Michael Lesk

  • Nested Transactions

    An Approach to Reliable Distributed Computing

    Michael Lesk

    This book shows how to program a system so that the software continues to work in the face of a variety of failures in parts of the system.

    The revolution in the use of distributed computing systems makes their reliability an important concern. While it is generally well understood how to connect hardware so that most components can continue to work when others fail, connecting reliable software remains a problem. This book shows how to program a system so that the software continues to work in the face of a variety of failures in parts of the system. It introduces the concept of nested transactions along with techniques for implementation, algorithms for concurrency control, recovery, distributed commitment, and deadlock detection and avoidance. In addition, it provides a convenient and clear exposition of a number of techniques used in reliability and concurrency control from current literature. The transactions the book presents are collections of primitive actions that are indivisible, thus insuring that consistent results are obtained even when requests are processed concurrently or failures occur during a request. The design permits these transactions to be nested, providing universes of synchronization and recovery from failures. The advantages of nested over single-level transactions are that they provide concurrency control by serializing subtransactions appropriately, and permit parts of a transaction to fail without necessarily aborting the entire transaction.The nested transaction approach to reliable distributed computing will be of particular value to students and researchers in information systems and databases, and professionals designing or implementing databases or information systems.

    J. Eliot B. Moss received his doctorate in computer science from MIT. This book inaugurates The MIT Press Series in Information Systems (Research Reports and Notes), edited by Michael Lesk.

    • Paperback $35.00

Contributor

  • The MIT Guide to Teaching Web Site Design

    The MIT Guide to Teaching Web Site Design

    Edward Barrett, Deborah A. Levinson, and Suzana Lisanti

    An accessible presentation of all aspects of teaching Web design based on the premise that the principles of good communication design in the past apply equally well to the Web.

    Most books on Web design focus on the appearance of the finished product and pay little attention to the ideas and processes involved in intelligent interactive design. This book is based on the premise that the principles that have defined good communication design in the past apply equally well to the Web. The basic process is one of defining the purpose, audience, and style appropriate to one's objectives. Another premise is that effective Web site design is an inherently collaborative process requiring not only technical skills but more traditional written and oral communication skills. Hence, this book stresses a social, process-oriented approach both to design and to classroom instruction.

    The book covers all aspects of teaching Web design, from optimal class size and classroom configuration to peer reviews of completed projects. It is written in an accessible style and uses many examples from the Web design course taught by the authors at MIT.

    • Hardcover $6.75 £5.99
    • Paperback $20.00 £15.99
  • Electric Rhetoric

    Electric Rhetoric

    Classical Rhetoric, Oralism, and a New Literacy

    Edward Barrett and Kathleen E. Welch

    Kathleen E. Welch explores the profound changes in writing and discourse brought about by electronic forms of communication.

    "We are commonly not aware of the complex history of orality and literacy and of the effects of this history on the depths of human consciousness, where electronic communication is now having its deep and as yet not understood effects. Professor Welchs work can give us some of the in-depth understanding we need to be aware of where we really are."—from the foreword by Walter J. Ong.

    Computer screens now dominate many workplaces, and televisions are ubiquitous in our homes, waiting rooms, and many public spaces. In Electric Rhetoric, Kathleen E. Welch explores the profound changes in writing and discourse brought about by electronic forms of communication. To this end, she integrates three related strands: the redeployment of Sophistic classical rhetoric; current literacy theories within rhetoric and composition studies, including gender and race issues; and the inherently rhetorical nature of "screens" in relationship to writing and other communication technologies. Throughout the book Welch deals extensively with women's issues, which have played a particularly important role in the history of oralism. Welch's ultimate aim is to help build a movement to change, partly through critical pedagogy, the actions people take in their daily writing and speaking lives.

    • Hardcover $40.00 £32.00
    • Paperback $20.00 £15.99
  • Contextual Media

    Contextual Media

    Multimedia and Interpretation

    Edward Barrett and Marie Redmond

    Contextual Media expands upon the theme of social construction of knowledge developed in Edward Barrett's three previous volumes. The thirteen contributions focus on specific applications of multimedia technology to cultural institutions such as museums, universities, and corporate environments; they analyze narrative and other navigational structures in various interactive multimedia systems and make recommendations for the design of future systems based on these analyses; and they present innovative uses of multimedia that break out of the confines of a single terminal to develop interactive transformational environments.

    Contributors Colin Beardon, Walter Bender, Edward Brown, Mark H. Chignell, Glorianna Davenport, Ben Davis, Peter S. Donaldson, Larry Friedlander, Geri Gay, Ricki Goldman-Segall, Janet H. Murray, Patrick Purcell, Michael Roy, Niall Sweeney, Laura Teodosio, Suzette Worden

    • Hardcover $50.00
    • Paperback $7.75 £5.99
  • Sociomedia

    Sociomedia

    Multimedia, Hypermedia, and the Social Construction of Knowledge

    Edward Barrett

    Sociomedia examines the use of integrated multimedia to support social or collaborative research, learning, and instruction in the university, one of the best environments for developing and analyzing the effects of computing technologies on our understanding of complex sets of information.

