CSE 271: User Interface Design: Social and Technical Issues

1. Introduction: Issues, history, motivation. Levels of analysis: technology; ergonomics; individual psychology, HCI (Human-Computer Interface), cognitive modelling; sociology, CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work), ethnomethodology, organizational issues. Evolution from technology to ergonomics to HCI to CSCW; emergence of the social in computing. Convergence. The agent squabble.

2. Semiotics. Design, sign, and semiotics. Saussure's 2-fold notion of sign; phonetics and phonemics; vowel systems. Peirce's 3-fold notion of sign, and his notions of icon, index and symbol. Applications to notation and HCI.

3. Theories, guidelines, approaches. Critique of logical cognitivism and grammatical formalism; tacit knowledge. Use of guidelines, style sheets, and social impact statements. How to find out what users need; critical comparison of methods. Ethnomethodology and conversation analysis: turntaking, repair, recipient design, adjacency pairs, and noticeable absence; application to video conferencing.

4. Sign Systems. Structure of signs and sign systems: sorts, subsorts, constructors, priority; relation to abstract data types. Examples: natural language syntax; time of day notations; menu structure; etc.

5. Semiotic Morphisms. Meaning and representation. Structure preserving maps between sign systems. Examples: menu structures; natural language syntax; lecture slides; etc. Ordering semiotic morphisms by quality; calculations for showing one representation better than another. Applications to summarizing and visualizing information, to HTML and XML, and to metaphors, blends, and oxymorons.

6. Interactive Multimedia Systems. Work of Peter Bøgh Andersen on the design of interactive multimedia "texts" using ideas from dynamical systems, especially phase space, and logics for interaction. Andersen's Viking Museum project.

7. Actor-Network Theory. Actors (including both human and nonhuman components), networks, mobilization, delegation, boundary objects, infrastructural inversion, symmetry, etc. Application to the so called "Digital Divide."

8. Discourse Analysis. Labov's structural theory of narrative: the narrative presupposition; narrative and evaluative clauses. Jokes, plans, and explanations. Applications to requirements elicitation.

9. Proofs. Proofs as a site for research on user interface problems. The tatami project: distributed cooperative formal methods; software proofs as a domain with some advantages. Formal proofs vs. natural proofs; pictures and models as proofs; the social dimensions of proofs.

There are also extensive class notes for this course: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, A.
Note: This outline does not reflect the order, relative coverage, or importance of topics; in particular, much of the reading effort will go into the first and third topics, as we go through the text by Shneiderman. Also the outline is subject to change, and its items do not correspond to weeks.

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