Zeno's Paradox
While critical thinking may not make up for a lack of knowledge, it is essential for gaining knowledge.
Saturday, September 07, 2002:  

Human Factors:

Ten Best Intranets of 2002
This year's winning intranet designs emphasized integrated support of international offices, long development times (two years on average), one-stop start-up screens and single sign-in, and usability testing of interfaces for content contributors.
Nielsen in a Nutshell: Nielsen promotes his $64 report, "Intranet Design Annual 2002: Ten Best Intranets of the Year". In doing so, he manages to present some information that may be useful to usability novices.

On the embarrassing side, Nielsen pats himself on the back for a meaningless prediction:
In last year's Intranet Design Annual, we predicted that 2002 would be the year of the intranet, after a decade of neglect. Judging from the results of this year's design competition, we were right.
But wait, Nielsen says "Most of the winning projects spent about two years on their intranet redesigns". I guess that makes the prediction a bit easier to make when the winning companies had been gradually releasing their intranet changes over the two years.

    Information quality:   Medium - There is some good information here for usability novices.
    Propaganda quality:  Medium - This is blatant self-promotion, sometimes nonsensical.
    Propaganda level:     High - The article is a teaser for a $64 report.

    -  Ron  9:52 AM

Friday, September 06, 2002:  

Critical Thinking, Human Factors:

Following up on my comment yesterday on how little of Wilson's work is online, here's the abstract from one of his best known papers, Nisbett, R. E. and Wilson, T. D. (1977). "Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes". Psychological Review, 84, 231-259.
Evidence is reviewed which suggests that there may be little or no direct introspective access to higher order cognitive processes. Subjects are sometimes (a) unaware of the existence of a stimulus that importantly influenced a response, (b) unaware of the existence of the response, and (c) unaware that the stimulus has affected the response. It is proposed that when people attempt to report on their cognitive processes, that is, on the processes mediating the effects of a stimulus on a response, the do not do so on the basis of any true introspection. Instead, their reports are based on a priori, implicit casual theories or judgments about the extent to which a particular stimulus is a plausible cause of a given response. This suggests that though people may not be able to observe directly their cognitive processes, the will sometimes be able to report accurately about them. Accurate reports will occur when influential stimuli are salient and are plausible causes of the responses they produce, and will not occur the stimuli are not salient or are not plausible causes.
Fundamental research explaining why people's performance rarely matches their explanations of their performance, and why performance rarely matches preference.

    -  Ron  11:50 AM

Thursday, September 05, 2002:  

Critical Thinking, Human Factors:

Forget About Getting Up-Close With Your Unconscious Mind (paid subscription required)
Introspection about the unconscious can be worse than useless...

Maybe you tell yourself that you enjoy your job because you like your colleagues or wield power, or that you want to have kids because you love the little things. But "insights" like those, born of introspection, often misrepresent the situation, as you see when you subject them to conscious analysis: "Wait a minute, my colleagues resent me and the boss always vetoes my decisions." "I have zero patience!" If you have a gut feeling about love, work or life, it's probably best not to analyze it to death. The unexamined life has its virtues.
This is the second WSJ column covering some of the research findings presented in Prof. Timothy D. Wilson's new book, Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious. Pity that little of the research is available online.

Introspection is a poor tool for understanding the unconscious (and conscious) mind.

    -  Ron  6:41 PM

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