Ben Shneiderman's book dramatically raises computer users' expectations of what they should get from technology. He opens their eyes to new possibilities and invites them to think freshly about future technology. He challenges developers to build products that better support human needs and that are usable at any bandwidth. Shneiderman proposes Leonardo da Vinci as an inspirational muse for the "new computing." He wonders how Leonardo would use a laptop and what applications he would create.
Shneiderman shifts the focus from what computers can do to what users can do. A key transformation is to what he calls "universal usability," enabling participation by young and old, novice and expert, able and disabled. This transformation would empower those yearning for literacy or coping with their limitations. Shneiderman proposes new computing applications in education, medicine, business, and government. He envisions a World Wide Med that delivers secure patient histories in local languages at any emergency room and thriving million-person communities for e-commerce and e-government. Raising larger questions about human relationships and society, he explores the computer's potential to support creativity, consensus-seeking, and conflict resolution. Each chapter ends with a Skeptic's Corner that challenges assumptions about trust, privacy, and digital divides.
About the Author
Ben Shneiderman is Professor of Computer Science and Founding Director (1983–2000) of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory at the University of Maryland, College Park.
The course in which I've used Leonardo's Laptop is called "LIS 2000:Understanding Information." ...It is designed as an introduction to thegraduate program in library and information science at Pittsburgh, andattempts to look at a series of issues that affect the environment forscholarly publishing, information exchange, information retrieval, etc. Theofficial course description is as follows: "Issues and problems arisingfrom interrelationships among information and individuals, society,organizations and systems, and information that the information professionsaddress."
—Christinger Tomer, University of Pittsburgh
Leonardo's Laptop urges users to promote better design by getting "angryabout the poor quality of user interfaces and the underlyinginfrastructure" and to think big about the ways computers could "supportcreativity, consensus-seeking and conflict resolution." Shneiderman urgesdesigners to build technology guided by the principle of universalusability to insures that all types of people, young, old, novices,experts, disabled, will be able to use technology to enhance their lives.
Chapters dealing with e-leaning, e-commerce, e-health, and e-governmentsuggest creative ways that technology can support humans as they seek todeal with pressing social issues. This book creatively explores a topicthat, all too often, is dealt with in jargon and technical terminology thatis not accessible to a wide audience and narrowly frames the discussion oftechnology and its effects. The book promoted interesting discussionbetween technical and non-technical students about the effects oftechnology on societies around the world. The students especially liked the"collect, relate, create, donate framework" that Schneiderman so skillfullyuses to illustrate how technology can empower and liberate users.
—Diane Maloney-Krichmar, University of Maryland Baltimore County
2003 IEEE-USAB Award for Distinguished Literary Contributions Furthering Public Understanding of the Profession.