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Gerhard Fischer and Hal Eden: “Design, Learning, and Collaboration” — Spring Semester 2005

Assignment 8: HCI, HPDC, HFAs (Buxton Article) - Jodi Kiefer


Buxton, W. (2001) "Less is More (More or Less)." In P. J. Denning (Ed.), The Invisible Future — the seamless integration of technology in everyday life, McGraw-Hill, New York, pp. 145-179. available at:

Briefly discuss the following issues:

1. what did you find (articulate the answers in your own words)

1.1. interesting about the article?

I found this article very interesting and it brought up some issues that I have not thought about before. For example, the basic design of a computer has changed very little over the last 30 years (i.e. most computers still have a monitor, keyboard and mouse). I also found Buxton’s observation of the public’s view of a computer interesting. How, when asked to draw a computer in today’s world and one from the 1960’s, people draw the input and output devices related to the computer and not the computer itself.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

I enjoyed reading this article and found it all entertaining.

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?

Buxton is trying to convey the need for a change in the way technology is designed from the technically-capable view to a more human-centric one. By stressing a “think outside of the box” approach, he presents suggestions on how the design of technology should be attuned to human-capability versus system functionality.

3. Please comment on the following claim: “Despite the increasing reliance on technology in our society, in my view, the key to designing a different future is to focus less on technology and engineering, and far more on the humanities and the design arts.”

3.1. agree / disagree?


3.2. which are the personal consequences which you draw from this statement?

I agree with Buxton and believe that our technology advancements have been focused on the following question: What can we make it do? Whereas, I believe that our focus should be more centered on how can we apply this technology to make an everyday task simpler or more efficient. In order to shift this focus, I agree that we need to look to humanities to understand how one learns and lives within the world.

3.3. are the educational programs you are involved addressing this claim?

This class and the Learning with Multimedia class I am taking both incorporate students from different disciplines to encourage collaboration, insight and diversity among topics discussed. While the diversity among the disciplines includes areas from computer science to education to cognitive learning, these classes do lack participation from the design arts.

4. Please comment on the following claim: “Given the much discussed constraints on human ability, how can we expect an individual to maintain the requisite specialist knowledge in their technological discipline, while at the same time have the needed competence in industrial design, sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc., which this essay implies are required to do one’s job?”

4.1. agree / disagree?

See 4.2

4.2. which are the personal consequences which you draw from this statement?

While this article stresses the need for a competence in humanities as well as in a technological discipline, it does not stress the need for an individual to master each area. Instead, it proposes collaboration among a Renaissance team composed of individual specialists in each field. I agree with this statement of the need for collaboration between humanities and technological disciplines.

4.3. are the educational programs you are involved addressing this claim?

Again, both of the classes mentioned above incorporate projects with students from different disciplines to allow us to experience and benefit from the expertise of each other.

5. Do you feel that the “Design, Learning, and Collaboration” course addresses these two claims?

Yes I do. Although this class is comprised of mainly computer science students it does have a small population of education students (at least one that I know of). Even though the diversity is small, we have so far been are introduced to a wide-range of topics which incorporate different disciplines through the papers that we have read and discussed.

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