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Human Computer Interaction

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Learning Goals

As the aim of this lecture is to introduce you the study of Human Computer
Interaction, so that after studying this you will be able to:

. Describe the significance of HCI, particularly adverse impact of computer
technology on humans and reasons for these adverse effects

. Describe the nature of humans and computers

. Understand the Paradox of the computing phenomena

. Differentiate between focus of SE and HCI

2.1 Definition of HCI

“Human-Computer Interaction is a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation
and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the
study of major phenomena surrounding them”

2.2 Reasons of non-bright Aspects

Airplane + Computer

In last lecture we were discussing the incident of airplane. Today we will look at the
reason of such a fatal incident.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigated, and ---as usual---declared the
problem human error. The navigational aid the pilots were following was valid but not

for the landing procedure at Cali. In the literal definition of the phrase, this was
indeed human error, because the pilot selected the wrong fix. However, in the larger
picture, it was not the pilot’s fault at all.
The front panel of the airplane’s navigation computer showed the currently selected
navigation fix and a course deviation indicator. When the plane is on course, the
needle is centered, but the needle gives no indication whatsoever about the
correctness of the selected radio beacon. The gauge looks pretty much the same just
before landing as it does just before crashing. The computer told the pilot he was
tracking precisely to the beacon he had selected. Unfortunately, it neglected to tell
him the beacon the selected was a fatal choice.
The flight computer on Flight 965 could easily have told the pilots that ROMEO was
not an appropriate fix for their approach to Cali. Even a simple hint that it was
“unusual” or “unfamiliar” could have saved the airplane. Instead, it seemed as though
the computer was utterly unconcerned with the actual flight and its passengers. It
cared only about its own internal computations

Joke in Computer Industry

There is a widely told joke in the computer industry that goes like this: A man is
flying in a small airplane and is lost in the clouds. He descends until he spots an office
building and yells to a man in an open window, “Where am I?” The man replies,
“You are in an airplane about 100 feet above the ground.” The pilot immediately
turns to the proper course, spots the airport and lands. His astonished passenger asks
how the pilot figured out which way to go. The pilot replies, “The answer the man
gave me was completely correct and factual, yet it was no help whatsoever, so I knew
immediately he was a software engineer who worked for Microsoft and I know where
Microsoft’s building is in relation to the airport.”
When seen in the light of the tragedy of Flight 965, the humor of the joke is macabre,
yet professionals in the digital world tell it gleefully and frequently because it
highlights a fundamental truth about computers:
They may tell us facts but they don’t inform us.
They may guide us with precision but they don’t guide us where we want to go. The
flight computer on Flight 965 could easily have told the pilots that ROMEO was not
an appropriate fix for their approach to Cali. Even a simple hint that it was “unusual”
or “unfamiliar” could have saved the airplane. Instead, it seemed as though the
computer was utterly unconcerned with the actual flight and its passengers. It cared
only about its own internal computations
Communication can be precise and exacting while still being tragically wrong. This
happens all too frequently when we communicate with computers, and computers are
invading every aspect of our modern lives. From the planes we fly to just about every
consumer product and service, computers are ubiquitous, and so is their
characteristically poor way of communicating and behaving.[1]


I-Drive Car Device

It takes automotive computer power to a whole new level. Computer systems provide
the car with BMW's most powerful engine, a silky smooth ride and what is supposed
to be the simplest in-dash control system available. But what is created for the sake of
simplicity can often time creates the most confusion.

Many controls are operated with a single large, multifunction knob located in the
console between the front seats. The control consists of a combination rotary and push
button for selecting functions. Confirmation of the selected mode is displayed on a
dash-mounted screen.
Users can change functions -- from communications to climate control, navigation or
entertainment -- by pushing the console knob forward or back, or side-to-side. By
twisting the knob, they can scroll through menus. And by clicking a button located in
the middle of the knob, they can select functions.
"iDrive" takes into account the fact that comfort, communication and driver assistance
functions are only rarely adjusted while driving. The operating unit in the center
console gives the driver direct access to many other driving functions and information
and communication options. Several hundred functions can be controlled with this
A computer-type monitor is positioned directly within the driver's line of vision to the
road ahead. The large monitor in the center of the dashboard displays all the
information the driver needs, apart from the speedometer and tachometer, which are
conventional analog instruments.

The driver slides the dial to choose between multiple control menus displayed on an in-dash
LCD screen. The driver rotates the dial to move through lists and pushes the dial axially to
select a list item.

