Activity-Centered Design: An Ecological Approach to Designing Smart Tools and Usable Systems

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Overview

The shift in the practice of human-computer interaction (HCI) Design from user-centered to context-based design marks a significant change in focus. With context-based design, designers start not with a preconceived idea of what users should do, but with an understanding of what users actually do. Context-based design focuses on the situation in which the technology will be used -- the activities relating to it and their social contexts. Designers must also realize that introduction of the technology itself changes the situation; in order to design workable systems, the design process must become flexible and adaptive. In Activity-Centered Design,
Geri Gay and Helene Hembrooke argue that it is time to develop new models for HCI design that support not only research and development but also investigations into the context and motivation of user behavior.Gay and Hembrooke examine the ongoing interaction of computer systems use, design practice, and design evaluation, using the concepts of activity theory and related methods as a theoretical framework. Among the topics they discuss are the reciprocal relationship between the tool and the task, how activities shape the requirements of particular tools and how the application of the tools begins to reshape the activity; differing needs and expectations of participants when new technology is introduced, examining in particular the integration of wireless handheld devices into museums and learning environments; and the effect of the layout of the computing space on movement, function, and social interaction. Gay and Hembrooke then apply their findings on the use of technology in everyday contexts to inform future HCI design practice.

The MIT Press

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

"Bridging activity theory and design is a major challenge for researchers and practitioners of computer-supported collaborative work and learning. Geri Gay and Helene Hembrooke make an important contribution toward building such a bridge."--Yrjö Engeström, University of
California, San Diego and University of Helsinki, FinlandPlease note: There should be umlauts over both o's in the endorser's name.

The MIT Press

"In Activity-Centered Design, Gay and Hembrooke offer us fascinating glimpses into some of the possible futures for emerging technologies and infrastructures. Their discussions of recent proto-ubiquitous computing experiments with mobile and wireless devices are as timely as they are provocative. But perhaps the book's most important contribution is to make the case, definitively, for embedding technology design within broader cultural and social contexts." Genevieve Bell, Senior Researcher, Intel Corporation

The MIT Press

"In *Activity-Centered Design*, Gay and Hembrooke offer us fascinating glimpses into some of the possible futures for emerging technologies and infrastructures. Their discussions of recent proto-ubiquitous computing experiments with mobile and wireless devices are as timely as they are provocative. But perhaps the book's most important contribution is to make the case,
definitively, for embedding technology design within broader cultural and social contexts."--Genevieve Bell, Senior Researcher, Intel Corporation

The MIT Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262072489
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Series: Acting with Technology
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Helene Hembrooke is Associate Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Group at Cornell
University.
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Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Preface: Mediating Interactions
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Making the Case for Context-Based Design
1 Activity Theory and Context-Based Design 1
2 Understanding Perspectives: Social Construction of Technology 15
3 Creating a Sense of Place: Designing for Online Learning Conversations 31
4 Blurring Boundaries: A study of Ubiquitous Computing 53
5 Designing for Context-Aware Computing 73
6 Configural Analysis of Spaces and Places 89
References 101
Index 109
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