User-Unfriendliness of personal technologies

Historian of technology Joseph Corn has written a fine book called “User Unfriendly: Consumer Struggles with Personal Technologies, from Clocks and Sewing Machines to Cars and Computers”. Corn analyses the user unfriendliness for early adopters of a range of personal technologies, primarily clocks, sewing machines, cars and computers as these are archetypical examples of personal technologies. His main claim is that none of these technologies subjected consumers to the hell like cars and computers.

I have written a paper about the book called “Of Cars, Computers and Hell: A Historical Perspective on User Unfriendliness of Personal Technologies” for the Danish HCI Symposium 2012. See abstract below and download the 4-page paper in pdf.

Abstract
In today’s fascination by sleek and powerful computing technology it is tempting to forget the origin of the technology. Highly relevant to HCI in this regard is a recent book by historian of technology Joseph Corn “User Unfriendly: Consumer Struggles with Personal Technologies, from Clocks and Sewing Machines to Cars and Computers”. Corn analyses the user unfriendliness for early adopters of a range of personal technologies, primarily clocks, sewing machines, cars and computers as these are archetypical examples of personal technologies. His main claim is that none of these technologies subjected consumers to the hell like cars and computers. Based on a thorough analysis of contem-porary accounts by early adopters, Corn convincingly drives home his point. This paper presents and discusses Corn’s book and main line of argument. The purpose of the paper is to sensitize the HCI community to the historical perspective.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: