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The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships Hardcover – September 2, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Nass, a Stanford researcher, has the fascinating and enviable job of performing research into human interactions with technology. Question: Why did BMW receive so many complaints about its navigation system from male German drivers? Answer: German men refused to take directions from a woman (the system had a female voice). To find out if misery truly loves company, Nass paired happy and sad drivers with happy and sad virtual passengers, finding that miserable drivers preferred to be paired with miserable passengers (albeit virtual), and visa versa. The results are often intriguing, but when it comes to discussing their implications, Nass falters. His experimental anecdotes end with a "Results and Implications" appendix, and his findings often sound as banal as the platitudes he's attempting to test. The author is at his most compelling when describing technology's human failures in the marketplace, such as the demise of the despised Microsoft "Clippy," whose apparent stupidity and lack of empathy doomed him as an application (killing marketing plans to turn him into a beloved Mickey Mouse-like character). Moments like these make Nass's examination an engaging compendium of technological faux pas. (Sept.) (c)
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"If Dale Carnegie had been a Google engineer, this is how he would have written "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Cliff Nass shows us how much we can learn about people by understanding how people interact with computers."
-Chip Heath, coauthor of "Switch" and "Made to Stick"
"With the help of real experiments, rather than anecdotes or impressions, Clifford Nass uses people's interactions with computers as a window into social and professional life. The book is filled with insights about an increasingly important part of our lives."
-Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of "How the Mind Works" and "The Stuff of Thought"
"With engaging illustrations and compelling evidence, Clifford Nass shows how interactions with our most advanced machines reveal our most primitive workings."
-Robert B. Cialdini, author of "Influence: Science and Practice"
"Nass and Yen serve up a wealth of practical, h --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
The book is meant to be objective and scientific, but it makes ridiculous blanket-statement conclusions from some studies that absolutely do not warrant generalization. One of those blanket statements being: "...all emotions boil down to happy versus sad (valence) and excited versus calm (arousal)." The author might benefit from looking into the Facial Action Coding System and research into the face and emotion because this conclusion is laughable.
The overall tone of the book is off putting: the author is, supposedly, scientific and rigorous, yet he's brash and arrogant and comes to sweeping conclusions.
Another small annoyance is that he feels the need to point out where everyone one of his students ended up, which, is distracting and breaks the pace of the narrative.
That being said, I did walk away with a few insights and the first couple of chapters were intellectually stimulating. If you want to enjoy this book, I'd advise you skip the chapter on emotion.
Although it seems to me like some of experiments could have design flaws or overly simplistic conclusions, the research is relevant and interesting, dealing with a broad array of topics such as how people respond to mindless flattery versus informed compliments, the impact of valence emotions, modesty versus praise, the importance of imitation, interdependence and identification in teams, cognitive reframing, and the rule of reciprocity.
I liked how the book was organized with first the description of the question, then the experiment design, then the results and implications, and then each chapter ending with a summary of key points. Because Nass often works as an consultant to businesses or software design companies, the research and implications were often related to business situations, resulting in advice from perspectives such as the most effective way to deliver negative criticism to coworkers, or how to be viewed as an expert. This book was not technical, assumes no prior knowledge, and appeals to a broad audience. It is more about human-human interaction as revealed through human-computer interaction experiments than it is about computers or technology, except for the underlying assumption that humans at least somewhat treat computers as people.
In a time when the CEO of Microsoft (retired) and owner of the LA Clippers has outlawed Powerpoint presentations, how should we communicate with each other?
Nass claims incredibly, that "The social world is much less complicated than it appears. In fact, interactions between people are governed by simple rules and patterns," and that he shows these simple rules via experiment.
In general, Nass fulfills the above incredible claim, and does it entertainingly. If you manage or deal with creative people this is an excellent, short book (four hours est.) from which to learn.