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Ted Selker

Relationships,Things and Communication
Ted Selker
USER System Ergonomics Lab, IBM Almaden Reserach Center


The invisibility of a tool (and visibility of a task) makes us say that good user interface is “taking the tool out of the task”. So... We have been working to make things look like what they are. We made circuit boards with graphical descriptions etched into them to aid debugging. We have replaced rows of radio buttons for setting up a computer with a 3-D selectable image of the computer itself. While these efforts simplify interface there is more.... We have been making behavioral matches in user interface to improve peoples productivity with computers. We have created pointing devices which give performance gains by conforming to physical and psychological human constraints. We model users to work to their particular situation. But still we are missing something... A user has at least two relationships with a tool; the task/function that we as engineers have been obsessed with... and visible physical-ness. This visibleness identifies a tool and is the intrinsic aesthetic value of the object. This “object value” is communicated through its feel and look. This visibleness of a tool has so much to do with our sense of self, belonging and value... A lot of us prefer to wear heavy low function water sensitive watches than feature-full durable light weight models. This talk will describe some the explorations that we are engaged in for considering new proposals for using computers.


Dr. Ted Selker is an IBM Fellow. He works on cognitive, graphical and physical interface. Ted teaches at Stanford, and previously worked at Xerox PARC and Atari Sunnyvale Research Laboratory. Ted is known for the design of the "TrackPoint III" in keyboard pointing device with performance advantages derived from a special behavioral/motor match algorithm, creating the "COACH", adaptive agent that improves user performance shipping this Fall in OS2, and the design of the 755CV notebook computer that doubles as an LCD projector.

User System Ergonomics Research (USER)
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