate numeracally human behaviour. These indicators are what information science is all about, but require for their interpretation a very serious interdisciplinary qualitative expertise and approach. None of the existing models or tools is fail proof, or can succeed to be comprehensive. Sometimes it may seem a waste to invest so much time, considerations and effort designing systems and objects that might be obsolete in very short time. Duration has to be an element that nowadays should influence design, because never before have objects (including interfaces; virtual and analogous; interactive or not; on any field) been so short lasting. One could take any example, for instance on computer applications or software. They are constantly changing, and not necessarily because of efficiency (granted that efficiency is not everything, but assuming that usability is a multifaceted feature). Pinterest just introduced a "new" capacity to "help" people collect and access information about places, systematically. This mapping possibility could be more interactive, but this tweak is not a very welcome facility for frequent pinners. Pinterest is useful and efficient the exact way it is and needs not to begin complicating its use. It is hard not to feel that one spends too much time on it already, and these sudden offers are a wake up call for many of us who realize the more they offer they more one gets hooked, and as a resut would spend (unnecessarily) a nincreased amount of time on their site. Efficiency on what is not necesary is also innefficient, in other words.

jueves, 7 de noviembre de 2013


On the Human Processor Model (HPM) and Fitts' law. This module calls strongly for interdisciplinary cooperation and this is what I can highlight of the whole the most; Card, Moran and Newell in the article suggested for this session, that common mental tasks can be improved and analyzed with the support and assistance of collateral sciences, such as cognitive psychology. This is true in terms not only of prediction and understanding but also engineering and planning, designing  as we are concerned about as well. To the same extent the law on movement we studied and in general the chapter seemed very limited and contradictory so, since the background message I got was the expansion onto other fields, and integration. The limits I perceive are those regarding the very narrow aspects studied by Fitts while its context is so vast. The realization that time needed to complete a cycle between cognition, recognition, decision making and action is far too mechanical and equalizing. What about variables affecting that activity or rather behaviour? Emotions (one could be in a bad mood and disturbed, confused, annoyed, tired, etc. affecting also one's performance), free will (training, determination, etc.), special skills (being stronger, sharper, with longer fingers, etc.), and other facilitators/obstacles (the lights are dim, a neuralgia, improper settings, bad postures, lack of interest, distracting stimuli, etc.) could play a determining role on those. Moreover, some are factors a designer could not possibly control outside an experiment, so I wonder if sometimes we do not waste time when focusing on the not-so-important bits; or maybe a timing response and accuracy are priorities set for the design of interactive environments and interfaces, and I have not yet known it. Three variables, therefore, do not seem enough. I would consider the data of course, and it is always valuable, but contrasted with a multitude of other studies, In this one, I would suggest mentioning the error factor affecting the calculations, at least I did not find reasoning on that.

miércoles, 23 de octubre de 2013


This is a challenging and important topic that invites many more thoughts and research, than those explicit of the task below. Considering the type of interest I have in the sort of "relationships" we establish with technology, this chapter has been informative and intriguing. Some of the comments I have annotated on the texts will be included later on the book review at the end of the semester and concern the "knowledge" reflected on actions. The illustrative instances of slips that I could think about are some of the most common that people experience on everyday life, just as the examples that our readings have presented:
1. Capture based error: Starting the computer to check emails and getting into Facebook instead.
2. Description based error: Placing unwashed silverware on the drawer tray instead of into the dishwasher.
3. Data driven error: Calling my youngest son by every name on the family, male or female before using his own.
4. Associative activation error: Using the words on the top of my head to designate any object, because that is what I am thinking about. Say Coffee (which I love) to offer a beverage to my son (tea or juice, which he drinks).
5. Loss of activation error: Making a massive effort and going out to the shop because we need milk and returning with everything else but milk. Reading a link on the website of the course and straying from the main article by looking up words or new data that needs expansion further loosing focus and continuing with a different task such as collecting references for a paper I am writing.
6. Mode error: Trying to retrieve information from a site by using the back button and risking loosing information that has not been saved or will not be recorded. Now this is fixed by cookies and prompts that check on my desired action: "Do you want to save document 111"?