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Book Reviews

Submission + - Survey of Human Centered Informatics (

kodiaktau writes: My exposure to HCI or Human Computer Interaction (now Human Centered Informatics) has been largely aged and limited to some brief early interaction with the Association of Computing Machinery. Since then I have been loosely following trends in usability but haven't really focused on the actual science behind the work we do on a day-to-day basis in creating user interfaces and using web applications. When I picked up this book I assumed it would be some unifying theory of HCI that would catch me up with where the science is today, but found it to be quite different.

In 113 pages, including the author biography, Yvonne Rogers winds a curious path through not only the theories behind HCI, but also a significant portion of time is spent giving some background in the history of the study. I was pleased to find that science is evolving and has spent a significant amount of time working with other social science disciplines as well as technical interaction. It was also interesting to see that like other social based disciplines there are many forks from the origin. I liked this book's style of simple presentation around theories. Most authors would trip over themselves trying to find long and complicated ways of explaining theory and purpose. This author is straight to the point and has practical examples for the different phases of the HCI theory evolution. In particular I really liked the way she included " a Nutshell" summaries of each theory. In a very small area she re-stated theory in an easy to digest manner. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a "For Dummies" kind of book, but the presentation is simple, elegant and well, usable.

The limited number of pages in the title may dissuade readers from purchasing, however this is not a case of more-is-better. I spent a lot of time reading this book in small chunks so I could completely understand each theory and how it evolved from previous models both inside the science and from other disciplines. While this book isn't for everyone I would certainly recommend this to someone moving into HCI studies, or for those who have interest in user interaction and classical theory. My biggest disappointment with this title was the quality of some diagrams supporting the theories. There is a lot of pixelation in some of the art and the fonts used in them can be a little hard to read. Really the publisher should have fixed those issues before going to print. As a survey of the body of knowledge I think this is really good. It is a little on pricey side at $35 for the amount of material, but the quality and uniqueness seems to be about right for the price.

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Survey of Human Centered Informatics

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