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This is another paper about human-centered approach::

Abstract : “The cornerstone of the human-centred tradition lies in two notions: socially useful production and human machine symbiosis. However, only the latter became in focus in the successive user-centred design approaches. The paper makes a critical ‘flash-back’ to various human centred design approaches since the 1970s. In addition, it explores the sustainability challenges facing the current situation and suggests that ‘human-centredness’ should be extended to ‘human-context centred’ approach in order to recognize the challenges of the sustainability. Finally, the paper discuss the possibilities to develop and use narrative and modelling simulation methods including both qualitative and quantitative tools in a combined approach to meet the challenges of sustainable development within such a human-context centred approach.”


I have been thinking about taking “human-centered design” as my overarching position for the design of ebooks, because as I mentioned in my earlier posting, “human-centered design” approach, which I think is about making human’s experience more explicitly, will lead me to get deeper understanding about readers’ rich reading experience (including their emotion).

However, after I read Norman’s article “Human-Centered Design Considered Harmful” at, I feel like I need to do literature review first about differences among “user-centered design,””human-centered design,””activity-centered design,” “experience-centered (?)” and “the like.”

The following quote was taken from one section, “WHY MIGHT HCD BE HARMFUL?”
“But there are more serious concerns: first, the focus upon humans detracts from support for the activities themselves; second, too much attention to the needs of the users can lead to a lack of cohesion and added complexity in the design. Consider the dynamic nature of applications, where any task requires a sequence of operations, and activities can be comprised of multiple, overlapping tasks. Here is where the difference in focus becomes evident, and where the weakness of the focus on the users shows up.” 

Does this make sense to you guys?

I selected Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology over Husserl’ transcendental phenomenology in understanding a reader’s reading experience because:

1)    Husserl’ transcendental phenomenology is based on the assumption that mind and body are separate. On the hand, Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology is based on the assumption that mind and body are not separate (i.e., intertwined together). In other words, Husserl’ transcendental phenomenology is based on the assumption that the meanings of the world exist out there, which is separate from human-beings, and human-beings need to find the meanings of the world. On the other hand, Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology is based on the assumption that the meanings of the world come to human-beings through human-beings’ interaction with the world. That is, Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology argues that the meanings of the world depend on the ways that human-beings encounter the world.  

2)    A reader will go through different experience, depending on contexts in which a reader is while a reader is reading. Is reading for pleasure or for academic reasons? In other words, a reader’s reading experience will be quite different, even in the situation where a reader reads the same reading material, but with different purposes of reading. For example, let me suppose that you are reading an academic article for two reasons: one for checking whether the article is relevant to your research topic; the other for mastering the whole content areas for your dissertation. The world of text for checking relevance will lead a reader to skim texts and pick up key idea(s), whereas the world of text for mastering content areas will lead a reader to read more thoroughly word by word.

3)    That is, as Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology argues, the meanings of text world are not fixed before a reader reads text. Rather, the meanings of text world are made through a reader’s interaction with text based on contexts in which a reader is (e.g., the purpose of reading). In other words, the world consists of different kinds of life-world, but what kinds of life-world will appear to a reader depend on a reader’s interaction with text and contexts in which a reader is.

Did I get Heidegger’s hermeneutic and Husserl’ transcendental phenomenology correctly? Does my argument (why I selected Heidegger’s hermeneutic phenomenology over Husserl’ transcendental phenomenology) make sense? Did I justify my argument?

I had chance to watch David Kelley’s talk, “The future of design is human-centered,” from the TED website at

David Kelly said that “Human-centered design is really involved in designing like behaviors and personalities into product.” Hum… it was not easy for me to get what it means right away, but I got insights by watching actual product examples in his talk.

In particular, after I watched the first example, which is about a Prada retail store and dressing room, I came to conclusion that human-centered is about experience-centered, because this product is all about enhancing customers’ experience.

How can we achieve this goal? I think that phenomenology is a right tool for human-centered design, because phenomenology helps us reveal our take-for-granted experience more explicitly.

Any thoughts?

I just found Yo-Yo Ma’s talk about his passion, people & music. It is a so insightful talk. I listened to this clip over and over and finally decided to write it down. I think he really does a great job in interpreting music from a phenomenological perspective.

Yo-Yo Ma’s talk about his passion, people & music

“[…] that my great passion in my life is not about doing anything but it’s actually people, over and over again figuring out where people come from, what they do, why they do it, and who they are, how they view themselves, and how others view them. And through that, music finally makes a lot of sense to me because I could then look at any music. […] Music is expression of people. Always […]”
“I always think music is some form of expression that does travel through time and space but using energy. Sound is something that is a form of energy. It is energy that moves through air molecular. Therefore, we hear the sound. We interpret the sound. I think that the sound that humans make inevitably is reflection of their both inner thinking patterns, feeling patterns, thought patterns, as well as their physical patterns. […] I think that sound as expressed by people will inevitably reveal internal working of people.”
“I think music does somehow express the inner working, the inner life of human being the way speech does, the way writing. If you read someone’s letters from three hundred years ago, you know the letter between John and Abigail Adam, you can really feel who they are as people. I think music is no difference. If someone wrote something in Philadelphia in 1700, you get a sense of who they are and what their influences were and deeply what they are trying to say. And I think that’s it’s by discerning what the patterns are in they choose and how they use melody, how they use different forms of rhythm and harmony. You get a sense of what the priority are and those priorities will reveal what their inner life priorities also are. ”

I got Jeff’s comment on my writing outline this afternoon. I decided to sit back and think about my feelings, instead of my cognition, while I am reading academic articles and reading for pleasure.

