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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kim Vicente is one of the clearest authors I've read.
This was one of those books that is totally effortless to read. I attribute this to Kim Vicente's obvious passion for what he does, and his interesting ideas, research, and teaching, but most of all to his extraordinary ability to express himself.
I've read many similar books, like Normal Accidents, Human Error, and most of Donald A. Norman's books, and enjoyed them...
Published on July 17 2004

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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not an original idea
Human-tech is a phrase Vicente supposedly coined...however, it is a phrase found throughout the human factors profession and is even the name of a human factors company. This example is a metaphor for the entire book - a restatement of other people's ideas, much of which has been published in countless other domains - absolutely no new thinking here. The idea that...
Published on June 27 2004


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kim Vicente is one of the clearest authors I've read., July 17 2004
By A Customer
This was one of those books that is totally effortless to read. I attribute this to Kim Vicente's obvious passion for what he does, and his interesting ideas, research, and teaching, but most of all to his extraordinary ability to express himself.
I've read many similar books, like Normal Accidents, Human Error, and most of Donald A. Norman's books, and enjoyed them all, but this one was probably the most enjoyable. It's very logical and well-designed, and does a great job of clearly explaining past disasters like Chernobyl and TMI. I was especially enthralled, as well as appalled, by the description of the Walkerton Ontario public water disaster as an example of a system failure. This was the first I heard of that one.
His recommendations and predictions for the way forward are eminently sensible and practical. I especially liked the possibility of instituting anonymous incident reporting systems like the Aviation Safety Reporting System in medicine and industry.
But most of all I'm very glad that such an excellent thinker, author, and teacher is following up and developing the groundbreaking and critically important work of Jens Rasmussen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making technology safe for humans, April 8 2004
Ever since Charlie Chaplin parodied automation in Modern Times, we have known what happens when we ignore the human factor in technology, but we continue to produce dangerous and unusable devices.
Dr Vicente, a professor of human factors engineering, claims that we need to define technology in much broader terms than we usually do in order to avoid a "Cyclopean fixation on either mechanistic or humanistic world views." We need, in fact, to consider the entire legal, psychological, organizational and political environment in which technology is embedded. The author calls this approach Human-tech.
Consider that one of the reasons that hospitals continue to kill patients, even after badly designed equipment is identified, is that medical personnel dare not openly admit error, because of the severe career and legal consequences. This type of problem goes beyond traditional technical design issues of usability or ergonomics.
Ultimately, Dr Vicente is optimistic that we can and will resolve these problems. He offers the commercial airline industry as an example. In 2001, despite the horrendous murders on September 11th, the total number of major airline crashes was fewer than in any year since World War II. What the aviation industry did for commercial flights, we can do for our healthcare system, airport security, or anything we want to turn our hand to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and entertaining, Oct. 20 2003
With an open, friendly style, Vicente manages to explore the use - and misuse - of technology all around us, from our day-to-day life to critical systems like health care and nuclear plants. Vicente has a gift for weaving a web and linking elements from seemingly unrelated fields and linking them together in a thoroughly convincing manner. As he himself advocates here, the author has not written this book to assign blame for the current "bad fit" between technology-for-its-own-sake and people, but instead focuses on laying a groundwork towards a more balanced, manageable and safe design and application of technology.
This fascinating, engaging book is a must-read for anyone whose car has grown too complicated, whose VCR keeps blinking 12:00, or who feels that technology has got out of hand. It's probably not the best book for someone about to undergo a stay in hospital...
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Eye Opening and Common Sense Approach to Technology, Oct. 16 2003
By A Customer
We're ready for the Human-tech revolution! This book is extremely relevant today and attacks the issue of techology throwing our lives into chaos with common sense. I thought the book was a great read - like having a conversation with the author and you learn something without feeling like the message is being shoved down your throat. The examples given to outline good designs versus bad designs were well thought out. I think Vicente's idea of designing products with a user in mind is revolutionary. It is only a matter of time before engineers and designers catch on to this idea.. and just think of the consequences - we (the consumers) would no longer feel like "technological idiots".
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5.0 out of 5 stars so you say you want a revolution......, Oct. 16 2003
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michele (melbourne, australia) - See all my reviews
This book describes all the frustrations I've ever had with technology that is supposed to improve my work and my life. Vicente examines the problem not only with an engineer's understanding of design but also with a sharp eye on human nature. From photocopiers to nuclear power plants, he presents an intelligent, engaging and entertaining argument for changing our view of the world. However, unlike most general books in this area, he does more than raise questions-he offers a way forward, a framework for making humans the centre of design-a revolutionary concept! This is a book everyone should read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A scientific and social assessment of modern technology, May 2 2004
Modern technology may ably supply the equipment and new convenience features people desire, but lacks the ability to consider or correct human error in using it. Kim Vicente argues for the need for technology that works easily for its users in his The Human Factor: Revolutionizing The Way People Live With Technology, which goes beyond argument to pint out how to bridge the widening gap between people and technology. From hand-eye coordination to matching complex human systems to easier consumer products, this provides both a scientific and social assessment of modern technology.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not an original idea, June 27 2004
By A Customer
Human-tech is a phrase Vicente supposedly coined...however, it is a phrase found throughout the human factors profession and is even the name of a human factors company. This example is a metaphor for the entire book - a restatement of other people's ideas, much of which has been published in countless other domains - absolutely no new thinking here. The idea that systems should be designed from a legal, sociological, psychological, engineering, etc. approach has been in practice for some time and Vicente seems to ignore an entire field of research that has taken place in the science, technology, and society (STS) domain.
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1 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What was the point?, Sept. 18 2003
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Probably a good book in the abstract but for those of us in the real world, not very useful.  The book is out-of-touch with reality and seems to take on a niave, inexperienced approach that resonates with Ivory Tower insecurities and paternalism.  A much better book in this same genre is Steven Casey's "Set Phasers on Stun."  It gets the point across succinctly in an entertaining manner and without all the patronizing preaching from the podium.
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The Human Factor: Revolutionizing the Way People Live with Technology
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