Archive for the ‘Usability’ Category

The new semester has begun, and I am back to work. I’ve set a goal for myself of reading 500 pages a week, one that I imagine will take me a little while to get up to. But more importantly, I’ve decided that I will not write for my thesis at least until March, thus giving me a solid month and a half of just reading. I likely will continue reading into March in order to refine whatever I’ve figured out in this first run of reading, but for now, I’m just trying to broaden my knowledge base, so that I can approach problems from a place of better understanding.

To that end, today I finished reading Jakob Nielsen’s Usability Engineering, which I had started before the break. This book was somewhat revolutionary for me, as Nielsen has tended to be in recent experiences. What follows is a somewhat unorthodox review of the book. As with everything else here, this review is slanted towards my own research, and so not all of the book was relevant to me. (more…)


My paper is really coming together. I need to move a few things around, but the essence of it is pretty solid. As I worked through it last weekend, I found that discount peer response just makes sense. I’m kind of amazed no one has ever written about this before. Of course, probably someone has; I just haven’t found it.

There’s a bit of parallel I still need to finalize, but the two (user testing and peer response) map so well onto each other that I’m frankly somewhat amazed.

Today in class I did an informal survey that helped me feel more confident about my findings. All semester, I have allowed students to perform a discount peer response on their papers for extra credit. If they took the papers to someone else and had that someone respond to the paper, then created a new draft based on the response, they gained two extra points. They could do this up to three times per semester. As I intended, those who did this generally didn’t need the extra credit (as a paper written in five drafts will invariably get a better grade than one written in two).

What I asked them today was, of those who did the peer response outside of class, which was more effective? Was peer response more helpful in class or out of class? (more…)

I have finally gotten my hands on Nielsen’s Usability Engineering.  I’m very early on (about 40 pages in), but I have to say that my earlier ideas of mapping usability on to writing studies are feeling more and more dead on.

I almost feel as though I could write another book, modeled on Nielsen’s, that says everything he says, but about writing instead of usability.

I’m very excited about this.  The paper is still formulating, but I’m feeling gaps close and the cloud of ideas is beginning to coalesce.

The Psychology of Everyday Things

Posted: November 4, 2007 in Review, Usability

I just finished reading Donald Norman’s Psychology of Everyday Things (POET, as he calls it). Since one purpose of this blog is just to talk about my research, I thought I would take a shot at reviewing the book.

Before I continue, let me state that this is not intended to follow any normal reviewing format. (more…)

As the title of this post suggests, this is an informal brainstorm. I do not know what will come out of it, but hopefully it will be useful. It is my intention to try to pump out at the very least 2 pages of good text this weekend. My hope is that will include both a ‘disclaimer’ (that this is a sample from a larger work, written for a class, etc) and a solid introduction. I also want an outline, which is why I’m here.


I said before that I wanted to make a list of everything that interests me. My hope in doing so was to be able to figure out what part of this interest I want to focus on for the paper I am currently working on. I’ll get to that in a moment. Now, the list, including what was and adding what must also be:

  • Development of Technology
  • Process of invention (both user centered and otherwise)
  • Predictive power of science fiction
  • Conflict between ‘popular’ fiction and ‘Literary’ fiction (as examined through usability)
  • Pedagogy
  • Peer responding/editing
  • Parallels (between programing/writing)
  • Parallels and links between Philosophy and English Studies
  • Iteration
  • Writing Studies
  • Writing History
  • Philosophy
  • Logic
  • User Centering
  • Ease
  • Accessibility
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • New Media
  • Usability
  • History of writing
  • Methods of writing
  • Audience

The list is likely to continue to grow. Realistically, it should always grow; I should constantly be advancing what I am interested in.

Right now, though, I need to focus. My original problem with the paper I was writing was, I think, that I wasn’t focused enough. I didn’t follow my own mental model. Let me digress to explain that. (more…)