After reading that I didn't feel like I had any sort of idea what 'axially' meant, but I
suppose this video helps. What concerns me about this is the interaction with this little
device requires the driver, hurtling down the road, to look at a screen. They say there
is force feedback that indicates the menu, but that's only half the equation, because
there are things in the menus. So, I'm guessing the driver needs to memorize the
menus, which are sure to be short, so think about the mental modeling here.
To really keep your eyes on the road, you have to be able to do everything by feel and
pattern. Is this easier than hot-cold air sliders, vent selection buttons and radio dials?

It takes 15 minutes to change a Radio Channel. The fundamental flaw: you absolutely
have to take your eyes off the road to change settings. Result is constant Calls to Help

Feature Shock

Every digital device has more features than its manual counterpart, but manual
devices easier to use. Hi-tech companies add more features to improve product.
Product becomes complicated
Bad process can’t improve product

Computer + Bank

A computer! Whenever I withdraw cash from an automatic teller machine (ATM), I
encounter the same sullen and difficult behavior so universal with computers. If I
make the slightest mistake, it rejects the entire transaction and kicks me out of the
process. I have to pull my card out, reinsert it, reenter my PIN code, and then re-assert
my request. Typically, it wasn’t my mistake, either, but the ATM computer finesses
me into a misstep. It always asks me whether I want to withdraw money from my
checking, saving, or money market account, even though I have only checking
account. Subsequently, I always forget which type it is, and the question confuses me.
About once a month I inadvertently select “savings”, and the infernal machine
summarily boots me out of the entire transaction to start over the beginning. To reject
“savings”, the machine has to know that I don’t have a saving account, yet it still
offers it to me as a choice. The only difference between me selecting “saving” and the
pilot of Flight 965 selecting “ROMEO” is the magnitude of the penalty.
The ATM has rules that must be followed, and I am quite willing to follow them, but
it is unreasonably computer-like to fail to inform me of them, giving me contradictory
indications, and then summarily punish me for innocently transgressing them. This
behavior---so typical of computers---is not intrinsic to them. Actually nothing is
intrinsic to computers: they merely act on behalf of their software, the program. And
programs are as malleable as human speech. A person can speak rudely of politely,
helpfully or sullenly. It is as simple for a computer to behave with respect and
courtesy as it is for a human to speak that way. All it takes is for someone to describe
how. Unfortunately, programmers aren’t very good at teaching that to computers.
In order to solve some of these problems, here comes the relatively new and emerging
field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI).[1]

2.3 Human verses Computer

Human species

Human beings are the most interesting and fascinating specie on planet. They are the
most complex living being on the earth. It has very much diversity in its nature. It is
intelligent in its deeds. Human beings think and decide according to their own will.
Yes, they are free in nature. They like freedom. They think on a problem dynamically
and they can find many solutions that may not exist before. They can invent. They are
not only rational but they also have emotions. They also think emotionally. They act

emotionally. And fortunately or unfortunately they make mistakes. They make
mistakes which some time become fatal for them and some time they become blessing
for them.

Computer species

On contrast, computers are the invention of human being. They are also complex but
they are also pretty dumb. It can also think but it can’t think on its own will, it thinks
how it has been directed to think. No doubt its speed is marvelous. It does not tire. It
is emotionless. It has no feelings, no desires. It works how it has been commanded to
work. And they do not make mistakes.
Before penetration of computers in our daily life, human beings were performing their
tasks at their on responsibility. In a business domain human beings were dealing and
interacting with each other’s. For example a store manager was dealing with all the
workers performing their different duties in the store. Some one was registering the
new arrivals of products, some one was numbering the products and many more…and
store manager has to interact with all these human beings. If some one was a
salesperson, he used to interact with different clients and used to deal with them
according to their mood and desire. He could judge their mood with their tone, their
attitude and with their body language. He could provide answers relevant to their
But now in this age of information technology we are expecting computers to mimic
human behavior e.g. ECommerce systems, now there is no need for a salesperson.
Web sites are behaving as a salesperson or as a shopping mal. That is now; a dumb,
unintelligent and inanimate object will perform the complex task which was
performed by some human being.

2.4 Software Apartheid


Racial segregation; specifically: a policy of segregation and political and economic
discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of South Africa.
[Definition of apartheid]

Software Apartheid

Institutionalizing obnoxious behavior and obscure interactions of software-based
products. [Definition of software apartheid]
Programmers generally work in high-tech environments, surrounded by their technical
peers in enclaves like Silicon Valley. Software engineers constantly encounter their
peers when they shop, dine out, take their kids to school and relax, while their contact
with frustrated computer users is limited. What’s more, the occasional unfocused
gripes of the users are offset by the frequent enthusiasm of the knowledgeable elite.
We forget how far removed our peers and we are from the frustration and inability of
the rest of the country (not to mention the world) to use interactive tools.

