Usability: Turning Technologies into Tools

Front Cover
Paul S. Adler, Terry A. Winograd
Oxford University Press, Sep 24, 1992 - Computers - 224 pages
As more and more equipment incorporates advanced technologies, usability -- the ability of equipment to take advantage of users' skills and thereby to function effectively in the broad range of real work situations -- is becoming an essential component of equipment design. Usability: Turning Technologies into Tools collects six essays that herald a fundamental shift in the way industry and researchers think about usability. In this new, broader definition, usability no longer means safeguarding against human error, but rather enabling human beings to learn, to use, and to adapt the equipment to satisfy better the demands and contingencies of their work. Following an introduction that develops some core concepts of usability, the subsequent chapters: -- describe the role of usability in guiding one of Xerox's largest strategic initiatives -- analyze a Monsanto chemical plant where a study of worker's conversational patterns contributed to the design of a more effective system of controls -- present an empirical study of equipment design practices in U.S. industry which contrasts technology-centered and skill-based design approaches -- summarize recent Scandinavian experiences with user participation in design, with specific reference to the DEMOS and UTOPIA projects -- analyze European experiences that suggest five key criteria for effective human-centered design of advanced manufacturing technology --offer an insightful discussion of the powerful, often hidden human and organizational resources that conventional design processes overlook. Today, three quarters of all advanced technology implementations in manufacturing fail to achieve their performance goals because of inadequate usability. By viewing the human being as a mechanistic system component, and not a particularly reliable one, the traditional "human factors" model of usability virtually ensures that the uniquely human qualities -- experience, adaptation, innovation -- will be neglected, and therefore that new technologies will realize little of their true potential. Usability: Turning Technologies into Tools answers the need for better usability criteria and more effective design and usability assurance processes. In so doing, it leads the way to making a new, broader concept of usability central to design. Its chapters will be of interest to managers and professionals in computer systems, manufacturing engineering, industrial design, and human factors, as well as researchers in disciplines such as computer science, engineering, design studies, sociology, organizational behavior and human resource management, industrial relations, education, and business strategy.

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User Review  - jonas.lowgren - LibraryThing

This book is the outcome of a seminar in 1990 on the effects of technology on future work; it contains seven contributions by different authors addressing usability from a work-oriented perspective. A ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Another meaning to usability.
This is not "user-experience" (UX) in UI design context.
This is the effect of an IT system into working methods and efficiency in manufacturing. A completely different world, totally different context. And happens to be what I was looking for. 


1 The Usability Challenge
Crafting a Strategy for the Design of a New Generation of Xerox Copiers
A Tool Approach
Productivity Learning and Organizational Effectiveness
On Participation and Skill
Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Job Design
7 Enacting Design for the Workplace
Name Index
Subject Index

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Page 182 - ... some one very simple object. It is naturally to be expected, therefore, that some one or other of those who are employed in each particular branch of labour should soon find out easier and readier methods of performing their own particular work, wherever the nature of it admits of such improvement.
Page 186 - FANCY what a game at chess would be if all the chessmen had passions and intellects, more or less small and cunning : if you were not only uncertain about your adversary's men, but a little uncertain also about your own ; if your knight could shuffle himself on to a new square by the sly ; if your bishop, in disgust at your castling, could wheedle your pawns out of their places ; and if your pawns, hating you because they are pawns, could make away from their appointed posts that you might get...
Page 122 - game' is used — how a clarinet sounds. If you are surprised that one can know something and not be able to say it, you are perhaps thinking of a case like the first. Certainly not of one of the third.
Page 184 - ... fields of transparency," just as they can remain opaque. Obviously, the transparency of any technology always exists with respect to some purpose and is intricately tied to the cultural practice and social organization within which the technology is meant to function: It cannot be viewed as a feature of an artifact in itself but as a process that involves specific forms of participation, in which the technology fulfills a mediating function.
Page 7 - The key criterion of a system's usability is the extent to which it supports the potential for people who work with it to understand it, to learn, and to make changes.
Page 118 - I will begin with a few words on practice, the alternative to the "picture theory of reality". Practice is Reality Practice as the social construction of reality is a strong candidate for replacing the picture theory of reality. In short, practice is our everyday practical activity. It is the human form of life. It precedes subject-object relations. Through practice, we produce the world, both the world of objects and our knowledge about this world. Practice is both action and reflection. But practice...
Page 96 - In Scandinavia we have for two decades been concerned with participation and skill in the design and use of computer-based systems. Collaboration between researchers and trade unions on this theme, starting with the pioneering work of Kristen Nygaard and the Norwegian Metal Workers' Union, and including leading projects like DEMOS and UTOPIA, has been based on a strong commitment to the idea of industrial democracy. This kind of politically significant, interdisciplinary, and action-oriented research...
Page 120 - We understand what counts as a game not because we have an explicit definition but because we are already familiar with other games.
Page 171 - The complexity of the term is at once apparent in this history, for it is the unit that is being defined, yet defined in terms of its membership of a class. The separable entity is being defined by a word that has meant 'inseparable': an identity — a particular name - is conferred by a realization of identity - the fact of common status.

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