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on 15 January 2002
Jef Raskin presents a good overview of human machine interaction issues in the first few chapters. His superb coverage of interface modes, habit-formation, locus of attention and various worked quantitative analysis methods to measure interaction makes this book well worth its while alone... These are topics which are rarely covered this well.
I feel that the author loses focus slightly when he starts to talk about how he would implement a new computer interface. Without good examples, screenshots or user-reports from an implementation of these ideas we are largely left with the author's lengthy textual explananations which are sometimes hard to follow. It seems like the author is trying to make up for having the Macintosh project taken away from him. Constantly referring back to the dated "Canon Cat" which was a project he worked on, gets a bit tiresome; it would have been nice to see more modern applications of the authors ideas, many of which are extremely interesting (the ideas presented explain why nearly everyone finds Windows 2000's "adaptive" menus annoying). Despite this, the book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in human machine / human computer interfaces.
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on 17 March 2001
This book is both intriguing and arresting along a number of different dimensions. From the outset it is presented as one man's views, some idiosyncratic, of where things have gone wrong, and how things can be put right, in principle. It attempts to develop and assess a methodology (more of a series of heuristics)for human computer interaction by grounding the fundamental principles in aspects of cognitive theory, philosophy and even aesthetics. While many other texts recount the mechanics of HCI very directly, Raskin's reflections approach the various issues indirectly. Given the author's experience one would expect it to be a very competent text, but it goes beyond that and becomes a critical text with its own internal dialectic. And this is its major interest and significance - at times it reads as if assembled by a contintental philosopher of textual analysis. Raskin's central tenet is that interaction is more subtle than we have allowed for, and he sets off producing several singular examples of very poor design to illustrate the point. Peculiarly for a book that is clearly ergonomic in orientation and emphasis, it really only focuses on the GOMS model as the main method for pyschometric assessment of an interface. Also the book does not lay out a stall of the various task analysis methodologies that have evolved over the past twenty years. The book is not a 'how to' manual rather it is is an attempt at a 'philosophy of how to'. At this juncture, with increasing emphasis on multimodal interfaces,Raskin's book may be that bit more useful in the long run than the many alternatives.
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on 14 August 2005
I bought this book as recommended reading for my degree course in computer science. I found it to be self serving as the author promotes his own work and insults other work. The author compares his idea against some already implemented device, but he always finds a way of making this device inefficient. To be honest i have not found this book to be any help at all.
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