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X.5 September + October 2003
Page: 52
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Marisa Campbell

back to top  The Handbook of Task Analysis for Human-Computer Interaction

Dan Diaper and Neville Stanton
Lawrence Erlbaum, 2003

This book is a comprehensive review of the current state of research and use of task analysis for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). This multi-authored handbook offers the best reference source available on this diverse subject whose foundations date to the turn of the last century. Each chapter begins with an abstract and is cross-referenced and indexed to other chapters. Divided into five parts—each prefaced with a rationale and brief summary of its chapters—this volume presents contemporary thinking about task analysis together with a representative set of methods.

Part I opens with seven chapters that form a book-within-a-book and introduce most of the main concepts, methods, and techniques discussed in more detail in later parts. Part II describes the use of task analysis in commercial IT projects and recognizes some of the important constraints on its use. Part III primarily concentrates on human issues—most relying on some particular psychological or ergonomic model. Part IV presents task analysis methods targeted at software engineering development. These methods, particularly where supported by CASE tools, are therefore practical for use in commercial projects. Lastly, Part V focuses on outstanding issues associated with task analysis, highlighting the main problems with it and analyzing how these might be resolved in due course. Academic researchers, post-graduate students and final year undergraduates, as well as practicing HCI professionals and hardcore task analysts, including industrialists, psychologists, and computer scientists, will all benefit from this handbook.

back to top  Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency

Jay David Bolter and Diane Gromala
MIT Press, 2003
ISBN 0262025450 $29.95

In Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency, Jay David Bolter and Diane Gromala argue that, contrary to Donald Norman's famous dictum, we do not always want our computers to be invisible "information appliances." They say that a computer does not feel like a toaster or a vacuum cleaner; it feels like a medium that is now taking its place beside other media like printing, film, radio, and television. The computer as medium creates new forms and genres for artists and designers; Bolter and Gromala want to show what digital art has to offer to Web designers, education technologists, graphic artists, interface designers, HCI experts, and, for that matter, anyone interested in the cultural implications of the digital revolution.

In the early 1990s, the World Wide Web began to shift from purely verbal representation to an experience for the user in which form and content were thoroughly integrated. Designers brought their skills and sensibilities to the Web, as well as a belief that a message was communicated through interplay of words and images. Bolter and Gromala argue that invisibility or transparency is only half the story; the goal of digital design is to establish a rhythm between transparency—made possible by mastery of techniques—and reflection—as the medium itself helps us understand our experience of it.

The book examines recent works of digital art from the Art Gallery at SIGGRAPH 2000. These works, and their inclusion in an important computer conference, show that digital art is relevant to technologists. In fact, digital art can be considered the purest form of experimental design; the examples in this book show that design need not deliver information and then erase itself from our consciousness, but can engage us in an interactive experience of form and content.

back to top  Critical Testing Processes: Plan, Prepare, Perform, Perfect

Rex Black
Addison Wesley, 2003
ISBN 0201748681 $49.99

The advent of agile methodologies and test-driven development has brought software testing to the forefront of application development. Yet in today's harried rush-to-market development environment, organizations must find a delicate balance between product release and product quality.

In Critical Testing Processes, the author distills knowledge gained from 20 years of testing experience into twelve critical processes.

These include highly visible processes by which peers and management judge competence, and mission-critical processes in which performance affects the company's profits and reputation.

After each process is introduced, the author demonstrates its use through an engaging case study. This book provides checklists—lightweight, flexible tools for implementing process—oriented testing, gathering metrics, and making incremental process changes. By demonstrating critical processes in various organizational, operational, and technological contexts, this book shows readers how to:

  • Handle recurrent tests efficiently and consistently
  • Develop a cohesive, cooperative team that sidesteps redundancies
  • Build a reputation for reliability through the effective communication of test results
  • Define the focus of tests for maximum customer satisfaction and organizational success

Because testing is a collaborative process with the participation of staff throughout the organization, the author discusses interpersonal and cultural issues in depth. This book also devotes ample coverage to the often-overlooked areas of planning and perfecting tests. Whatever your role in testing—from test engineering to managing hundreds of test engineers—Critical Testing Processes will offer insights into what you do, why it's important, and how you can perform better.

back to top  Designing for Situation Awareness: An Approach to User-Centered Design

Mica Endsley
Taylor & Francis, 2003
ISBN 074840967S

Enhancing situational awareness (SA) is a major design goal for projects in many fields, including aviation, ground transportation, air traffic control, nuclear power, medicine, space and systems maintenance, but little information exists in an integral format to support this. Human factors practitioners can be helped to create designs to support SA across a wide variety of domains and design issues by applying theoretical and empirical information on SA to the system design process and by using basic perception guidelines and human-computer interface guidelines.

For good user interface design it is helpful to deal with SA as a whole. This requires the gestalt integration of information across a wide variety of information sources where practitioners must juggle multiple competing goals. Designing for Situation Awareness requires that designers understand how people acquire and interpret information in such worlds and appreciate the factors that undermine this process. This reduces the incidence of human error, which has been found to be largely due to failures in SA. While many previous efforts have dealt with design at the surface feature level, SA-oriented design seeks to deal with it from the standpoint of the operator's information needs and cognitive processes. Thus it addresses design from a system's perspective.

back to top  Book Listings

Designing Usable Electronic Text
Andrew Dillon
Taylor & Francis, 2003 ISBN 041524059X $100.00

Human-Centered E-Business
Rajiv Khosla, Ernesto Damiani, William I. Grosky
Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003 ISBN 1402074425 $135.00

Human Factors and Web Development
Julie Ratner
Lawrence Erlbaum, 2003 ISBN 0805842225 $37.50

Learning Web Design: A Beginner's Guide to HTML Graphics & Beyond
Jennifer Niederst
O'Reilly & Associates, 2003 ISBN 0596004842 $39.95

Use Cases: Requirements in Context
Daryl Kulak and Eamonn Guiney
Addison-Wesley, 2003 ISBN 0321154983 $39.99

Understanding Interfaces: A Handbook of Human Computer Dialogue
Academic Press, 2003 ISBN 0124366104 $61.95

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©2003 ACM  1072-5220/03/0900  $5.00

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The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2003 ACM, Inc.

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