When I read a novel, I think I tend to forget myself as a reader and treat myself as one of characters in the novel. Therefore, I feel and think the way that that character feels and thinks. (I think I do not separate myself from a novel or an author when I read a book for pleasure.)

In the meantime, when I read an academic article, I think I feel like I am in the process of a job interview under a strong pressure. If an interviewer (the author) asks easy questions or talks about easy topics, I will be so excited and ready to answer the questions (more engagement in conversation). However, if an interviewer (the author) asks difficult questions or talks about very difficult topics, I will be getting to be so nervous and try to remember something I prepare for interviews.

What else am I feeling while I am reading academic articles??

BumpTop ::

BumpTop from TED Talk

I just got this video clip link from my friend. It just reminds me of my previous posting about why people do not like to use ebooks. I argued that people do not like to use ebooks, because ebooks are a lack of signifiers. I think this interface design (“BumpTop”) does a really good job in adding meaningful signifiers into a “clueless” pdf file icon.

Two signifiers which caught up my attention were that 1) this interface enables a user to manipulate a size of a pdf file icon (that is, if a user thinks that one specific pdf file is more important than the other, s/he can make a icon size of that specific pdf file bigger.) ; 2) this interface also enables a user to feel a weight of a file (a weight is a somewhat redundant signifier, along with a icon size, but it still does a good job as a meaningful signifier.).

I think it might be a good idea that I share the sequence model which our team has done for contextual inquiry in the past.  In short, we identify all necessary steps which a user goes through to accomplish a specific task, identify intent(s) for step(s), identify breakdowns (i.e., obstacles, difficulties) which a user encounters and propose solution(s) for those breakdowns.  


I have been thinking about signifiers about the book. Actually, I was so surprised that pbooks (paper books) is full of signifiers. I think I need to keep finding signifiers of pbooks for my own fun, secret activity J

Anyway, ever since I was interested in ebooks, I have kept asking to myself why people do not want to use ebooks. Some researchers believe that because people have been so accustomed to pbooks for many decades, people do not want to use ebooks. Therefore, some researchers believe we need to keep using the metaphor of pbooks for the design of ebooks (even though some researchers believe that ebooks need new metaphors). Personally, I think the 3D shape of pbook for the design of ebook is not the ideal solution in the long run, because if we stick to the metaphor of pbook, we might not find a better metaphor for “ereading“.

One day, I looked at pbooks, with colorful and diverse shapes of book covers, on my bookshelf. I suddenly realized that the reason people do not want to use ebooks might be the lack signifiers of ebooks. Look at pdf files saved in your computer desktop! Oh my god! All pdf files are exactly same, except for the file names.  Look at pbook on your bookshelf. Each book cover of each book (the spine of the book) tells us many facts/stories (signified) even at a simple glance:
dusty vs. pretty new look
cheerful vs. serious picture
my personal story (e.g., when I buy, why I buy)

I do not know yet, but I think I start to think about how to create meaningful signifiers for ebooks.

I collected “signifiers” from textbooks and identified what those signifiers “signified”;

Year of publication: This gives a clue to how recently the book has been published
Table of Contents: This gives a clue to how many chapters the book has and what this book is about
The number of chapter, The number of page: This gives a clue to where I am currently
Heading, Subheading: This gives a clue to how big or small the concept is, how each concept is related with each other
Indentation, paragraph: This gives a clue that a new idea will start
Bold, italicized word(s): This gives a clue to how important word(s) or concept(s) is
Bulleted points: This gives a clue that it is a main point.
Summary: This gives a clue that it will give the big picture of the chapter

I will keep adding more signifiers/signified as found. I am thinking about exploring signifiers in the level of a word, such as “not,” “but,”instead of,” and “for example”
See you in the second round!

referential (content)
This refers to a device that allows people to read texts electronically.

metalingual (code)
This can be used in a way that people get texts remotely and read texts electronically.

formal (form)
This consists of electronic texts, screen, keyboard and page tuners.

expressive (addresser)
The addressers are the authors of books who allow Amazon to deliver their books via this device.

phatic (contact)
The addressers and the addresses can be contacted only via this device. Thus, addressers, who do not allow Amazon to deliver their books, and addressees, who do not have this device, will be excluded.  

conative (addressee)
The addressees are readers who have this device.

contextual (situation)
In the situation where people want to read texts electronically while they are traveling or studying