In 1963, Dennis Gabor, Nobel laureate for his invention of the holograph, said "The future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented" (Gabor, 1963). This statement has become a mantra in recent times, attributed to many who are simply rephrasing Gabor. Alas, the slogan, wonderful though it may sound, is false. The most successful inventions transform the world in ways that are impossible to foresee at the time of the invention. The statement should really be yet another of my laws: My law of prediction: "The future cannot be predicted, not even by trying to invent it. Although inventions can change the future, their long-term impact cannot be predicted." So, invent all you like, just don't try to predict the impact several decades later.
Most recent essays
(In reverse chronological order, most recent first.)
Fully autonomous vehicles? Programmed to be safe, not to crash into me? Hey! I can ignore it. Drive or walk the street in front of it, regardless of traffic lights. Deliberately stand in front at an intersection, preventing it from moving forward. Hold a mirror in front of its video or laser sensors - that ought to confuse it. What a wonderful source for entertainment, tricks, and trouble making. Yup, autonomous vehicles.Norman, D. (2017). Foreseeing an unforeseen consequence. Perspective. Summer...
Distractibility isn't a human problem; it's a design problem, writes usability expert Don Norman. We need to reverse the normal technological strategy of asking people to fill in for gaps in machine performance. Instead, we should require machines to fill in for gaps in human performance. After all, technology was invented to enhance people's lives, not the other way around. Let's build technologies that empower us, allow us to use our creative abilities, and relieve us of the stuff we are not good at.
As automation and artificial intelligence technologies develop, we need to think less about the design of human-machine interfaces and more about the design of human-machine teamwork.
I am pleased to say that my paper with Steve Casner and Ed Hutchins, The Challenges of Partially Automated Driving, has been published in the Communications of the ACM. The creation of most-automated vehicles provides major challenges for us. For a long time I( have argued that the most dangerous part of the transition from manual to full automation is when the job is mostly complete -- which is precisely where we are today. The argument has been made many times. first by Lisanne Bainbridge in 1983 -- 33 years ago! I made the argument in 1990. Nothing has changed. In this paper, we once again warn that partial automation lulls drivers into a false sense of security. Moreover, people are especially bad at maintaining vigilance and a sense of situation awareness for long periods when nothing is happening or when their assistance is not needed. In the year 2014 (the latest year for which statistics are available), there was roughly one death for every 100 million vehicle miles. One per 100 million miles. Even so, there were over 33 million deaths in the United States plus roughly 1 million injuries. American drove almost 3 trillion miles.
Design started out as a craft, primarily focusing upon the creation of beautiful objects to become a powerful force in industry. Today, design has gone far beyond its simple origins as a craft to develop powerful new ways for people to interact with the world, emphasizing experience, not technology. Moreover, it has evolved into a way of thinking, of problem discovery, and of enhancing the lives of individuals, the experience of the workforce, and even the health of the planet. Are these new developments compatible with the craft traditions of the old? Is this a fork in the road, with some continuing the craft tradition of enhancing the emotional experiences of our products and others taking the other path, moving design thinking into all endeavors, but far removed from the history and mainstream practice of today. What is the future of design? We are at a fork: Which path should we take? I take my answer from the famed American baseball player Yogi Berra who said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
Chunka Mui wrote to say he was writing an article on autonomous cars and asked for my thoughts. He published his article in Forbes , and before I knew it, I was suddenly front and center into the debate about Tesla and autonomy.Here is the article:http://www.forbes.com/sites/chunkamui/2016/04/19/is-tesla-reckless/2/#ea36e8c40a4aAnd here is my response to the (fortunately very few) complaints. People really love their teslas and do not like any criticism.My reply is:Yes, I have experienced Tesla's autopilot (as well as the pre-release models from other OEMs)....
I am pleased to say that the paper by P.J. Stappers and me on DesignX has been published, along with several commentaries and then a response by the authors. With citation and URL for the package.
A video that is both instructional and fun. The article text concludes by saying "Don Norman's seminal book on design, The Design of Everyday Things, ... (p)ublished 25 years ago, it remains just as relevant today. Doors shouldn't need instructions. When most people complain about something, nothing happens. But Norman is not most people -- he's a psychologist and cognitive scientist. So his writing about his complaints is so incredibly thorough that he changed the way design works. And the "human-centered design" revolution he sparked changed not only how designers work, but also how people in fields like public health work to make the world a better place. This is why Melinda Gates believes human-centered design is one change that could save the world. To find out what all this has to do with crappy doors, watch the video."
Naomi Miyake, a brilliant Japanese researcher, a close friend and colleague, and one of my early PhD students, died this year (2015). Here are my reflections on her carer, published in the japanese Cognitive Science Society's journal: Cognitive Studies, 22(4), 1-38. (Dec. 2015)
- All Books
- The Design of Everyday Things, Revised and Expanded Edition
- Living with complexity
- The Design of Future Things
- Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things
- The invisible computer
- Things That Make us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine
- Turn Signals Are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles
- The Design of Everyday Things