In this book about the darker side of technology's impact on our lives, Alan Cooper begins by explaining that unlike other devices throughout history, computers have a "meta function:" an unwanted, unforeseen option that users may accidentally invoke with what they thought was a normal keystroke. Cooper details many of these meta functions to explain his central thesis: programmers need to seriously reevaluate the many user-hostile concepts deeply embedded within the software development process.
Rather than provide users with a straightforward set of options, programmers often pile on the bells and whistles and ignore or deprioritize lingering bugs. For the average user, increased functionality is a great burden, adding to the recurrent chorus that plays, "computers are hard, mysterious, unwieldy things." (An average user, Cooper asserts, who doesn't think that way or who has memorized all the esoteric commands and now lords it over others, has simply been desensitized by too many years of badly designed software.)
Cooper's writing style is often overblown, with a pantheon of cutesy terminology (i.e., "dancing bearware") and insider back-patting. (When presenting software to Bill Gates, he reports that Gates replied: "How did you do that?" to which he writes, "I love stumping Bill!") More seriously, he is also unable to see beyond software development's importance--a sin he accuses programmers of throughout the book.
Even with that in mind, the central questions Cooper asks are too important to ignore: Are we making users happier? Are we improving the process by which they get work done? Are we making their work hours more effective? Cooper looks to programmers, business managers, and what he calls "interaction designers" to question current assumptions and mindsets. Plainly, he asserts that the goal of computer usage should be "not to make anyone feel stupid." Our distance from that goal reinforces the need to rethink entrenched priorities in software planning. --Jennifer Buckendorff --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Imagine, at a terrifyingly aggressive rate, everything you regularly use is being equipped with computer technology. Think about your phone, cameras, cars-everything-being automated and programmed by people who in their rush to accept the many benefits of the silicon chip, have abdicated their responsibility to make these products easy to use. The Inmates Are Running the Asylum argues that the business executives who make the decisions to develop these products are not the ones in control of the technology used to create them. Insightful and entertaining, The Inmates Are Running the Asylum uses the author's experiences in corporate America to illustrate how talented people continuously design bad software-based products and why we need technology to work the way average people think. Somewhere out there is a happy medium that makes these types of products both user and bottom-line friendly; this book discusses why we need to quickly find that medium.See all Product Description
The book does a fair job of pointing out the problems with the complexity of modern technology, and offers some administrative solutions that have worked for the author as a... Read morePublished on Aug. 7 2010 by Gord McKenna
I work for a large computer company that makes software. This book was instrumental in creating and organizing our human interface engineering department. Read morePublished on Feb. 17 2004
Cooper gets it. He understands that computers and electronics are designed by engineeers, for engineers. But what if you want to design something for the masses? Read morePublished on Dec 24 2003 by Gregory Glockner
This book actually starts out nicely up until the point where it turns into a high-pitched whine about everything that the author hates. Read morePublished on Oct. 11 2003 by A Reviewer
This book is written for two audiences. The frustrated computer user will enjoy the early chapters with its anecdotes about computers failing to meet human needs. Read morePublished on Sept. 25 2003 by Chris Struble
I kept thinking "we think alike"; not about interaction design per se - the topic of this book - but an evangelistic passion and the desire to somehow convey the deep... Read morePublished on May 29 2003 by R. Jones
Super book. I've been involved on the business side of web, portal and content management software projects for many years; this is the best argument on the market for bringing... Read morePublished on May 8 2003 by Alden Globe
I found I really had to force myself to finish reading this book. The core concepts are covered in the first half of the book, albeit in a rather drawn out fashion, and the rest is... Read morePublished on April 30 2003 by Ray Hatfield
This is a good book that i read last month. I wanted to write it but thanks that Alan did it. so i think this is a common problem felt by all usability engineers. Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2003 by sameer chavan