Sanity check (humanizing computers)

Subject: Sanity check (humanizing computers)
From: Yvonne DeGraw <yvonne -at- SILCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 1996 08:51:05 -0700

One such study is "Computer-based Instruction and the Humanizing Impulse" in
Technical Communication, Vol. 36, Number 1 (1989). (I remembered the article
in part because one of the authors is Sam Dragga who taught a Technical
Writing classes I took in college.)

They found people had essentially the same reactions that Tom summarized.

Tom Neuburger <Tom_Neuburger -at- LTX-TR -dot- COM> wrote:
>It turns out (as I recall) that people feel more
>comfortable if the machine is treated like
>a machine, one whose response is predictable.
>("Do this--it does this. If it doesn't, it's broke.")

>They are less comfortable when the machine is
>personalized. This is opposite to many of our
>assumptions about documentation. An approach
>like "If the nice computer doesn't respond right
>away, maybe it wants you to press the Esc key"
>actually frightens folks who do -not- want the
>computer to be in charge. (Machines should not
>act like our relatives.)

>I don't have the reference for this literature
>now -- but the man who led the usability group
>has done some good work. If I find the book (I just
>moved), I'll send the name along.
Yvonne DeGraw, Technical Services o Web Authoring
yvonne -at- silcom -dot- com o Technical Writing o Database Design and Publishing
Tel: 805/683-5784 o User-Interface Design
~~~~~~~~ My latest project: ~~~~~~~~
The interactive Web authoring tutorial for AOLpress. Download AOLpress
at, install, run, and choose Help-->Tutorial.

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