    Sociomedia continues the assessment of hypertext and hypermedia systems begun in Text, ConText, and HyperText and The Society of Text. It examines the use of integrated multimedia to support social or collaborative research, learning, and instruction in the university, one of the best environments for developing and analyzing the effects of computing technologies on our understanding of complex sets of information. The twenty-five contributions discuss critical design issues in the creation of advanced multimedia computing technologies, describe the systems now in use, and assess the effectiveness of this emerging technology. Barrett's opening essay further explores his original and thought-provoking application of social construction theories of knowledge to the development and analysis of multimedia systems. Some of the chapters that follow look at the effectiveness of particular multimedia systems across the curriculum, from medicine, sociology, and management to language learning, writing, literature, and intergenerational studies. Other chapters examine the implied pedagogy within these systems, or the effects of using multimedia and hypermedia in the classroom. Readers should come away from this collection with a critical stance toward the use of integrated media for information retrieval and creation as well as an informed knowledge of the kinds of multimedia systems in development or use. Developers will be able to use this collection to gain insight into the kinds of design choices others have made and their effectiveness in practice.

    • Hardcover $65.00
    • Paperback $11.75 £9.99
  • Hypermedia and Literary Studies

    Hypermedia and Literary Studies

    Paul Delany and George P. Landow

    The essays in Hypermedia and Literary Studies discuss the theoretical and practical opportunities and challenges posed by the convergence of hypermedia systems and traditional written texts.

    Consider a work from Shakespeare. Imagine, as you read it, being able to call up instantly the Elizabethan usage of a particular word, variant texts for any part of the work, critical commentary, historically relevant facts, or oral interpretations by different sets of actors. This is the sort of richly interconnected, immediately accessible literary universe that can be created by hypertext (electronically linked texts) and hypermedia (the extension of linkages to visual and aural material). The essays in Hypermedia and Literary Studies discuss the theoretical and practical opportunities and challenges posed by the convergence of hypermedia systems and traditional written texts. They range from the theory and design of literary hypermedia to reports of actual hypermedia projects from secondary school to university and from educational and scholarly to creative applications in poetry and fiction.

    Contents Hypertext, Hypermedia, and Literary Studies • Theory • Reading and Writing the Electronic Book • From Electronic Books to Electronic Libraries: Revisiting "Reading and Writing the Electronic Book." • The Rhetoric of Hypermedia: Some Rules for Authors • Topographic Writing: Hypertext and the Electronic Writing Space • Reading from the Map: Metonymy and Metaphor in the Fiction of "Forking Paths." • Poem Descending a Staircase: Hypertext and the Simultaneity of Experience • Reading Hypertext: Order and Coherence in a New Medium • Threnody: Psychoanalytic Digressions on the Subject of Hypertexts • Applications • Biblical Studies and Hypertext • Ancient Materials, Modern Media: Shaping the Study of Classics with Hypertext • Linking Together Books: Adapting Published Material into Intermedia Documents • The Shakespeare Project • The Emblematic Hyperbook • HyperCard Stacks for Fielding's Joseph Andrews: Issues of Design and Content • Hypertext for the PC: The Rubén Dario Project • Hypermedia in Schools

    • Hardcover $65.00
    • Paperback $8.75 £6.99
  • The Nurnberg Funnel

    The Nurnberg Funnel

    Designing Minimalist Instruction for Practical Computer Skill

    John M. Carroll

    The legendary Funnel of Nurnberg was said to make people wise very quickly when the right knowledge was poured in; it is an approach that designers continue to apply in trying to make instruction more efficient.

    How do people acquire beginning competence at using new technology? The legendary Funnel of Nurnberg was said to make people wise very quickly when the right knowledge was poured in; it is an approach that designers continue to apply in trying to make instruction more efficient. This book describes a quite different instructional paradigm that uses what learners do spontaneously to find meaning in the activities of learning. It presents the "minimalist" approach to instructional design - its origins in the study of people's learning problems with computer systems, its foundations in the psychology of learning and problem solving, and its application in a variety of case studies. Carroll demonstrates that the minimalist approach outperforms the standard "systems approach" in every relevant way - the learner, not the system determines the model and the methods of instruction. It supports the rapid achievement of realistic projects right from the start of training, instead of relying on drill and practice techniques, and designing for error recognition and recovery as basic instructional events, instead of seeing error as failure. The book's many examples - including a brief discussion of recent commercial applications - will help researchers and practitioners apply and develop this new instructional technology.

    John M. Carroll has participated for a number of years as a leader in the interdisciplinary field of human-computer interactions. He is Manager of User Interface Theory and Design at IBM's Watson Research Center. The Nurnberg Funnel inaugurates the Technical Communications series, edited by Ed Barrett.

    • Hardcover $95.00 £78.00
  • TEDIUM and the Software Process

    Bruce I. Blum

    In this book he describes and evaluates a comprehensive environment called TEDIUM, for the development and maintenance of information systems.

