viernes, 11 de octubre de 2013


This section of the book suggests the way in which design could become more strategical, following the pattern of actions that human behaviour does, in a way that could really be made in support of effectiveness over efficiency, without disregarding the last. This is to say that a goal and its accomplishment should be the north of a project whereas the efficiency or the ways to reach the goal (tasks, as important as they are), should not remain the only concern. I would imagine that more important that they separately considered (tasks vs. goals) is the consistency between the two, so they match. At least this this the application of the observations on how actions are performed with a purpose based on experience and information (I differ from Norman on the belief that this is about any sort of knowledge, but made the Cmap using his terminology anyway). 
Sometimes, however, a design is already a prototype of good function that allows only adjective improvements precisely in connection to tasks and efficiency. The innovation cycle (Utterback) explains it well. Breakthrough/dramatic innovation is not always possible or even desired. We should distinguish therefore whether to talk about processes that have to do with emerging artefacts and completely new products or derivative/corrective design. Then the task becomes a goal on its own.
Management theories have researched strategic planning for long and many models could have been used and applied to the design process. This is not to trivialize the contribution by Norman, and his check-list  but merely to say that we tend to develop too many models before using to the full extent those that exist already. Interdisciplinary outreach tries to correct this, and I approve this approach to sharing theoretical resources.
It is noteworthy that when discussing the cognitive process, the chapter departs substantially from the ontological theories that prevail and are of wide acceptance in regard of merging of the mind and an the objective reality. Psychology does not really explain this (what knowledge is) as well, so Norman´s book seems light on this respect. On the other hand it discusses the paradox of technology, a topic I would attribute much greater attention. After all one could say it shows the distance between technical and socio-economic development in any given society and also can measure, according to my own research levels of satisfaction in as differing areas as business management and politics. 
The post on the course blog poses a confusing statement also present on the book: " Despite less-than-perfect knowledge, precise behaviour is still possible as much knowledge is not in the head but in the world. This is so because behaviour is determined by combination of knowledge in the world and in the head." It is difficult to accept that knowledge and information (and/or the recount of it -memories-) are the same, or that it exists in the world per-se. At least it does not seem plausible or theoretically founded that knowledge is on itself and has any entity in disrespect of a human being. Further it continues with an implication on that we need not to actually know as long as we can decide on the right action of usability, or so it seems to be implicit by the following: " The implication is that high precision of knowledge in the head is unnecessary as we only need knowledge to be precise enough to distinguish the right  behaviour from the others possible." This would in logic lead to a conclusion most peculiar that the cognitive process, is actually less relevant than what Norman aimed to demonstrate, at least for users, not designers, placing the former in a very disfavouring light, like objects. Maybe what Norman was really analysing is about accuracy (people err, in addition make attribution mistakes often imagining causalities that do not hold true in reality) and what theory has described as tacit knowledge with the implication that we can induce the acquisition of similar content (knowledge) on users? In such case, these ideas would make more logical sense and once again we could be using developments that other academics have discussed for many years and of course develop them further, applying them to the usability and HCI contexts. Why Norman states that memory is knowledge on the head when memory can be faulty and mistaken? Is not it simply information stored? Knowledge thus, is a term I think he could have avoided considering how much philosophy has dealt with it already. In my opinion 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. I am also intrigued about the ways in which Norman would comment on activity theory. In p.60 he states that central to his book is what happens when someone does something. Its seems a lot connected. 
The question posed to prepare the conceptual map this week was: What is the relationship between the seven stages of action and knowledge? Although I tried to stick to this, I had to give relevance to other notions, some of which seemed to me even more important. It appeared to me that the gulf of action, for example should be coherent with the gulf of evaluation to be able to discuss factors such as efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency could be said to look into procedure too (fast, clear, unambiguous, inexpensive), while effectiveness to outcomes (satisfaction of needs and interests). 

Is not the tacit knowledge some sort of conventional wisdom? a default though culturally determined set of understandings (rather than knowledge), what the designers need to take advantage for creating simpler solutions? I would not give to any of these the rank of "knowledge" indeed. Knowledge in ontology means so much more than that: the being, the truth.

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