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Importance of frameworks

Why are theoretical frameworks for HCI/HCC important for addressing technology design for people? Clearly, the boundaries for analysis in any design scenario has important implications for the outcome. If we limit our analysis to an individual sitting at a desktop computer we are ignoring many other factors (other people, environment, new technology, etc.). However by opening up our considerations to everything, the design task becomes extremely complex. The constraints we imposed before actually simplified design. Most technology design assumes that people have WIMP interfaces and that nothing can be known about the context of people doing their jobs. This is changing due to post-WIMP technology and human-centered frameworks like distributed cognition and activity theory that consider the entire cognitive environment. It's not fair to make simplified assumptions, but I think there is still a place for setting the proper constraints on design. If I was going to be in seminar on Tuesday one question I would ask is how DC constrains design and what assumptions does it make, if any? Also, is DC merely a framework for analysis or does it state something about how the information must be gathered?

Specifically in the paper, they bring up some interesting things. I thought it was insightful to talk about interaction histories (recording the actions of the users with the technology). This is something I am exploring recently in my work. We find it challenging to interpret the vast amounts of quantitative data, but believe it could provide some interesting insights into how people want to interact and adapt to a technology. The histories are also useful to understand if the computer can adapt to the person. I was surprised to see PAD++ as part of their discussion, but I guess that comes from Hollan. That example confused me about DC because it was so limited. The cockpit and ship navigation tasks clearly illustrated the notion of multiple people and complex physical environments working together to complete a task.

My question remains, how do you use distributed cognition? For activity theory, they have the triangles where you can frame the elements (subject, object, etc) of the activities, but DC is just words at this point, albeit powerful words. Can we add some substance?

  • Steven (October 19, 04)

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  • Fall 2004 Schedule last edited on 8 January 2006 at 8:56 pm by