The Computer User as Toolsmith: The Use, Reuse, and Organization of Computer-Based Tools

Greenberg, S. (1993)
The Computer User as Toolsmith: The Use, Reuse, and Organization of Computer-Based Tools. 187 pages. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-40430-4, Call Number QA76.9H85G73.

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Abstract

General-purpose computer environments that furnish a large set of diverse tools are difficult to use. Not only are the tools---editors, mail programs, language processors, and utilities for filing and printing---difficult to use individually, but there are inadequate means of organizing them so that they are at hand when needed.

Craftspeople have workshops with physical components that facilitate the organization of their tools. They use work surfaces for recently used tools, toolboxes for arranging tools, and workbenches for performing specific tasks. Although people impose some organization on to their computer tools, computing environments do little to promote personal organization. The chief problem in designing a command interpreter or menu system that allows people to reuse and organize their on-line activities is the dearth of knowledge of how users behave when issuing commands to general-purpose computer systems. Consequently, existing user-support facilities are ad hoc designs that do not support natural work habits.

The Computer user as Toolsmith describes several empirical studies from which the author has developed a computer version of a handyman's workbench that would help users work with their on-line activities. For the practitioner and interface designer, the guidelines and principles offered here are directly applicable to the rational design of new systems and the modernization of old ones. For the researcher and graduate student, the book offers a wealth of analysis and interpretation of data, as well as a survey of research techniques.

Bibtex entry

@BOOK { 1993-ToolsmithBook.CUP,
CLASS = { BOOK },
AUTHOR = { Greenberg, S. },
TITLE = { The Computer User as Toolsmith: The Use, Reuse, and Organization of Computer-Based Tools },
PUBLISHER = { Cambridge University Press },
ADDRESS = { Cambridge },
YEAR = { 1993 },
PAGES = { 187 pages. },
NOTE = { ISBN 0-521-40430-4, Call Number QA76.9H85G73 },
}