Re: [unrev-II] Session 1 - Better Humans, Better Information Systems

From: Jeff Miller (
Date: Mon Jan 17 2000 - 16:50:47 PST

From: Jeff Miller <>

On Mon, Jan 17, 2000 at 03:23:20PM -0600, Bill & Sharon Bearden wrote:
> The first path to more capable human-oriented systems is to increase the capabilities of the humans. One avenue of attack on this
> front is traditional education and this was mentioned in session 1. However, there are other possibilites that could be
> considered. Yoga, T'ai-Chi Ch'uan as well as their more westernized cousins (e.g. TM and The Alexander Technique) are potential
> methods of increasing the capabilities of humans at a very basic level.
> Point #1 - We should not consider improved human-oriented information systems and traditional training as the only means of
> building the capabilites of mankind to solve complex questions.

I'd have to agree with you that training is most important. The question
is how much do we bend the human to the computer and the computer to the
human. see the example of the apple newton and the palm pilot(from session
2). The failure of the newton though may not be due in total to it's poor
hand regonition but also to it's large bulky size - not very portable. The
point I'm trying to make is that the user interface is not limited to
what's on the screen, but how the user interacts with the device

Which brings me back to your mention of eastern techniques. These
techiques may have something to offer in a gerneral sense, but what of the
more specific example?

> The second path of which I spoke is the design of the DKR.
> There is a great deal of room for improvement in the ideas commonly used in the design of the current generation of information
> systems. One-size-fits-all approaches (like Microsoft's "Windows Everywhere" strategy) ignore the fact that computers and people
> are very different (e.g. computers number things, people name things; digital computers can't tolerate ambiguity, people can) and
> that it will be very difficult to make one system optimize the work of both.
> Point #2 - The design of any truly modern information system must really be the design of 2 separate systems: one for the computer
> and one for the human (and the interface between them).
> It is my belief that current information systems are designed from a very computer-centric point of view. What the
> computer needs is very well understood. Therefore, an early step toward more capable human-oriented information systems must be to
> examine in detail the needs of humans. The starting point in my current work (I'm playing at being an author) is human motivation.
> Humans require some motivation to act. The human side of the bi-cameral information system must be designed to exploit our
> knowledge of motivation.

What I think you mean is the splitting of the front end (ie
user-interface) from the back end. This is a common method avocated by
computer scientists, however, in many programs this distiction seems to be
> In summary, I believe that traditional education is not the only way to improve the capabilities of humans. I also believe that
> information systems should be designed from the human up, instead of from the computer up.

how about a meet-in-the-middle attack. Work out the best method for the
computer to handle the data and the best method for the human to enter,
view and manipulate the data. Then provide a translation between them, ie
the UI and protocol. Obviously, some compromise must be made by both
(computer and human) if way are to gain the best from computer augmation.


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