While Donald Norman acknowledges in The Invisible Computer
that the personal computer allows for "flexibility and power," he also makes its limitations perfectly clear. Currently, computer users must navigate a sea of guidebooks, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and wizards to perform a task such as searching the Web or creating a spreadsheet. "The personal computer is perhaps the most frustrating technology ever," he writes. "It should be quiet, invisible, unobtrusive." His vision is that of the "information appliance", digital tools created to answer our specific needs, yet interconnected to allow communication between devices.
His solution? "Design the tool to fit so well that the tool becomes a part of the task." He proposes using the PC as the infrastructure for devices hidden in walls, in car dashboards, and held in the palm of the hand. A word of caution: some of Norman's zealotry leads to a certain creepiness (global positioning body implants) and goofiness (electric-power-generating plants in shoes). His message, though, is reasonably situated in the concept that the tools should bend to fit us and our goals: we sit down to write, not to word process; to balance bank accounts, not to fill in cells on a spreadsheet. In evenly measuring out the future of humanity's technological needs--and the limitations of the PC's current incarnation--Norman presents a formidable argument for a renaissance of the information appliance. --Jennifer Buckendorff
"Don Norman's dramatic transformation from design critic to digitaldesigner has made his observations in The Invisible Computer even more insightful and inciteful." Michael Schrage , Research Associate, MIT Media Lab, and authorof Getting Real "Don Norman has established himself as high technology's leadingthinker on user interfaces and on why PCs are too complex."-- Wall Street Journal "... the bible of 'post-PC' thinking."-- Business Week