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Message - Re: Discouraged at the comments.

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Posted by  Harry Pasternak on November 13, 2003 at 11:29:31:

In Reply to:  Re: Discouraged at the comments. posted by brian on November 09, 2003 at 20:24:54:

I am not too surprised that folks here (including architects or architect students) have apparantly never heard of "user-friendly" buildings and cities - or just don't know how that applies to architecture.

I would expect that many here have experienced very user-UNfriendly software and very user-UNfriendly computers. Same difference - whether its tools to work with or tools to live in. Here's a book to get architects here on this forum - a head start on other architects - who are simply out in the cold.

A recent book written by Kim Vincente - The Human Factor:
Revolutionizing the Way People Live with Technology - will give
conscientious architects, urban planners, landscape architects, playground designers, transportation "experts" etc. some food for thought.


“Kim Vicente puts human simplicity into technology.” -- TIME Magazine

In 1999, TIME named Vicente, aged 35, one of Canada’s leaders for the
21st century.

What we really need, argues Kim Vicente, is technology that works for
people. Technological innovation is progressing so quickly that we have
fallen behind in our ability to manage it. Our world is filled with
objects that invite human error -- from VCRs and stoves to hospitals,
airplane cockpits and nuclear powerplant control rooms. Problems --
some potentially catastrophic -- continuously arise when designs are
developed without human nature in mind. Our reaction to this dilemma
has been to create more sophisticated technology -- perpetuating a
vicious cycle as we struggle to keep up.

In this populist, groundbreaking work, Vicente makes vividly clear how
we can bridge the widening chasm between people and technology. He
investigates every level of human activity -- from simple matters such
as our hand-eye coordination to complex human systems such as
government regulatory agencies, and why businesses would benefit from
making consumer goods easier to use. He shows us why we all have a
vital stake in reforming the aviation industry, the health industry,
and the way we live day-to-day with technology.

The Human Factor offers solutions that have enormous implications for
human life. Accessible, entertaining, anecdotal, it is on a par with
such bestsellers as The Psychology of Everyday Things ,Design for
Success ,The Ingenuity Gap , and Sources of Power . It is certain to
create much public debate over dinner tables, in governments, industry
and corporations large and small.

“We already know how to design technology that works for people. If we
could just apply this knowledge much more widely, we could help solve
many persistent social problems of global interest and improve the
quality of life of everyone on the planet.” -- From The Human Factor
 

About the Author
 
In 1999, Kim Vicente was chosen by TIME magazine as one of twenty-five
Canadians under the age of forty as a “Leader for the 21st Century who
will shape Canada’s future.” A professor of engineering at the
University of Toronto, he lectures widely around the world and has
acted as consultant to, amongst others, NASA, NATO, the US Air Force,
the US Navy, Microsoft and Nortel.
He lives in Toronto.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

Review Quotes
 
Advance Praise:
“What form of social change could save lives, boost the economy, and
increase health and happiness, all without political wrangling or
moralistic finger-pointing? The answer: making our technology work
better with human minds and bodies. This delightful and important book
explains how we can at last reap the fruits of the recent revolution in
technology. It should be required reading for all engineers.” -- Steven
Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and
author of The Blank Slate and How the Mind Works

“This book may well be a landmark in changing our view of technology,
and its place in our world. Kim Vicente is a visionary. He understands
the value of using technology to help people, rather than technology
for the sake of technology. He places human needs and values first. The
world today badly needs such people.” -- Alan Lightman, author of
Einstein’s Dreams

“Kim Vicente is an engineer who understands how all our lives are being
engineered. You will put down this book with a new awareness of the
link between devices and those who use them. And you will have been
greatly entertained.” -- John Polanyi, Nobel Laureate

“This book saves lives. Strong words? Yes, but this is a strong book:
engaging, easy to read, but carrying a powerful message. We have far
too long neglected the human and social side of technology. When
accidents happen, we rush to find blame, to sue, fire, penalize and
otherwise punish people when it is the system that is at fault. The
result is needless accidents in vehicles, hospitals, manufacturing
plants and, worse, no way of stemming the tide, of learning from our
actions and making life better, safer, more enjoyable. The Human Factor
can indeed revolutionize the way we live with technology. Read this
book: it can save lives.” -- Don Norman, author of The Design of
Everyday Things and co-founder of the Nielsen Norman group

"We’ve all had frustrating experiences with gadgets, devices, and
machines that seem to have been designed by idiots.  They make our
lives more difficult and sometimes even dangerous.  The designers
weren’t really idiots, of course, but they failed because they hadn’t
taken full account of the physical, psychological, social, and
political context in which their designs had to function.  Kim Vicente
peels away this context like the layers on an onion, and in the process
tells the true story of why so many of the technologies critical to our
lives fall so short of their potential.  He shows us how technologies
are far more than mere machines – they are creations of societies as
well as scientists and engineers.  And he shows us, too, how we all
have an urgent responsibility to understand what makes technologies
succeed or fail.  Moving from toothbrushes to nuclear reactors to the
Walkerton water tragedy, The Human Factor is a triumph of
investigation, analysis, and marvelous storytelling – a must-read at
the dawn of the technology-supercharged 21st century." -- Thomas
Homer-Dixon, author of The Ingenuity Gap

 
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