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Why Things Are So Bad for the Computer-Naive User

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000128634D
Original Publication Date: 1975-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Sep-16
Document File: 6 page(s) / 26K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

William C. Mann: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Many people who use computers, or have tried to use them, find them extremely difficult to master, understand, interact with. Computers have a well-earned reputation for alienhess and intractability. Much of the difficulty arises from the prevailing ways that computer programs communicate with people. Computer professionals have been preoccupied with commands and command languages, to the exclusion of the kinds of communication that people use most of the time with each other. To make use of a computer, people are forced into an unfamiliar command-oriented organization, and many cannot make this extreme transition. By expanding the scope of human-computer interaction methods to include other styles of interaction, computer systems can be made more compatible with the computer-naive potential user. This enhanced compatability will open up new applications in which computer-naive people make direct use of computers to extend their working abilities. This paper identifies the gap between today's dominant styles of person-computer communication and interpersonal communication, and suggests the developments needed to make computers more people-compatible. WHY THINGS ARE SO BAD FOR THE COMPUTER-NAIVE USER This paper is about people's use of computers to get work done. Computers are tools that operate on symbols. Unlike many other tools, such as eggbeaters, telephones and automobiles, most people in our culture seem to regard computers as alien, mysterious and inherently difficult to use. While some of this view is based on mere hearsay, it is nonetheless held by many who have had some experience with computer systems.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 19% of the total text.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Why Things Are So Bad for the Computer-Naive User

William C. Mann

ARPA ORDER R'0. 2930

5pUTHpr ISI /RR -75- 32 March 1975 INFORMATION SCIENCES INSTITUTE 4676 Admiralty WaylMarinadel ReylCalifornia 90291 UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA fTT (213 822-1511

THIS RESEARCH WAS SUPPORTED BY THE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY HUMAN RESOURCES RESEARCH OFFICE UNDER CONTRACT N0. N00014 75 C 0710, ARPA ORDER N0. 2930. VIEWS AND CONCLUSIONS CONTAINED IN THIS STUDY ARE THE AUTHOR'S AND SHOULD NOT BE INTERPRETED AS NECESSARILY REPESENTING THE OFFICIAL OPINION OR POLICY OF ARPA, THE U. S. GOVERNMENT OR ANY OTHER PERSON OR AGENCY CONNECTED WITH THEM. THIS DOCUMENT APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE AND SALE; DISTRIBUTION IS UNLIMITED.

ABSTRACT

Many people who use computers, or have tried to use them, find them extremely difficult to master, understand, interact with. Computers have a well-earned reputation for alienhess and intractability.

Much of the difficulty arises from the prevailing ways that computer programs communicate with people. Computer professionals have been preoccupied with commands and command languages, to the exclusion of the kinds of communication that people use most of the time with each other. To make use of a computer, people are forced into an unfamiliar command-oriented organization, and many cannot make this extreme transition.

By expanding the scope of human-computer interaction methods to include other styles of interaction, computer systems can be made more compatible with the computer-naive potential user. This enhanced compatability will open up new applications in which computer-naive people make direct use of computers to extend their working abilities. This paper identifies the gap between today's dominant styles of person-computer communication and interpersonal communication, and suggests the developments needed to make computers more people- compatible. WHY THINGS ARE SO BAD FOR THE COMPUTER-NAIVE USER

This paper is about people's use of computers to get work done. Computers are tools that operate on symbols. Unlike many other tools, such as eggbeaters, telephones and automobiles, most people in our culture seem to regard computers as alien, mysterious and inherently difficult to use. While some of this view is based on mere hearsay, it is nonetheless held by many who have had some experience with computer systems.

Why? Because many computer systems are in fact alien, mysterious and inherently difficult to use. This is true even for interactive systems, where the opportunities for accomodation of users are the greatest and the technical history is the richest.

University of Southern California Page 1 Dec 31, 1975

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Why Things Are So Bad for the Computer-Naive User

When people first attempt to use computers, they find that they must communicate with them. They are confronted with a variety of "interfaces," each possessing a "language" and so...