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

1.1. interesting about the article?

In general, I find many of the ideas presented in the article interesting. Bill's idea of the computer as an appliance is in line with what I think many people expect from a computer: an easy-to-use machine to help with daily tasks such as keeping in contact with people, sending messages, finding out information, etc. People do not care so much what specific programs they are using, or in general how they achieve their objective in using a computer. They simply want to use a machine that will produce consistant results, with a consistant and simple interface.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

I strongly disagree with Bill's analogy of the radio as the equivalent of a browser. There is one extremely important physical connection his anology does not account for: a radio broadcast streams data in real time, there is no way to travel back to a previous point in a radio broadcast unless you are recording it. This is precisely what makes an Internet browser so useful, when you are browsing for information, you are free to travel back to a previous point in your browsing, to further investigate knowledge you found at a previous point. And what kind of radio stations even mention other radio stations in passing? The radio market is rather cutthroat, you would never have one radio station advertising for another, but once again this is precisely what happens via Internet links. One website latches onto the ideas of another and provides a link to that other website. Many websites are even dedicated to simply providing links to other interesting websites. This would be murder in the radio world, in which each station is competing for the most amount of the listener's time. The Internet is a much more collaborative media, and it is disconcerting that Bill would use such an inaccurate and shallow analogy in an otherwise insightful essay.

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

I consider the main message of the article that human interaction with computers needs to be drastically simplified. When other technology interfaces were brought to the mainstream, they were introduced into specific domains, with well-defined interfaces. Thus far, computer have been generic tools which run a variety of programs, each with a different interface, and this makes it hard for a typical consumer to use a computer. This essay is calling for a change in that ideology, in which uses of a computer would be broken up into specific tasks, each of which a specific product would handle singly and completely, each with a consistant user interface.

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?

I have to agree in the sense that this is what the general public wants and expects from using technolgoy. At the same time, I must also disagree because for any reliance in technology, there must be some portion of the population which completely understands the engineering side of the technology and is able to reproduce, improve and fix it.

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

I am a member of the group of people which is designing and repairing these systems, so of course I will be more interested in focusing on the engineering side of things. As a user of the systems I produce, it is important to have a solid design and interface, so these domains do overlap. Especially as the user of someone else's system, I expect to have a reasonably understandable interface, and some documentation to describe the design decisions and general usage of their system. This is probably not important, however, for a general user of the system.

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

Being in the computer science program, I would say I am directly addressing the technology and engineering side of things. In some realms of computer science, it is important to have a solid understanding of the engineering background involved, even if you are just building on top of an existing system. It will also always be important to present whatever data is related to a system to the user, so on some level the humanity side will always be relevant.

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?

I am not sure what there is to agree/disagree with.

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

From what I have seen, no one is a master of all these trades. Different people specialize in different areas as outlined above, and teams come together to form a system. Thus we do not expect an individual to maintain all these specialities, we expect them to be able to come together as a part of a team to contribute their specialty into the overall system.

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

I think the computer science program in general at least partially addresses this aspect by requiring classes from several disciplines within computer science. This insures graduates have a baseline knowledge of the concepts involve in computer science, while leaving room to specialize in other aspects of computer science via electives.

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

Certainly if we could reduce general computer interfaces to specific interfaces finely tuned for a specific task, the learning involved with using a computer system would descrease. And if people are using a computer system to work, chances are there are chances for collaboration in sharing one another's files, etc. The real challenge lies in designing systems which enable these two behaviors.