Zeno's Paradox
While critical thinking may not make up for a lack of knowledge, it is essential for gaining knowledge.
Friday, August 16, 2002:  
Human Factors:
Tomalak's Realm
Tomalak's Realm is a daily source of links to strategic Web design stories.
The description may be a bit vague, but Lawrence Lee does a good job of finding a small number of interesting articles each day for Tomalak's Realm.

Making Mistakes Well: Increase Online Revenue With Contingency Design
Contingency design is design for when things go wrong. It's error messaging, graphic design, instructive text, information architecture, and customer service that helps visitors when a problem occurs.
    Information quality:   High
    Propaganda quality:  Medium
    Propaganda level:     Medium

    -  Ron  7:19 AM

Thursday, August 15, 2002:  
Critical Thinking, Human Factors:
Smart People Believe Weird Things
Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro and con, and choose the most logical and rational explanation, regardless of what we previously believed. Most of us, most of the time, come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning... We...select those that most confirm what we already believe, and ignore or rationalize away those that do not. ... The key here is teaching how science works, not just what science has discovered.
Shermer's column is always worth reading, this one especially so.

I see a great deal of fear and disdain for science and research from those practicing human factors for the web. In doing so, they not only restrict the development of their own skills and knowledge, they open themselves to those who would take advantage of their ignorance and credulity.

    -  Ron  6:50 AM

Wednesday, August 14, 2002:  
Human Factors:
Technology on Docks: Fears Despite Promises
The (contract) proposal, to install new technology to cut costs and speed cargo handling, would eliminate 400 longshoremen's jobs on the West Coast, management officials acknowledge.
But negotiators for the shipping lines say Mr. Womack and other longshoremen fail to understand that by cutting costs the management proposal would make the ports more competitive, meaning additional jobs at the docks.
Union officials say they do not oppose new technologies that increase efficiency. But they fear that management will use the technologies to transform union jobs into nonunion management positions and move union jobs off the piers, so nonunion workers do the work.
The proposed technology that is causing so much conflict? "Optical scanners, the Internet and satellite geopositioning to monitor shipments and speed trucks into ports". It's relatively simple technology that has been available for many years.

Changes in technology can cause widespread changes in behavior and social structures. The heaviest resistance to technological changes occur when those who are affected most by the changes do not benefit from the changes.

    -  Ron  10:16 AM

Tuesday, August 13, 2002:  
Human Factors, Critical Thinking:
Brand names bring special brain buzz
It is what every advertiser would have dreamed of - brand names have a unique impact on our brains.
common names were most easily recognised in the right visual field - which connects most strongly to the left side of the brain. But this effect was less strong for the brand names, suggesting the right side of the brain plays a bigger role in identifying brand names.
I was taught that hemispheric differences in the brain ("left-brain" and "right-brain" differences) are gross exaggerations and generally misunderstood - pseudoscience. Note that in the article it is the "brand strategist" who relates the findings to emotion, not the authors of the paper.

I am not surprised at the study's results (nor were the paper's authors). Brand names are processed more like proper names than common nouns or nonwords. Simply, brand names are similar to proper names. Surprised!?

References on Hemispheric Differences in the Brain:
"Left brain, Right brain" by John McCrone.
Left Brain, Right Brain: Perspective from Cognitive Neuroscience by Springer and Deutsch, 5th edition (October 1997), ISBN: 0716731118.

    -  Ron  7:34 AM

Monday, August 12, 2002:  
Human Factors, Business:
Keyboard for Those on the Move
though his patent is named "Stealthy Keyboard," it is somewhat imprecise to call it that since it lacks the traditional "board." Rather, it fits inside a cupped palm, hooks around the thumb and forefinger, and is operated by using the fingertips and the mid-section of fingers to press the keys.
An inventor receives major news coverage for his newly patented, one-handed, chord-input device. More interesting than the device itself is how early it is in development. Currently the inventor has a patent, some very crude prototypes, and a website containing basic information on the device. No nice, non-working prototypes from an industrial designer, just a simple diagram that was part of his patent filing. The inventor has some high hopes for the product's ergonomics. It will be interesting to see if any will be ascertained.

    -  Ron  7:48 AM

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