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Computers & Human Interaction

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Activity Theory and Interaction Design

Activity theory holds that the human mind is the product of our interaction with people and artifacts in the context of everyday activity. Acting with Technology makes the case for activity theory as a basis for understanding our relationship with technology. Victor Kaptelinin and Bonnie Nardi describe activity theory's principles, history, relationship to other theoretical approaches, and application to the analysis and design of technologies. The book provides the first systematic entry-level introduction to the major principles of activity theory.

Theories of Internet Spectatorship

Internet and computer users are often represented onscreen as active and empowered--as in AOL's striding yellow figure and the interface hand that appears to manipulate software and hypertext links. In The Body and the Screen Michele White suggests that users can more properly be understood as spectators rendered and regulated by technologies and representations, for whom looking and the mediation of the screen are significant aspects of engagement.

Electronic Products, Aesthetic Experience, and Critical Design

As our everyday social and cultural experiences are increasingly mediated by electronic products—from "intelligent" toasters to iPods—it is the design of these products that shapes our experience of the "electrosphere" in which we live. Designers of electronic products, writes Anthony Dunne in Hertzian Tales, must begin to think more broadly about the aesthetic role of electronic products in everyday life.

How Voice Activates and Advances the Human-Computer Relationship

Interfaces that talk and listen are populating computers, cars, call centers, and even home appliances and toys, but voice interfaces invariably frustrate rather than help. In Wired for Speech, Clifford Nass and Scott Brave reveal how interactive voice technologies can readily and effectively tap into the automatic responses all speech—whether from human or machine—evokes. Wired for Speech demonstrates that people are "voice-activated": we respond to voice technologies as we respond to actual people and behave as we would in any social situation.

Computers and the Human Spirit

In The Second Self, Sherry Turkle looks at the computer not as a "tool," but as part of our social and psychological lives; she looks beyond how we use computer games and spreadsheets to explore how the computer affects our awareness of ourselves, of one another, and of our relationship with the world. "Technology," she writes, "catalyzes changes not only in what we do but in how we think." First published in 1984, The Second Self is still essential reading as a primer in the psychology of computation.

Bringing the World Wide Web to Its Full Potential

As the World Wide Web continues to expand, it becomes increasingly difficult for users to obtain information efficiently. Because most search engines read format languages such as HTML or SGML, search results reflect formatting tags more than actual page content, which is expressed in natural language.

In The Semiotic Engineering of Human-Computer Interaction, Clarisse Sieckenius de Souza proposes an account of HCI that draws on concepts from semiotics and computer science to investigate the relationship between user and designer. Semiotics is the study of signs, and the essence of semiotic engineering is the communication between designers and users at interaction time; designers must somehow be present in the interface to tell users how to use the signs that make up a system or program.

Edited by Mark T. Maybury

Question answering systems, which provide natural language responses to natural language queries, are the subject of rapidly advancing research encompassing both academic study and commercial applications, the most well-known of which is the search engine Ask Jeeves. Question answering draws on different fields and technologies, including natural language processing, information retrieval, explanation generation, and human computer interaction.

Designing for Business and Workplace Realities

The goal of participatory IT design is to set sensible, general, and workable guidelines for the introduction of new information technology systems into an organization. Reflecting the latest systems-development research, this book encourages a business-oriented and socially sensitive approach that takes into consideration the specific organizational context as well as first-hand knowledge of users' work practices and allows all stakeholders—users, management, and staff—to participate in the process.

Cynthia Breazeal here presents her vision of the sociable robot of the future, a synthetic creature and not merely a sophisticated tool. A sociable robot will be able to understand us, to communicate and interact with us, to learn from us and grow with us. It will be socially intelligent in a humanlike way. Eventually sociable robots will assist us in our daily lives, as collaborators and companions.

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