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The Design of Future Things: Author of The Design of Everyday Things Hardcover – October 30, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465002277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465002276
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #420,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Donald A. Norman is Professor of Computer Science at Northwestern University, a former “Apple Fellow,” and a partner in the Nielsen Norman Group Consulting Firm, which consults with corporations on design. He is the author of a number of books on design, including Emotional Design and the best-selling The Design of Everyday Things. He lives in Northbrook, Illinois and Palo Alto, California.

More About the Author

Don Norman is a voyeur, always watching, always on the lookout for some common-day occurrence that everyone else takes for granted but that when examined, yields insight into the human condition. (If you are rushing to catch a train, how do you know if you got to the station on time? Empty platform? You probably are too late. People milling about, looking at their watches,peering down the tracks? Probably OK. Who needs technology when people are so informative, even if as an accidental byproduct of their activities.

Business Week has named him one of "the world's most influential designers," the influence from his books, essasys, courses and students, lectures, and consulting.

He takes special delight in the interaction of people and technology. "Develop the skill of observation," he councils: especially pay attention to the obvious. "Question the obvious and you will dis cover many hidden insights. What seems to be obvious often is not."

He is a fellow of many organizations and former lots of things, including VP at Apple Computer and even President of a startup. He has honorary degrees from the University of Padua (Italy) and the Technical University Delft (the Netherlands). He was awarded the Benjamin Franklin medal in Computer and Cognitive Science and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He is known for his books "The Design of Everyday Things," "Emotional Design," and "The Design of Future Things," but he is most proud of his students, now all over the world, who put into practice his human-centered design philosophy. his latest book is "Living with Complexity," which argues that complexity is necessary: Our tools must match our tasks. When people cry out for simplicity, they are wrong -- people want understanding. That is not the same as simplicity -- simple thing are often the most confusing.

He is currently revising "Design of Everyday Things" to keep the message the same but update the examples. Expected publication date is August 2013.

He lives at www.jnd.org, where you can find chapters from his books and loads of essays.

Customer Reviews

At the end of Future Things I felt he had spent much of the time repeating himself, that the book could have been half the length.
Rob S.
Much of the book reiterates and repeats the same points over and over again about communication between machines and man but I found that it was very limited in scope.
Brian C. Clark
I have always been a big fan of good design, but have never really had an opportunity to read much about it from those who make design their living.
Dr. Bojan Tunguz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Rob S. VINE VOICE on January 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An interesting read. Ranks in this order:

(1) Design of Everyday Things
(2) Emotional Design
(distant 3rd) Design of Future Things

It wasn't "bad" it simply wasn't as interesting as the others. Whereas at the end of (1) and (2) I felt enlightened - that Norman was breaking new ground. At the end of Future Things I felt he had spent much of the time repeating himself, that the book could have been half the length.

Good book, but I would skip.
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89 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Otwell on November 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Though the title's similar, this is no Design of Everyday Things. This book's very strongly focussed on design ideas for automobile automation, smart cruise control and the like, which gets a little tedious. Surprisingly, Norman also barely explores transportation possibilities beyond the car, and there's no discussion at all of sustainability, how cities and transportation habits are changing, or really any context at all. I guess Norman sees a one-man, one-exhaust pipe future for us.

In other ways, the book feels very much like the product of the last generation of attitudes about technology: there's basically no discussion of the web, or really anything about products that might have both online and physical manifestations. There's certainly some interesting stuff about how people adapt to increasing automation and lack of control in their cars or homes, but no essential insights nor much about the implications of generalized ambient computing and automation, something Adam Greenfield deals with very thoughtfully in Everyware.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Craig Ogg on December 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Norman's book Design of Everyday Things had a profound effect both on the way I perceive the world and how I design. I have bought every consumer book he has written since then, and have always come away disappointed.

I am giving this book only 3 stars because I felt it became repetitive after a while, having covered the points adequately in the first half of the book. Not up to the quality I expect of Norman.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rob Wilcox on October 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
The Design of Future things could have been a much better book, but it has its value.

Norman has a distinguished career as engineer, cognitive scientist and champion for good design before it was fashionable. The book's weakness is its trade book focus on the general reader. It needs to be more engaging and expand beyond a focus on automobile and home automation R&D laboratories.

Its value are proposed principles for human-intelligent machine interaction: provide rich natural and continuous signals; be predictable; provide a good conceptual model; understandable output; and exploit natural mappings. Given the immaturity of the field, these are a very rough starting point. They will be replaced or evolved as broad real experience with intelligent machines evolves.

More important are the recommended readings: suggestions on important technical books and researchers on intelligent machine topics.

Norman's trade book philosophy omits conventional footnotes, though a page linked notes section allows limited references for the reader to go deeper.

A book copyright 2007 would have been written in 2006-6, but missing completely are developments in mobile, gaming, simulation, search, language translation, health care; and the potential of network-backed intelligence in the cloud. Discussion of intelligent social network interaction systems, or social network driven intelligence are absent. Norman also omits the impact of generational adoption and the signaling theory value of technology adoption by individuals.

The book could have omitted science fiction-style dialogs between fictional humans and Norman's fictional future machines. A better approach would have been to critique the interactions in popular film, with online film clip references.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brian C. Clark on April 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Much of the book reiterates and repeats the same points over and
over again about communication between machines and man but I found
that it was very limited in scope. From what I have read in technology
advances I am forced to conclude that this author has not done adequate
research to write what the title suggest which is a much wider scope than what is written within its chapters. A more correct title would be
"The communication between man and machine" or "Communication between
future home appliances, cars and furniture with man". It patronizes
computers as hardly being suitable candidates for future sentience.

Given that we have had millions of years to evolve I hardly think
that this could be concluded from only about 60 years of computer
technology...certainly in light of the fact that all of NASA's expensive computers in the 1960's Apollo era filling out an entire room does not approach the computing power of even a single laptop computer today.

In general buying a book about future technology is not as informative as
reading about articles on a daily or weekly basis because the shear
breadth of the subject does not do well in book form where it quickly
becomes outdated. If you are reading about history, language an
autobiography and so on you are more likely to be adequately informed
because it is not an evolving topic and only a few new things get discovered over the years to amend to what you already know. On the
other hand if you are reading about PAST technology such as the works
of Tesla and his D.C. motors then you are on a topic which fits into
history which is adequately constrained in its breadth and is not
evolving unless you believe Tesla is somehow alive like Elvis and is still inventing new machines that no one can can guess at.
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