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The Trouble with Computers: Usefulness, Usability and Productivity Hardcover – 2 Jun 1995


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 440 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (2 Jun. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262121867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262121866
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,766,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"Everyone who has ever stood in line as a clerk [and] fussed over a finicky,computerized check-out machine, or wondered why computers seem tocomplicate life instead of simplifying it, will appreciate Landauer'scleanly argued and thoroughly readable book." Elizabeth Corcoran , Washington Post --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Thomas K. Landauer has been elected into the CHI Academy by The Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI) in recognition of his outstanding leadership and service in the field of computer-human interaction. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Aug. 1999
Format: Paperback
One of the first clarions of the so-called computer "Productivity Paradox", this report is often cited by other unsubstantiated, anecdotal "studies". But there is no "true scientific research" here. Written in 1994 (or '93), published in 1995 (with the fourth printing in "97), it must necessarily ignore the enormous impact of the Web. And like similar tales of "Productivity Paradox" it fundamentally ignores that their incorrect conclusions are based on more than twenty five years of data "category error" (insufficient definitions). Hence the recent NAICS data corrections reflect the enormous economic impact that previously was denied.
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Format: Paperback
Landauer has good credentials to be talking about what's wrong with computers. He talks about the two main phases in computer history: 1)The 50s and 60s where bookkeepers were replaced in great numbers and 2) The 70s and 80s when word processors and spreadsheets came of age. He says that the productivity improvements in the first phase are obvious, but the results from the 2nd are dubious in terms of economic gain. He does point to a few big recent successes such as the communications industry. This book came out just before the Web became big, however. Landauer describes software testing methods in detail and believes better testing could make the difference in current software user productivity. He includes lots of memorable statements, at least to programmer types. He mentions that nowadays many people do things with computers simply because they can, not because it makes sense. He also points out how people pump money into PCs getting them to do things badly, which are easy and cheap to do by other means, just because they are so amazed a computer can do them.
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Format: Paperback
Why are computers so hard to use, and what is this costing us? Answering this question is the focus of Thomas Landauer's in-depth study of computers and productivity. If you are interesed in the economics of computing, software usability or the effect of computing on our nation's economic performance, this is a must-read book.

It is not light reading, but it is well documented and worth the effort. (And the price is right!) Landauer, formerly head of Cognitive Research at Bellcore, is now a professor at the University of Colorado.

I have posted a more detailed review of this book at:

[...]

Lokk under "discussion papers".

Charles B. Kreitzberg
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