We industry insiders toss around the term “computer literacy”, assuming that in order
to use computers; people must acquire some fundamental level of training. We see
this as a simple demand that is not hard and is only right and proper. We imagine that
it is not much to ask of users that they grasp the rudiments of how the machines work
in order to enjoy their benefits. But it is too much to ask. Having a computer literate
customer base makes the development process much easier—of their can be no
doubt—but it hampers the growth and success of the industry and of society.
Apologists counter with the argument that you must have training and a license to
drive a car, but they overlook the fact that a mistake with software generally does not.
If cars were not so deadly, people would train themselves to derive the same way they
learn excel.
It has another, more insidious effect. It creates a demarcation line between the haves
and have-nots in society. If you must master a computer in order to succeed in
America’s job Market beyond a burger-flipper’s carriers, then the difficulty of
mastering interactive systems forces many people into menial jobs rather than
allowing them to matriculate into more productive, respected and better-paying jobs.
Users should not have to acquire computer literacy to use computer for common,
rudimentary task in everyday life. Users should not have to possess a digital
sensitivity to work their VCR, microwave oven, or to get e-mail. What’s more, should
not have to acquire computer literacy to use computer for enterprise applications,
where the user is already trained in the application domain. An accountant for
example, who is trained in the general principles of accounting, should not have to
become computer literate to use a computer in her accounting practice. Her domain
knowledge should be enough to see her through.
As our economy shifts more and more onto information bases, we are inadvertently
creating a divided society. The upper class is composed of those who have mastered
the nuances of differentiating between “RAM” and “Hard Disk”. The lower class is
that who treat the difference inconsequential. The irony is that the difference really is
inconsequential to any one except a few hard-core engineers. Yet virtually allcontemporary
software forces its users to confront a file system, where your success
fully dependent on knowing the difference between RAM and disk.
Thus the term “computer literacy” becomes a euphemism for social and economic
apartheid. Computer literacy is a key phrase that brutally bifurcates our society.
But about those people who are not inclined to pander to technocrats and who can not
or will not become computer literate? These people, many by choice, but most by
circumstances, are falling behind in the information revolution. Many high-tech
companies, for example, would not even consider for employment any applicant who
does not have an e-mail address. I’m sure that there are many otherwise qualified
candidates out there who cannot get the hired because they are not yet wired. Despite
the claims of the Apologists, using e-mail effectively is difficult and involves a
significant level of computer literacy. Therefore, it artificially segregates the work
force. It is the model equivalent of the banking technique of “red lining”. In this
illegal procedure, all houses in a given neighborhood are declared unacceptable as
controller for a housing loan. Although the red lines on the map are ostensibly drawn

around economic contours, they tend to follow racial lines all too closely bankers
protest that they are not racists, but the effect is the same.
When programmers speak of “computer literacy”, they are drawing red lines around
ethnic groups, too, yet few have pointed this out. It is too hard to see what is really
happening because the issue is obscured by technical mythology. It is easy to see---
regardless of how true---that a banker can make a loan on one house as easily as on
another. However, it is not easy to see that a programmer can make interactive
products easy enough for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds to use.

“Acceptable levels of quality for software engineers are far lower than are those for traditional
engineering disciplines”
“Software-based products not INHERENTLY hard to use
Wrong process is used to develop
them” [1]

Software Engineering and HCI

There is a basic fundamental difference between the approaches taken by software
engineers and human-computer interaction specialists. Human-computer interface
specialists are user-centered and software engineers are system-centered.
Software engineering methodologies are good at modeling certain aspects of the
problem domain. Formal methods have been developed to represent data,
architectural, and procedural aspects of a software system. Software engineering
approaches deal with managerial and financial issues well. Software engineering
methodologies are useful for specifying and building the functional aspects of a
software system.
Human-computer interfaces emphasize developing a deep understanding of user
characteristics and a clear awareness of the tasks a user must perform. HCI specialists
test design ideas on real users and use formal evaluation techniques to replace
intuition in guiding design. This constant reality check improves the final product.

. [1] The Inmates are running the asylum by Alan Cooper.

. [2] Human Computer Interaction by Jenny Preece.

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