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May 13 , 2010

Psychology of System Design


This is a book about systems, including: systems in which humans control machines; systems in which humans interact with humans and the machine component is relatively unimportant; systems which are heavily computerized and those that are not; and governmental, industrial, military and social systems.

The book deals with both traditional systems like farming, fishing and the military, and with systems just now tentatively emerging, like the expert and the interactive computer system. The emphasis is on the system concept and its implications for analysis, design and evaluation of these many different types of systems.

The book attempts to make three major points: 1. System design, and particularly computer system design, must fit into and be directed by a comprehensive theory of system functioning. 2. Interactive computer design models itself upon our knowledge of how humans function. 3. Highly sophisticated interactive computer systems are presently mostly research vehicles, they are vastly different to general purpose, commercially available word processors and personal computers.

The book represents an interdisciplinary approach, the author has used psychological, organizational, human factors, and engineering sources. The book is not a "how to do it" book but it is intended to stimulate thinking about the larger context in which systems, particularly computer systems of the future, should be designed and used.

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