- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (December 15, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1449323170
- ISBN-13: 978-1449323172
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #254,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Understanding Context: Environment, Language, and Information Architecture 1st Edition
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Hinton's writing is accessible, but not dull; occasionally abstract, but not impenetrable (thanks to the clever models and images throughout!). I would especially suggest that college students and graduate students studying design, writing/communication, and engineering pick up Understanding Context. As a recovering academic who researched design and was trying to make my way into actually practicing design, I was really thankful to read something that seemed to model how I could use my analytical research skills in the context of IA and design practice.
I like the balance of conceptual underpinnings and present-day specific design examples, all presented in Hinton’s engaging style and turns-of-phrase.
This is a book I wish I'd had back in school for the way of thinking about affordances and meaning through acting. I consider it a vital reference for going about design projects now, as a UX/IA practitioner trying to facilitate meaning in our world of pervasive devices, IoT, networks, digital agents, spatial/gestural UIs, and whatever else the future holds...
The book contains practical use cases which all help illustrate the ideas. I find myself incorporating the ideas presented some months after completing reading it. Using sources from a wide variety of disciplines is fascinating since it all leads to how we extract meaning from our daily interactions with information. I especially liked how city structures and planning, storytelling, and data management are all mentioned. Those seemingly unrelated topics are all a part of how we understand our world and how we make our way through it.
After reading Understanding Context, I feel I have a better grip on how the use of data is complex. There is a glut of information in our world but it is not longer scary to figure out the context for the information.
With that quote as our shared context I will say that this book is a door to knowledge that will allow an entire generation of digital designers to more properly consider the context in which their work is used.
This book is easy to read, but also full of important academic concepts more designers should be talking and thinking about in this messy cross-channel world. Hinton’s writing is like attending a master's program in Gibsonian psychology while having the smartest kid in class sitting next to you explaining what the heck is going on in everyday language. I applaud O’Reilly in bringing this work to the world and Mr Hinton for pouring his heart into writing it.
This is a meaty book that rewards mulling over. Hinton pulls material from a wide variety of sources: books, websites, social media exchanges, blogs, listserves, cinema, virtual worlds, talks, personal correspondence, the natural world, and the built environment. He then does the hard work of sorting through this remarkably broad body of literature and experience and threads the resulting insight into a lucid, engaging narrative.
Understanding Context is not a “methods” book. Hinton offers lots of examples – and more than a few practical tools – but his overall focus remains on helping readers understand why certain techniques, approaches and tools are effective (or not). Where many design texts offer quick glosses of foundational concepts (such as affordance or invariance), Hinton takes the time to take these concepts apart and show us how they work (and how they work together).
As a designer and researcher – and someone who’s simply curious about his world – I enjoyed this book a lot. It gave me a ton to think about in the reading of it, and has given me a ton to think about since.