April 26, 2004


Questionnaires in Usability Engineering

Over the years, I have seen many questions asked about the use of questionnaires in usability engineering. The list on this page is a compilation of the questions I have heard most often and the answers I gave, should have given, or would have given if I had thought of it first.

Compiled by: Jurek Kirakowski
Human Factors Research Group, Cork, Ireland.

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Where to get Wiki

Scraped from the Sigia-L mailing list... lots of good places to get Wiki.

  • PHP wiki - http://phpwiki.sourceforge.net/
  • Kwiki - http://www.kwiki.org/
  • Twiki - http://www.twiki.org/
  • Moin wiki - http://moin.sourceforge.net/
  • UseMod wiki - http://www.usemod.com/cgi-bin/wiki.pl
  • Wacko wiki - http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WackoWiki and a blog about how to install it
Posted by Ant at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 19, 2004

Magnetic Creativity

The genius machine is a fascinating article featured in New Scientist about research into the brain and the seat of genius and creativity. Allan Snyder, the professor behind this research is persuing a way to override the brain's normal functions of pattern matching, in order to achieve a heightened ability to process certain information.

"In Snyder's view, what savants lack is mindsets. They experience only raw sensory information, and their precise drawings are a reflection of that. The reason most people can't draw like that is because their mindsets get in the way. Once the brain forms a concept, it inhibits the conscious mind from becoming aware of the details that created that concept in the first place. So instead of drawing what you see, you draw what you know."

Edward de Bono has long looked at creativity and ways to enhance it. His technique of Lateral Thinking is about getting a different perspective on a problem in order to solve it creatively. To escape your preconceptions or 'mindset'.

The idea of being able to enforce this change in mindset through magnetic fields is intriguing, if a little scary. The New Scientist article goes on to argue that perhaps this will or won't lead to leaps in creativity, but tests show it certainly does something.

Any research I've done into creativity seems to hinge on this concept of shifting logic, or indeed turning it off. Roger von Oech's Creative Whack Pack and Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies use cards of random concepts to jolt or suprise the user into a different thought pattern. When tied back to the original problem (the 'lateral' bridge of thought), new and innovative solutions can be found.

In art college, you are taught to draw looking at negative space (the space in between objects, rather than the object itself), or using your less dominant hand. The results are always surprising. Not always better, but looser and more natural and somehow realistic. In design school, we were taught word association as a tool for creating original concepts. Our 'creativity' became stronger with practice, showing the brain to be merely another muscle that develops according to how it is used, rather than being bestowed with certain gifts. All these tools exercise the right hemisphere, or the creative side of the brain. Perhaps Allan Snyder is sticking magnets on the wrong side of people's heads.

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April 09, 2004

Interaction Desginers - Marc Rettig

Marc Rettig came to talk to the innaugural London meeting of a new group known simply as Interaction Designers a few weeks ago. He has a great case study on designing the interaction for a complex CAT (computerized axial tomography) scanning-cum-arterial-surgery-planning device. There was one tool he's developed for analysing the context surrounding task flow that looks particularly useful. It's well worth closer inspection and captures information about: Required Information; Required Knowledge; Potential Errors; Success Conditions; Barriers to Success; Cognitive Task; Ongoing Concerns for each task the application must facilitate. See it in his and Brian Herzfeldt's paper entitled 'Interaction design case: VasSol CANVAS' which can be found under the 'Project Case Study' section on Marc's site

The Interaction Designers mailing list has been a little quiet to date, but It's only a baby. The start of something purely for interaction design is a good thing, as there's a few communitites dedicated to Information Architecture that spill over into interaction issues as it pertains to information design. But, the wider field of interaction design that covers the physical world as well as the etherial, is better equipped to inspire those within this specific dicipline. Now to see if it can overcome Clay Shirky's Power Law

Marc's done a lot of work toward forming a syllabus for teaching interaction design at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design. It's well documented on the AIGA site here. It's just the sort of inspiration we need here at 'The Corporation' in order to formulate our own interaction design training syllabus. I'd be grateful for any suggestions of areas to cover. What do people learning interaction design need to know most? What don't they absolutely have to know, but should?

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April 06, 2004

Topic Maps well explained

This Article by Lars Marius Garshol at Ontopia is very good and been well recieved by those on the sigia-l information architecture mailing list. Well worth a read if you want to start comparing Topic Maps with more traditional approaches to organising information.

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