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

From: Clark Quinn (
Date: Mon Jan 17 2000 - 17:34:50 PST

From: Clark Quinn <>

> > 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.

No, but an important one. I'll come back to this.

> > 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).

actually, I'd argue that it's the design of one system, splitting responsibility between human and computer to

  a) give what humans do best (and/or prefer to do) to the human

  b) give to computers what they do best (and/or what humans don't want to do)

> > It is my belief that current information systems are designed from a very computer-centric point of view.
>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

It's also the case that some argue you can't separate out the function from the interface; they're too intimately related. Hence the argument for including usability from the get-go, which is the interface design practitioners POV. It's not the case that separating interface from functionality, but instead fine-tuning the functionality to complement and extend human capabilities.

> > 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.

Well, that's always been the approach of 'user-centered (system) design'.

>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.

Actually, why not try to get a synergy greater than the sum of the parts? To me, the question is, what are the goals we'd like to achieve, and how can we use the capabilities of technology to augment our capacity to reach those goals?

To go full circle, how do we augment a system to not only support our cognition, but to help individuals improve their individual capacities as well as the collective capacity? -- Clark

Clark Quinn
(510) 768-2408

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