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In this book about the darker side of technology's impact on our lives, Alan Cooper begins by explaining that unlike other devices throughout history, computers have a "meta function": an unwanted, unforeseen option that users may accidentally invoke with what they thought was a normal keystroke. Cooper details many of these meta functions to explain his central thesis: programmers need to seriously re-evaluate the many user-hostile concepts deeply embedded within the software development process.
Rather than provide users with a straightforward set of options, programmers often pile on the bells and whistles and ignore or de-prioritise lingering bugs. For the average user, increased functionality is a great burden, adding to the recurrent chorus that plays: "computers are hard, mysterious, unwieldy things." (An average user, Cooper asserts, who doesn't think that way or who has memorised all the esoteric commands and now lords it over others, has simply been desensitised by too many years of badly designed software.)
Cooper's writing style is often overblown, with a pantheon of cutesy terminology (i.e. "dancing bearware") and insider back-patting. (When presenting software to Bill Gates, he reports that Gates replied: "How did you do that?" to which he writes: "I love stumping Bill!") More seriously, he is also unable to see beyond software development's importance--a sin he accuses programmers of throughout the book.
Even with that in mind, the central questions Cooper asks are too important to ignore: Are we making users happier? Are we improving the process by which they get work done? Are we making their work hours more effective? Cooper looks to programmers, business managers and what he calls "interaction designers" to question current assumptions and mindsets. Plainly, he asserts that the goal of computer usage should be "not to make anyone feel stupid." Our distance from that goal reinforces the need to rethink entrenched priorities in software planning. -- Jennifer Buckendorff, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Imagine, at a terrifyingly aggressive rate, everything you regularly use is being equipped with computer technology. Think about your phone, cameras, cars-everything-being automated and programmed by people who in their rush to accept the many benefits of the silicon chip, have abdicated their responsibility to make these products easy to use. The Inmates Are Running the Asylum argues that the business executives who make the decisions to develop these products are not the ones in control of the technology used to create them. Insightful and entertaining, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum uses the author's experiences in corporate America to illustrate how talented people continuously design bad software-based products and why we need technology to work the way average people think. Somewhere out there is a happy medium that makes these types of products both user and bottom-line friendly; this book discusses why we need to quickly find that medium.See all Product Description
A great book. Must have for any software developer who cares about their software doing the right thing. Read morePublished on 10 Dec. 2012 by SP
In this book Alan Cooper efficiently illustrates the accurate point that users don't often know what they want when designing a system. Read morePublished on 31 Dec. 2010 by M. Mallia
Weighs in against the shoddy software designed and written by geeks/geek-wannabees - and the acceptance of this by everyone else. Read morePublished on 9 Mar. 2010 by Mr. N. Foale
Developing software and solutions myself for more than 20 years this book certainly woke me up and gave me the insight and explanation on why so many users fail using the software... Read morePublished on 16 Oct. 2009 by Henrik Morten Kerrn
This is a highly readable and entertaining rant directed against the inadequate development practices of software engineers over the years. Read morePublished on 20 Feb. 2007 by James Christie
This book provides a wealth of knowledge if you can stick with it through the generalisations and attacks on the group of people who need this book the most. Read morePublished on 22 Oct. 2005 by Mr. Wayne Pascoe
The book addresses many areas of why the culture that exists in IT and firms that deal with IT is not working and why many IT projects go wrong. Read morePublished on 28 April 2005 by G. Traganidas
I've read this book and really felt that I had to respond to some of Ben Carey's and Matt Vane's comments (back in 2002 I think). Read morePublished on 7 May 2004 by Tasos
Skim parts I-III it's a diatribe on what's wrong.
Read Part IV several times and take notes as it gives solutions to the identified problems and is actually really good. Read more