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The Design of Future Things Paperback – May 12, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Donald A. Norman is the Breed Professor of Design at Northwestern University, a former Vice President at Apple Computer, 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 Design of Everyday Things. He lives in Palo Alto, California, and Evanston, Illinois.

www.jnd.org

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465002285
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465002283
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #251,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mixed with some really good ideas is mostly just pontification and droll explanation of things that already are.

Many of the conclusions in this book can be reached much sooner on the reader's own without the lengthy writer's passages that seem to only extend the book's length rather than open the reader's mind. Yes, machines now only signal us, not communicate with us, when the wash's cycle has ended or the microwave's 2 minutes are up, but then, what else do we need? I don't want my vacuum reminding me it's vacuuming or when it's finished. That's why it's automatic.
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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a required reading for one of my college courses. I am not an avid reader, but found this book to be incredibly interesting! I've only read a handful of books over the past several years, and this is one I definitely would have read even if it weren't necessary for my class.
Some really intriguing selections, a quick read, and hard to close once you begin reading; would recommend to anyone!
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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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