CSE 271 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
- 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.
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.
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 additional readings are absolutely necessary.
- Wednesdays, 1:25 to 4:15 pm, Room APM 3218
- Section ID 402523, Section A00
- There is no TA for this class
- 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. The third is new and I have not yet evaluated it.
- Information Visualization, by Robert Spence, Addison Wesley,
2001. ISBN 0-201-59626-1.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
Grades will be based on your project, and possibly a presentation of your
project and one or more exams; obviously your project, presentation, and exams
should reflect your familiarity with the readings, lectures and class notes;
see the information on projects. There will be
homework assignments, but they will not be graded; see me after class if you
Your grade will depend primarily on the quality of project, possibly tempered
by an assessment of your class participation.
- 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
three quizzes and the final exam, and also to the quizzes, midterm, and final
for an earlier version of CSE 171.
- 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 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. This course will be conducted as a seminar; we will discuss related
topics 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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Last modified: Wed Jan 23 20:19:00 PST 2002