CSE 171 Homepage
User Interface Design: Social and Technical
New technologies provide the means to build superb new systems, as well as
phenomenally ugly and awkward systems that still fully meet their performance
and functional requirements. This course will explore several approaches
towards a scientific understanding of basic issues of usability,
representation and coordination that arise in interface design and related
areas, such as how to best organize complex information in multimedia. There
will be some focus on distributed cooperative work and on semiotics. See the
course outline for more detail.
We distinguish the following levels for interface design issues:
The course will focus on the last two levels, especially the last, and in this
regard will consider the following:
- individual psychology; and
- sociology, group psychology, and organizational issues.
We will examine a number of case studies, one of which is a system being built
at UCSD CSE to support distributed cooperative software engineering over the
web. A prototype of this system can be seen at /groups/tatami/kumo/exs/. Some issues here
include: how to present proofs as webpages; how to make proofs easier to
follow, e.g., by linking formal material to background material; how to
motivate difficult proof steps; proof editors vs. proof browsers; direct
manipulation vs. command line interfaces.
- semiotics - the study of signs and meaning, including metaphor;
- ethnomethodology - the sociology of ordinariness;
- narratology - the study of stories; and
- discourse analysis - the study of discourse.
Notes: Be sure to check pages on this website frequently; important
notices will be posted near the top of this homepage; homework and readings
will be posted on their respective webpages, not given in class. You should
reload all webpages frequently, because I may be editing the same page that
you are reading! All webpages are subject to frequent and/or unannounced
The class notes do not cover everything you need to know for this course,
and their emphasis may not reflect the importance of material. The notes
WILL NOT serve as a substitute for the lectures or the assigned
readings! Moreover, the lectures and readings go beyond the text, and are
at least as important as the text. In addition, there will be
handouts, diagrams on the board, and possibly guest appearances at lectures.
In short, all of lectures, notes, text, and other readings are absolutely
- Tuesday, Thursday, 5:30 to 6:50 pm, Room WLH 2204
- Section ID 402412, Section A00
- There is no TA for this class, and hence no discussion section
- My office hours: Wednesdays, 4:15 to 5:00 pm
The only required book is Shneiderman; other required readings will made
available on the web or handed out in class.This should be available through the UCSD bookstore; it seems to be the
best text available in this field, but we will supplement it in many ways.
Both of these should be on reserve at the Science and Engineering
Library. The first is a colorful overview of an important and rapidly
developing new field. The second takes a more "classical" approach grounded
in cognitive psychology.
- Information Visualization, by Robert Spence, Addison Wesley,
2001. ISBN 0-201-59626-1.
- Human-Computer Interaction, by Jenny Preece, Prentice-Hall, 1998.
Other Relevant Books
The first book above is an amusing overview of some issues in design,
while the second is a fascinating case history of a large design project that
failed. The third book is temporarily out of print; it contains essays on
various social aspects of computing. The book by Linde goes into stories in
great depth, while the book by Turner discusses metaphor and blending in some
depth. The book by Nadin treats the relevance of semiotics to design, among
other things. The UCSD bookstore should have a few copies of the last book,
for those who want to go deeper into the algebraic aspect of algebraic
semiotics. We will use these books very little, but some of you may want them
for further enrichment.
- The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald A. Norman, Doubleday,
- Aramis, or the
Love of Technology, by Bruno Latour, Harvard University Press, 1996.
- Requirements Engineering: Social and Technical Issues, ed. by
Marina Jirotka and Joseph Goguen, Academic Press, 1994.
- The Humane Interface, by Jef Raskin, Addison Wesley, 2000.
- Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence, by Charlotte Linde,
- The Literary
Mind, by Mark Turner,
Civilization of Illiteracy, by Mihai Nadin, Dresden Univ Press, 1998.
Algebraic Semantics of Imperative Programs, by Joseph Goguen and
Grant Malcolm, MIT Press, 1996.
Since there is no TA for this course, grades will be based on exams. There
will be quizzes in class at random times. There will also be homework
assignments, but they will not be graded; see me during office hours if you
want feedback. The items in "Miscellaneous" were assembled by the teacher for
your interest and/or amusement.
Here are links to the first quiz, the second quiz, the third quiz, and the final exam. Grades will be based on 30% for quizes and
70% for the final exam (though I would like to reserve the right to change
that if it will result in better scores for everybody).
- Reading assignments.
- Class notes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, A.
- Homework assignments.
- Homepage of the book Designing the
User Interface, by Ben
Shneiderman, Addison Wesley, 1998 (thrid edition).
- Homepage of
Interactions magazine, published by the ACM.
- The Yale Style
Manuual, perhaps the best general style manual available on the web.
- The Interface Hall of
Fame and Interface Hall of
- Homepage of Ben
- The UCSD Semiotic Zoo.
- Homepage of Jennifer
Preece; see in particular, the subsite on her new book, Online Communities.
- Towards a
Theory of Ethical Linking, by Jeff White, a rather extreme example of
the hypertext medium; lots of links, not much content; i.e., "hyperchaos".
- Homepage of Phil Agre at
UCLA; many interesting publications on "information studies", plus a good
bibliography, and many interesting links.
- Homepage of Geoff Bowker,
interesting material on sociology of science, including biodiversity
informatics, information infrastructure, classification systems, medical
records, and more.
- Homepage of Leigh
Star, interesting material on sociology of science, including boundary
objects, classification systems, information systems, and more.
Warning: This is not an easy course; it requires understanding
complex and subtle concepts, and applying them to real examples. It is also
touchy-feely course in web aesthetics; rather it explores various principled
approaches to user interface design. You are expected to already know (or be
able to quickly pick up) HTML, and to be able to read intermediate level
cognitive science, sociology, and philosophy. There will be some programming,
and some mathematics will be needed. This course will be conducted in
somewhat the style of a seminar; in particular, we will generally discuss the
topics related to the readings under the assumption that you have already
understood the readings. It may be easy to deceive yourself into thinking
that you have understood when you haven't, so please take care.
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Maintained by Joseph Goguen
© 2000, 2001 Joseph Goguen, all rights reserved.
Last modified: Fri Jun 15 12:44:30 PDT 2001