Accuracy of things being said machines should judge

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accuracy of things being said, machines should judge the quality of information given it, in this case to help its operators avoid grievous errors because of simple slips (discussed in Chapter 5). Today, we insist that people perform abnormally, to adapt themselves to the peculiar demands of machines, which includes always giving precise, accurate information. Humans are particularly bad at this, yet when they fail to meet the arbitrary, inhuman requirements of machines, we call it human error. No, it is design error. Designers should strive to minimize the chance of inappropriate actions in the first place by using affordances, signifiers, good mapping, and constraints to guide the actions. If a person performs an inappropriate action, the design should maximize the chance that this can be discovered and then rectified. This requires good, intelligible feedback coupled with a simple, clear conceptual model. When people understand what has happened, what state the system is in, and what the most appropriate set of actions is, they can perform their activities more effectively. 68 The Design of Everyday Things People are not machines. Machines don t have to deal with continual interruptions. People are subjected to continual interruptions. As a result, we are often bouncing back and forth between tasks, having to recover our place, what we were doing, and what we were thinking when we return to a previous task. No wonder we sometimes forget our place when we return to the original task, either skipping or repeating a step, or imprecisely retaining the information we were about to enter. Our strengths are in our flexibility and creativity, in coming up with solutions to novel problems. We are creative and imaginative, not mechanical and precise. Machines require precision and accuracy; people don t. And we are particularly bad at providing precise and accurate inputs. So why are we always required to do so? Why do we put the requirements of machines above those of people? When people interact with machines, things will not always go smoothly. This is to be expected. So designers should anticipate this. It is easy to design devices that work well when everything
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goes as planned. The hard and necessary part of design is to make things work well even when things do not go as planned. HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN ACCOMMODATE HUMAN BEHAVIOR In the past, cost prevented many manufacturers from providing useful feedback that would assist people in forming accurate conceptual models. The cost of color displays large and flexible enough to provide the required information was prohibitive for small, inexpensive devices. But as the cost of sensors and displays has dropped, it is now possible to do a lot more. Thanks to display screens, telephones are much easier to use than ever before, so my extensive criticisms of phones found in the earlier edition of this book have been removed. I look forward to great improvements in all our devices now that the importance of these design
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