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Human Computer Interaction Theories - Essay Example

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Human- computer interaction (HCI) is the study of how people interact with computing technology. Certain central aspects of computers are as much a function of the nature of human beings as of the nature of the computers themselves. The relevance of both computer science and psychology to the design of programming languages and the interface is easy to argue, but psychological considerations enter into more topics in computer science than is usually realized.
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Human Computer Interaction Theories
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Download file to see previous pages New technologies continuously challenge HCI researchers with new options, as do the demands of new audiences and uses. A variety of usability methods have been developed that draw upon psychological principles. HCI research has expanded beyond its roots in the cognitive processes of individual users to include social and organizational processes involved in computer usage in real environments as well as the use of computers in collaboration. HCI researchers need to be mindful of the longer-term changes brought about by the use of computing in a variety of venues. One major area of work in the field focuses on the design of computer systems. The goal is to produce software and hardware that is useful, usable, and aesthetically pleasing. A closely aligned area is the evaluation of systems in use. This is related to design, because to know if a design is useful or usable requires observing it in use. However, this also extends to the study of the larger social consequences of use. Increasingly, evaluation takes place at multiple levels of analysis: the individual, the group, the organization, and the industry or societal sector. (The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction. Contributors: Stuart K. Card - author, Thomas P. Moran - author, Allen P. Newell - editor. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of Publication)
The methodological and conceptual issues at these different levels of evaluation are quite different. Psychologists are typically most interested in the smaller levels of aggregation, attempted to provide a largely psychological account of the "productivity paradox," a phenomenon first identified by economists who found a disappointing lack of correlation between the amount of money invested in information technology and changes in industry productivity measures.
Activity Theory
Activity theory (AT) is a method of organizing observations and a source of explanation. The concepts of this theory cluster around activity (conscious, practical, goal-directed human endeavors) and mediation (acts produce effects only through the help of culturally constructed tools). The concepts of activity and mediation provide insight into the co development of practice and technology through researcher's narrative accounts of the connections between purposeful activity and computer interfaces. Ascension of AT, has readily overcome a current crisis in HCI. The crisis was portrayed as a malaise induced by the impotence of HCI in actual design. HCI has been on the sidelines for most user interface breakthroughs, often offering only a running commentary on why the winners won and losers lost. HCI has been "unable to penetrate the human side of the interface".
According to Nardi, "A powerful and clarifying tool, rather than a strongly predictive theory". AT seeks to understand everyday practice within a broad historical and cultural context.
The central concept and basic unit of analysis of AT, is activity. An activity is a coherent, stable, relatively long-term endeavor directed to a definite goal or "object." Examples include tribal hunting, software development, and financial management. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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