Most helpful positive review
69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Informative and, more importantly, fun!
on 3 March 2005
I've only just finished reading it, but I have a feeling this will be one of those books that you keep coming back to. There's a lot of scope for flicking through and reading bits that catch your eye.
A lot of this is down to the layout - within each section the points are made in short "hacks", each one capturing a particular trick of the mind to reveal the (occasionally hackish) way it works.
If an optical illusion can trick us into thinking that two identical objects are different sizes, why do our hands know the right size when they go to pick one up? This is one of the hacks, and it proves that visual information is processed on two paths - the motor control is happening before the processing of context. Or does it? Many of the hacks raise questions which have not been settled, so readers can explore the controversy for themselves.
The authors have an infectious enthusiasm for the subject which is manifest in a lot of links and supplementary reading (as well as a blog). It's certainly a good idea to have the internet accessible to you while you read so you can look up the demos they link to, or you'll find your copy overflowing with bookmarks like I did.
Two minor notes of caution - not all of the hacks are tricks that you can actually try out. Especially at the beginning of the book many of them are textbook information presented in the "hacks" style. This is a fun book, but the science is there as well so be prepared for it! The other potential irritation is that, because the hacks are designed to stand on their own, the book can feel a bit repetitive if you try to read it cover to cover.
Overall, though, an excellent roadtrip through the workings of the mind, with plenty of opportunity for picking up party tricks along the way. There'll even be some serious lessons for anyone interested in the way senses are processed for interface design etc. I can thoroughly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in how the mind works.