    For nearly a quarter of a century Bruce Blum has been implementing information systems. In this book he describes and evaluates a comprehensive environment called TEDIUM, for the development and maintenance of information systems. TEDIUM automates most of the software life cycle and has been used to implement large and complex systems, which are used routinely in life critical situations. Blum reviews the software process, describes the TEDIUM environment, evaluates 8 years of operational experience, and identifies the factors that improve productivity.

    Contents Part I, Concepts • The Software Process, A Philosophical Framework • TEDIUM, MUMPS, and the INA Example • Part II, Description • The Data Model • Program Specifications • The System • Part III, Evaluation of TEDIUM • Examination of the Software Process •

    TEDIUM and the Software Process is included in the Information Systems Series, edited by Michael Lesk

    • Hardcover $35.00
  • The Society of Text

    The Society of Text

    Hypertext, Hypermedia, and the Social Construction of Information

    Edward Barrett

    This collection of essays continues Barrett's investigations into implementing networked online systems described in his first book Text, ConText, and HyperText, with a more focused emphasis on specific hypermedia systems. In four parts the 22 essays take up designing hypertext and hypermedia systems for the online user; textual intervention and collaboration; new roles for writers; and sensemaking and learning in the online environment.In his introduction, Barrett analyzes the design of networked online systems as part of a collaborative process, asserting that the online environment fosters collaboration by using computer technology to support interaction among those who design, use, and write software. The first five essays present a genealogy of hypertext development, assess various hypertext designs, discuss users' wants and needs, and analyze the "rhetoric" of hypertext applications in light of new models for computer human interaction. Seven essays then take up new, important online systems for information retrieval, document production, and training in the online environment. Included are a first time full scale analysis of the Athena Muse hypermedia system developed at MIT, the hypertext environment Intermedia, developed at Brown, the University of Maryland's Hyperties, and the Educational Online System for document production and training technical writers, now in its second year of use at MIT. New roles for writers and productivity gains provided by online environments are the subject of the next six essays. The final four essays discuss instructional efficiency and the failures of instructional materials. Novel proposals are described for addressing the needs and strategies of learners, for supporting cooperative work in creating, revising, and testing a software program, for evaluating online help systems, and for eliminating ambiguity in online text.

    The Society of Text is included in the Information Systems series, edited by Michael Lesk.

    • Hardcover $64.00
    • Paperback $10.75 £8.99
  • Effective Documentation

    Effective Documentation

    What We Have Learned from Research

    Stephen Doheny-Farina

    Effective Documentation is a major sourcebook that offers technical writers, editors, teachers, and students of technical communication a wide variety of practical guidelines based on often hard to find research in the usability of printed and electronic media. The book's eighteen chapters provide a wealth of material on such topics of current interest as the writing of design manuals, research in cognitive psychology as applied to the design of user manuals, and the organizing of manuals for hierarchical software systems. Included are chapters by such well known scholars in the field as Philip Rubens, Robert Krull, Judith Ramey, and John Carroll.

    Effective Documentation reviews the advice offered by other "how to produce usable documentation" books, describing the different types of usability research and explaining the inherent biases of each type. It goes beyond the actual design of textual and/or electronic media to look at these designs in context, giving advice on effective management ("good management is a requisite of good writing"), on the relationship between document design and product design, and on how to find out who one's readers really are. Advances in the presentation of textual information are explained, with suggestions on how to improve the usability of individual sentences and the design of entire books. The concluding chapters discuss advances in the design and use of online information and offer valuable insights into the use of graphic information and the development and design of information communicated via electronic media.

    Effective Documentation is included in the Information Systems series, edited by Michael Lesk.

    • Hardcover $70.00 £58.00
    • Paperback $40.00 £32.00
  • Text, ConText, and HyperText

    Text, ConText, and HyperText

    Writing with and for the Computer

    Edward Barrett

    Text, ConText, and HyperText presents recent developments in three related and important areas of technical communication: the design of effective documentation; the impact of new technology and research on technical writing; and the training and management of technical writers. The contributors are all authorities drawn from universities and industry who are active in defining and analyzing the role of computing in technical documentation and the role of documentation in the development of computing technology. This first synthesis of their diverse but related research provides a unique conceptualization of the field of computers and writing and documentation. The book first examines techniques for writing online documentation and the value of usability testing. It presents new research into the impact of human factors in screen design and designing online help, and looks at the impact of desktop publishing on documentation, and at visual literacy and graphic design. Artificial intelligence and documentation processing are then addressed with discussion of data acquisition, automated formatting in expert systems, and document databases; the uses of HyperText in documentation; and the future of technical writing in this new environment. Text, ConText, and HyperText concludes by examining the training and management of documentation groups: how they "learn to write" in industry, management of large-scale documentation projects and their effect on product development; and the "two cultures" of engineering and documentation.

    • Hardcover
    • Paperback $50.00 £40.00