Human-Computer Interaction

I. Scott MacKenzie

Published by

Morgan Kaufmann

ISBN

9780124058651

RRP

£30.99

Reviewed by

 A P Sutcliffe, PG Dip, MBCS

Score

8 out of 10

Human computer interaction is a surprisingly broad topic. Although it generally refers to the various methods of inputting data, it can also cover the psychology of why people make the choices that they do, how they perceive the world around them as well as the more prosaic issue of how they actually complete the various tasks that are part of their daily routine.

This is intended to be a textbook specifically for use in teaching the topic at a degree level, and it achieves that aim in no small measure. Although it is comprehensive and authoritative, it doesn’t come across as dry, tedious or boring in any manner. The text is clear, slightly conversational and offers a refreshing look at the field of study.

The book contains a number of interesting case studies designed to illustrate the various issues, and it also contains some questionnaires and other example material , all designed to make the reader query how and why they do things.

The author clearly makes the point that there is no ‘right way’ to do any given task, but that it will depend very much on what is right for the individual and that it is appropriate to constantly review processes in order to determine the best way at the time.

It also offers a historical perspective of the development of much of the current equipment and software; and along with the evolutionary process, it offers a brief insight into the commercial and political decisions that were taken at the time. The author does give some views on a few of these, but generally takes a more neutral position that allows the reader to make up their own mind.

Within the text is a significant amount of detail on research methodology, topic selection and how to formulate and undertake testing to validate hypotheses.

In addition, it contains a rather large amount of material that would require a good grounding in mathematics, especially statistical analysis. This might cause a few problems for some readers without the relevant background, but should not detract too much from the overall message.

The book doesn’t have to be read all the way through; many sections can be read as separate items without having had to read the rest of the book. However, some sections are not entirely stand-alone and would need some preparatory reading in order to get the most benefit.

This is not a book that would be read for leisure, but it is one that is well worth reading if you are involved in any way in the development of hardware or software.

Further information: Morgan Kaufmann

November 2013