CSE 271 Homepage
User Interface Design: Social and Technical
If you are a visitor to this site, the best way to get an overview of
the course, after reading the synopsis, is to browse the readings page and follow links that interest you.
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 well beyond the text, and are more
important than the text, which actually could be used in a lower division
course, although its content is very important for practical applications.
There will be handouts, diagrams on the board, stories, examples, and
(probably) guest appearances at lectures. In short, all of assigned
readings, lectures, notes, and text are absolutely necessary.
A wiki is available for this class (and also CSE 171) to use, at
http://cse-gsa.ucsd.edu/wiki/UserInterfaceDesign; it includes material
from Spring 2003 that is now out of date, but please feel free to improve it.
You are allowed to talk with other students about how to approach homework
problems, but you are not allowed to work together on solutions. Please read
the Integrity of Scholarship
Agreement site and the offical UCSD policies on
Plagariasm; see also the most
recent amended policy (sorry, it's in MS Word). You are expected to
abide by these rules; failure to do so can have serious consequences.
An evolving draft introduction of Value-Driven Design, with Algebraic Semiotics,
by Joseph Goguen and Fox Harrel, to eventually be a text for this course,
is online for browsing and comment; a rough
draft outline of the whole book is also online for browsing and
comment. See also the excellent summary of the work of Batya Friedman and
others in the short encyclopedia article Value Sensitive Design, the Value Sensitive Design
Lab at the University of Washington, and my recent letter to her.
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 social issues, semiotics. and new media interfaces.
See the course topics list for more detail.
We may distinguish the following levels of interface design issues:
This course will focus on the last two levels, especially the last, and in
this regard will consider (at least) the following:
- individual psychology; and
- social, cultural, and organizational issues.
We will examine several case studies, one of which is a system built at UCSD
CSE to support distributed cooperative software engineering over the web,
which 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; and direct manipulation
vs. command line interfaces. Algebraic semiotics will be developed as a
fundamental tool for addressing such issues. We will also look at some other
websites designed by UCSD students for this course.
- semiotics - the study of signs and meaning, including metaphor;
- ethnomethodology - the sociology of ordinariness;
- narratology - the study of stories;
- discourse analysis - the study of discourse;
- actor-network theory - a network approach to the sociology of technology
and science; and
- cognitive linguistics.
- Tuesday, Thursday, 17:00 am to 18:20, in Center 203
- Section ID 527968, Section A00
- There is no TA for this class, and hence no discussion section
- My office hours begin 17:00 on Wednesdays.
The only required book is McCracken and Wolfe; other required readings will
made available on the web or handed out in class.This is available at the UCSD bookstore; it seems to be the best current
text for this course, but it has some limitations, so we will supplement it in
many ways. The book's
website has some useful material, especially for the XML appendix.
All these should be on reserve at the Science and Engineering Library.
The first is a prominent text for undergraduate courses in this area. The
second is a colorful overview of the important and rapidly developing new
field of cognitive linguistics. The third takes a "classical" approach to
interface design grounded in experimental psychology, which the fourth tries
to update. The remainder address more specialized domains.
- Designing the User Interface, by Ben Shneiderman and Catherine
Plaisant, Addison Wesley, 2004 (fourth edition). ISBN 0-321-19786-0.
- The Way We Think, by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner, Basic
Books, 2002. ISBN 0-465-8785-X.
- Metaphor and Iconicity: A cognitive approach to analyzing texts,
by Masako Hiraga, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. ISBN 1-4039-3345-6.
- Human-Computer Interaction, by Jennifer Preece, Prentice-Hall,
1998. ISBN 0-13-239864-8.
- Interaction Design, by Jennifer Preece, Yovonne Rogers, and Helen
Sharp, Wiley, 2002. ISBN 0-471-49278-7.
- Information Visualization, by Robert Spence, Addison Wesley,
2001. ISBN 0-201-59626-1.
- Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud, Harper Collins, 1993.
- Introduction to Barthes, Mireille Ribiere (Hodder & Stoughton,
2002). ISBN 0-340-84499-X.
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 your project.
- 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.
- GUI Bloopers, by Jeff Johnson, Morgan Kaufmann, 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.
Your grade will depend primarily on the quality of your project, tempered by an assessment of your
homework and your class participation. Your project should reflect your
familiarity with the readings, lectures and class notes, especially the
material that is unique to this class; see the projects
information page. Homework assignments should be handed in, but will not
be formally graded; see me after class if you want feedback. I will try to
arrange a session for voluntary presentations of projects if there is
- Reading assignments.
- Class notes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, A.
- Homework assignments.
- Information on projects.
- The CSE 171 homepage has links to quizzes and
exams from various versions of that class. Also, here is a link to the 2003 version of CSE 271.
- A tutorial by Dana Dahlstrom and Vinu Somayaji is
also available (warning: it may not always agree with this version of the
- The ACM
TechNews newsletter usually contains two or three articles that relate
closely to user interface design issues; the above link is for the current
issue, but back issues are also available on the site.
- 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
- Essays of Don Norman.
- The UCSD Semiotic Zoo.
- Homepage of Jennifer
Preece; see in particular, the subsite on her new book, Online Communities.
- 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.
- Website on
blending, with applications to metaphor; work of Gilles
Fauconnier, Mark Turner and others, in the area of cognitive linguistics.
Warning: This is neither a technical course in HTML,
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 a little programming, and some mathematics will be
needed. Insofar as possible, the course will be conducted as a seminar; in
any case, topics will be discussed 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. This course
is oriented towards concepts, not programming, and many homework
questions will have an essay character. There is an emphasis on social and
semiotic aspects of design.
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Last modified: Wed Mar 29 07:33:19 PST 2006