By the author of THE DESIGN OF EVERYDAY THINGS. Insightful and whimsical, profoundly intelligent and easily accessible, Don Norman has been exploring the design of our world for decades, exploring this complex relationship between humans and machines. In this seminal work, fully revised and updated, Norman gives us the first steps towards demanding a person-centered redesign of the machines we use every day. Humans have always worked with objects to extend our cognitive powers, from counting on our fingers to designing massive supercomputers. But advanced technology does more than merely assist with memory—the machines we create begin to shape how we think and, at times, even what we value. In THINGS THAT MAKE US SMART, Donald Norman explores the complex interaction between human thought and the technology it creates, arguing for the development of machines that fit our minds, rather than minds that must conform to the machine.
I have been increasingly bothered by the lack of reality in academic research. University-based research can be clever, profound, and deep, but surprisingly often it has little or no impact either upon scientific knowledge or upon society at large. University-based science is meant to impress one’s colleagues: What matters is precision, rigor, and reproducibility, even if the result bears little relevance to the phenomena under study. Whether the work has any relevance to broader issues is seldom addressed. This is a common problem in the human and social sciences, where the phenomena are especially complex, variable, and heavily influenced by context. Most academic study is designed to answer questions raised by previous academic studies. This natural propensity tends to make the studies ever more specialized, ever more esoteric, thereby removed even further from concerns and issues of the world.