CSE271: User Interface Design: Social and Technical Issues

1. Introduction: Issues, problems, approaches. Technology; ergonomics; individual psychology, HCI (Human-Computer Interface), cognitive modelling; sociology, CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work), group psychology, ethnomethodology; organizational issues. The role and importance of each level, and their relationships.

2. The internet and the web. What they are and why they change things; HTML, Java, JavaScript, etc.; convergence. Various guidelines and principles for webbing. Evolution from HCI to CSCW and the emergence of the social in computing.

3. Actor-Network Theory. Actors (including both human and nonhuman components), networks, mobilization, delegation, boundary objects, infrastructural inversion, etc. Illustrated in a large transportation project.

4. Semiotics. Signs, structure of signs, sign systems. Ferdinand de Saussure; phonetics and phonemics; vowel systems. Charles Saunders Peirce and his 3-fold notion of semiosis, and his notions of icon, index and symbol. Applications to notation.

5. Algebraic Semiotics. Sign systems with sorts, subsorts, constructors, priority. Abstract data types. Examples: natural language syntax; time of day notations; menu structure; HTML structures; and more.

6. Semiotic Morphisms. Meaning and representation. Structure preserving maps between sign systems; ordering semiotic morphisms by quality. Examples: menu structures; HTML structures; proof structure; and more. We will see that in many cases, simple calculations can show that one representation is better than another. Blends and oxymorons.

7. Gradient Logic. Work of Peter Bogh Andersen on the design of an interactive museum, and on logics for interaction.

8. 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 dimension; narratives.

Note: This outline does not reflect relative coverage or importance of topics; in particular, much of the reading effort will go into the first topic, as we go through Shneiderman.

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27 February 1998