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Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design Paperback – January 11, 1987

ISBN-13: 078-5342112979 ISBN-10: 0201112973

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional (January 11, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201112973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201112979
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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A really enjoyable book, a challenging book, and a must read!
Daniel Toohey
I guess that the best way to read it is with someone else, having discussions as you go along.
Chauncey Bell
I read this book when it was first published in the mid 1980's.
Art M.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Chauncey Bell on July 24, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A few years ago Byte Magazine named this one of the 10 most important books in the history of the computer industry. Flores was asked to keynote the 50th anniversary meeting of the ACM on the strength of the work he has done, some of which is shown here.
I am a little surprised not to find a review here that shows awareness of what this book is and was intended to do -- to turn those concerned with the design of the role of computers in society into a new direction. The book offers a fundamental enrichment and extension to the traditional engineering-based foundations that are used for designing computer systems that is drawn from philosophy and biology. It opens the development of a rigorous new design milleau to the reader. This is NOT yet another multi-disciplinary rumination.
I would say this is not a "helpful" book, and it was never intended as an easy read. It is a book to turn to when one has learned enough about what is really at issue in putting computers to work in human life to discover that the likes of input, process, output, "friendly" interfaces, attractive graphical presentations, and logical flow charts are vastly insufficient distinctions for doing work that really makes a contribution to your clients and colleagues. The book challenges the reader strongly, and is not simple to read. I guess that the best way to read it is with someone else, having discussions as you go along.
This is a book to engage and grow with -- a must-read for those serious about designing and building systems that will affect the lives of those who engage with them.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 1997
Format: Paperback
A remarkable work that delves into the field of human cognition and emerges with a fresh, intelligent perspective of how computers can and cannot support human cognitive efforts. Anyone interested in artificial intelligence and/or workflow will find this book an informative read
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Art M. on August 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book when it was first published in the mid 1980's. At the time I was studying artificial intelligence as part of a graduate program in computer science. I have not looked at this book in a long time ("my bad") but I remember it was ground-breaking in at least several ways - at least for me personally!

1. It opened my eyes to the limitations of the then-current approaches being attempted to recreate (via computer) human intelligence and/or human speech understanding and production. The approaches dominant at the time were logic-based algorithms based on frames, and neural-inspired algorithms.

2. It opened my eyes to the notion that recreating human intelligence or human language via computer was NOT nearly as important as many of us thought it was. Rather, more important was (and is) to understand human-computer interaction and provide machines that complement and extend our skills and strengths (which I now view as an extension of the thinking of Douglas Englebart). And....

3. Communication and meaning are necessarily embedded in our physical being and our physical situation.

As I recall, the authors drew from a variety of thinkers and disciplines. Frankly, I have a hard time remembering right now to what extents my insights were due to Winograd/Flores work versus how they may have simply altered my direction of exploration (e.g. to study George Lakoff's work on the remarkable role of metaphor in language).

This is the first time I've ever written a book review on Amazon that is essentially a description of the book's impact on my life and thinking rather than the book itself. I don't remember the details of the book! But I clearly remember that it changed my life.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 14, 1997
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent text which describes an approach to using computers to perform an enabling role within corporate enterprises by using their ability to allow clearer understanding between participants in the workplace. The other aspect of this book looks at current methods of creating AI systems and their fundamental weaknesses. Having read this as part of my MSc. in Information Technology I have re-read it several times and I would recommend it to all those involved in complex system design, implementation and support. In addition a book such as Checklands Soft Systems Methodolgy will give a good introduction to how the systems described in Understanding Computers and Cognition can be designed to meet the demands of "real world" environments.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Arun Kumar Tripathi on April 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
Winograd and Flores' `Understanding Computers and Cognition' proposes that the rationalist tradition in AI must be replaced by a hermeneutic approach. Associating the rationalist tradition with the goal of building a human mind, the authors propose that a hermeneutic approach must adopt the goal of constructing prostheses which magnify the human mind. This paper argues that what AI needs is not so much a hermeneutic approach as a better appreciation of biology and psychology. Understanding Computers and Cognition is a groundbreaking book that presents an important new approach to understanding what computers do and how their functioning is related to human language, thought and action. Byte Magazine has recognized Understanding Computers and Cognition as one of the all-time 20 most influential books on information technology.
Thank you!
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