Monday, September 1, 2008

Short Response Essay

In this response essay, I wanted to touch base and reflect on the topic of Hermeneutics. After reading Chapter 3 from Winograd & Flores ‘Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design’. They relate Hermeneutics to mean interpretation. How do we find meaning in text? When we look to design coaching systems, are we deciding on this as being the final word for the user to ‘get help’ or create systems to be so easy to use, we are miracle workers? What will give us the end all say in how to design a system? I know and believe user testing will be the end all and give the designers the meaning that needs to be displayed. We can only get Hermeneutics if we ask people their perspectives and not be closed to their usability needs.

I found it interesting as they discuss the term ‘mental representation’ and talk about the hammer. Is it suggested that since we may be able to hammer then what we know about the actual hammer may not come into play. Does this mean that if I can drive a car, then I may not need to know about the general up keep of it? How far and how in depth does the term mental representation go? I don’t really understand why terms like ‘Dasein’ is used, to say, being in the world. I would need about a month to understand what Heidegger is trying to relate to me. Thrown-ness? I’d say the someday I will be able to read terms like this and know what the author is trying to help me understand off the top of my head, today however, it’s a stretch.

When they put the term thrown-ness into terms of leading a group meeting, I would not necessarily say the term to use is thrown-ness. I would call it leadership. Chapter three gave three illustrations of where we are ‘thrown into action’. One by having no say but to act to have the meeting goes in the direction you want it to. The second by having regret at not acting, to say, ‘I should have done this or done that. This point is being thrown into dealing on what others give us to deal with. Thirdly, we can ‘go with the flow’ and keep the meeting moving along, dealing with whatever happens to come our way. When we are in such situations, we often learn how to react to being thrown into situations. I would not have deemed my position as being ‘thrown-ness however.

We go further into the article to learn that when our system and daily regime has a glitch in it, it is called ‘breaking down’. Our ‘present-at-hand’ day, which to me means –our stuff, our bodies, and anything we touch or that is an extension from that. I suppose this can mean our cell phone, ipods, maybe even our clothing. I am thinking that maybe we can extend this to our relationships and work?

When we read over Chapter 12 we will discover the authors take a new twist in thinking. To me, they are almost opposite from the earlier writing. We are now talking about using a Ontologically type of design. I relate this thinking as – what I have learned in the past will take me toward the future; we already use this in everyday life right? You know if you press this particular button, your laptop will boot up, or if you go down the one-way street the wrong way, you may indeed get a ticket from the police. We have a term for this now. I can’t help but wonder, if I am going to design a great user interface or coaching system, I will need some sort of experience to be able to do this. If I don’t have the experience to design a new tool to instruct teachers to use a new educational tool, then it would be common sense for me to get the influence from some teachers, add a few people to the team, and try to see what the classroom may be like. An impressive amount of books, journals and discussions have been and are continuously being generated on topics like this. I will say that this may not be a bad thing, as we do learn on continuous basis. Let us say that new products need new instructions and for the market’s sake, we always make new products. Is this to say though, that different civilizations don’t think like we do? Does the remote tribe in some distant country learn the same way? If they put their hand in fire once, do they keep doing it? I think as humans, we have that innate sense not to keep harming ourselves.

I appreciate the example the authors created about the dress shop owners and their need for some quality control system. This puts the business owner in touch with his business, and also with his customers. Again, this case may use a pre-designed system, or have one tailored to their shop, if you will. I don’t think that any generic site can be used for this, as it is more of a specialty. We know or understand that accountants will use a spread- sheet, but will we put in measurements and get the same response, will it give us a dress size? There are so many different websites offered today. Consider the electric/gas companies. They have customers and users of all ages. Does Grandma Jean know how to use the website to pay her bill online if she is suddenly unable to go get stamps for mail? Would she know how to or even have a computer? This may be an area of design breakdown. Would she know to call the electric company and make arrangements? The authors used the term, Systematic domain, and it is my understanding that this means a common sense method of design used. The electric company would, hopefully even have this systematic method on their phone system. Some companies really need to do an overhaul on their phone tree systems. Usability and user-interface design then may not be restricted then to the computer use and coaching systems. I think it is great though that we do have so many instructional websites. We can learn to make balloon animals, repair cars, even talk around the world from our computers, with relative ease and use.

This brings us to the term ‘structured dynamic communication medium’, which is different than our past with print and telephone use. We had in the past used print advertising to get our products out there for sale. Now we can blast out a computer ad across the Internet with in minutes. The past method of calling on customers door to door or on the phone is ‘old school’ in many aspects. In today’s society, many people are fearful of having people come to their door, even with an appointment made ahead of time. When I think of the old soda adds, I think of the old Norman Rockwell paintings. We have come so far in advertising that we have television ads crossing over into the Internet contests and magazine ads to gather codes and get ‘stuff’ from the companies. This reminds me of the old Bazooka Joe bubble gum wrappers, that if you save over a thousand wrappers, you get some t-shirt from the company if you sent them all in. In essence we have been soliciting society to always purchase products and prove their loyalty by offering free gadgets.

To me, some of the required reading for the first assignment was rather difficult to read, while some was just a pleasure. Difficult for me as I was always thinking, why didn’t they just say this or why is it so wordy? If we have something to write or say, can we do it in simpler, less complicated way? I look forward to our discussion on Tuesday night.

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