- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Sams - Pearson Education; 1 edition (March 5, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0672326140
- ISBN-13: 978-0672326141
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 196 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime.
If you're a seller, Fulfillment by Amazon can help you increase your sales. We invite you to learn more about Fulfillment by Amazon .
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
The recurring metaphor in The Inmates are Running the Asylum is that of the dancing bear--the circus bear that shuffles clumsily for the amusement of the audience. Such bears, says author Alan Cooper, don't dance well, as everyone at the circus can see. What amazes the crowd is that the bear dances at all. Cooper argues that technology (videocassette recorders, car alarms, most software applications for personal computers) consists largely of dancing bears--pieces that work, but not at all well. He goes on to say that this is more often than not the fault of poorly designed user interfaces, and he makes a good argument that way too many devices (perhaps as a result of the designers' subconscious wish to bully the people who tormented them as children) ask too much of their users. Too many systems (like the famous unprogrammable VCR) make their users feel stupid when they can't get the job done.
Cooper, who designed Visual Basic (the programming environment Microsoft promotes for the purpose of creating good user interfaces), indulges in too much name-dropping and self-congratulation (Cooper attributes the quote, "How did you do that?" to Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, upon looking at one of Cooper's creations)--but this appears to be de rigueur in books about the software industry. But those asides are minor. More valuable is the discourse about software design and implementation ("[O]bject orientation divides the 1000-brick tower into 10 100-brick towers."). Read this book for an idea of what's wrong with UI design. --David Wall
Topics covered: User interfaces--good ones and bad ones--and where they come from. Also, how to improve the ones you create.
From the Back Cover
Imagine, at a terrifyingly aggressive rate, everything you regularly use is being equipped with computer technology. Think about your phone, cameras, cars-everything-being automated and programmed by people who in their rush to accept the many benefits of the silicon chip, have abdicated their responsibility to make these products easy to use. "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum" argues that the business executives who make the decisions to develop these products are not the ones in control of the technology used to create them. Insightful and entertaining, "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum" uses the author's experiences in corporate America to illustrate how talented people continuously design bad software-based products and why we need technology to work the way average people think. Somewhere out there is a happy medium that makes these types of products both user and bottom-line friendly; this book discusses why we need to quickly find that medium.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Somewhere along the line, Cooper switches gears from talking about the problems of software to talking about the problems of people. This is a logical step, but Cooper proceeds to advocate a strict hierarchy where programmers are isolated from the big picture because they, frankly, think like computers and are therefore potentially hazardous to users.
This would make sense if we lived in a world where you can assume all black people are lazy because you saw one sleeping in a hammock. Cooper's generalizations stretch to the point where he claims a developer cannot be a good designer because of the way they think. Speaking as both a designer and developer, Cooper is simply wrong about this.
What makes Cooper's book forgettable is that he is not advocating for better technology through educating the public. Rather, he is advocating better technology by pushing social roles onto people with preconceived overgeneralizations of how people think. Cooper would say to you "You are the kind of person that should... [BLANK]"
The title of my review sums up the categories of people Cooper makes up. Interaction designers and business people are good because they care about the end users, who are clueless to what the bad ol' developers are trying to do to them. While Cooper's dream for better products is noble and just, he feels that the ends justify the means.
The problems in Cooper's book are not products of developers running the world (as he insinuates), it's about communication. Managing developers and communicating user needs to different departments is a difficult, context-centric task with no set formula.
But Cooper offers a formula for how people should behave, and that is why I can't take him seriously.
To be honest, I couldn't read it in it's entirety and merely skimmed it. This is without a doubt the worst book I have ever seen on this subject. I read this with a stunned disbelief at what I was reading along with a growing sense of disdain for the author.
Okay, firstly the author has the most intense bias against engineers. In retrospect I realise it should have been obvious from the title (duh!).
Take these examples from the Chapter 3 - Feature List Bargaining:
"These feature lists allowed programmers to 'shift the blame' to management when the product failed to live up to expectations." [implies (a) blame belongs solely with the developers and (b) features lists are an evil plot of the developers. Apparently developers should read minds instead]
"There are far too many features to create in the time allotted, 'they claim', and many of them will have to be cut to meet the deadline." [implies developers are deceitful]
"The programmers 'draw a dividing line midway' through the list. Items above it will be implemented, they declare, while those below the "line of death" are postponed or eliminated." [implies unreasoned and arbitrary decision making by the developers]
"All of the analysis and careful thinking done by high-powered and high-priced executives' is made moot by the unilateral cherry picking of a programmer following his own muse or defending his turf." [Contrasts the 'careful thinking' of the managers with the 'unilateral cherry picking' of the developer. Sneakily implies 'high priced' = 'worth it']
Whilst reading this rubbish, I was trying to imagine what reality the author lived in. A google search told me that he was some sort of 'father of VB'. Oh. Well. That explains rather a lot. I suspect that the sort of developer that the author is railing against in this book is the sort of developer that the author was previously. My 15 years of experience in the software industry (C++,Delphi,Java) has been vastly different. I would not have hired a developer like the author was then, and I would certainly not engage his services as a consultant now.
The author seems to be completely mired in the past and completely out of touch with the last decade of the evolution of the industry. One good book on Agile or Lean development will impart the reader with the context to look at the perspective the author displays in this book as dangerously antiquated.
This book reads like some sort of 'class-warfare' political *screed* from the managerial class to the engineering (working) class.
Let me share my experience. The IT industry is full of scams and cons, primarily run by large consultancy firms. Software development is hard, and the majority of those responsible for the success of failure of IT projects do not have enough understanding of the projects to feel comfortable in taking responsibility for their success or failure. They will obviously accept the accolades of success, but in an all too human manner - look for scapegoats for failure. By turning to outside consultants pushing the latest new technology, they can always blame the consulting firm if things go wrong. The consulting firms are completely on board with this as (a) they are paid well and (b) they know that when the next new technology is ready the cycle will repeat. This is not a secret. I have sat in board meetings with these consultants who have used exactly this as a sales pitch to us.
Now I don't know if the author is a 'true believer' in the idea's presented in the book or whether it is a cynical attempt to reinforce the existing prejudices of certain entrenched executives in order to secure for him more consulting work. In any case, this is the worst book I have ever read, bad enough to write my first negative review on Amazon.
I'd normally recommend reading books like this to get an idea on what to avoid, but in this case I can't even recommend that, it's actually too repulsive. Avoid like the plague.