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Which clippings match 'Easy Empiricism' keyword pg.1 of 1
22 JANUARY 2016

Humanities aren't a science. Stop treating them like one.

"I don't mean to pick on this single paper. It's simply a timely illustration of a far deeper trend, a tendency that is strong in almost all humanities and social sciences, from literature to psychology, history to political science. Every softer discipline these days seems to feel inadequate unless it becomes harder, more quantifiable, more scientific, more precise. That, it seems, would confer some sort of missing legitimacy in our computerized, digitized, number-happy world. But does it really? Or is it actually undermining the very heart of each discipline that falls into the trap of data, numbers, statistics, and charts? Because here's the truth: most of these disciplines aren't quantifiable, scientific, or precise. They are messy and complicated. And when you try to straighten out the tangle, you may find that you lose far more than you gain.

It's one of the things that irked me about political science and that irks me about psychology—the reliance, insistence, even, on increasingly fancy statistics and data sets to prove any given point, whether it lends itself to that kind of proof or not."

(Maria Konnikova, 10 August 2012, Scientific American)

Bruce McLean, "Pose Work for Plinths 3", 1971, 12 photographs, black and white, on paper on board, 75 x 68 cm (Tate).

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TAGS

appropriately complex representation • attempts to quantify the qualitative • Carol Tavris • easy empiricism • erroneous • error in reasoning • fallacious arguments • faulty reasoning • generalisable simplicity • hard science • Herbert Gintis • humanities • ignorance • imperative of generalisable simplicityimperative of proof • irreducible elements • Isaac Asimov • Italo Calvino • Jerome Kagan • Maria Konnikova • metricisation • nonsense • over-reliance on empirical methods • over-reliance on science • overly reductive • perils of reductionism • post hoc explanations • post hoc hypotheses • pseudoscience • psychohistorical trends • psychology • qualitative phenomena • quantifiable certainty • quantification • quantitative analysis • reduced to scientific explanation • reductionist perspective • Richard Polt • Scientific American (magazine) • scientific-seeming approaches • scientification • scientism • unquantifiable • unsound judgement

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
30 JUNE 2011

Beyond Usability: Process, Outcome and Affect in human computer interactions

"Currently, our best theories are limited in terms of their applicability to design. However, we cannot retreat into the easy empiricism of current usability perspectives where everything is measured in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction. Theory building must occur if we are to have long term impact and the diversity of experiences users can have with technology are not simply reduced to these operational criteria. We need to stretch our conception of interaction beyond performance and simple likes/dislikes. I argue for a richer sense of user experience, one that allows for aesthetics as much as efficiency and the creation of community discourse forms over time as much as the measurement of effectiveness in a single task. There is much work ahead but unless we embrace these issues as part of our research agenda, then the study of HCI will forever be piecemeal and weak, and its results will find little positive reception among the many designers and consumers who could most benefit from them."

(Andrew Dillon)

Dillon, A. (2001) Beyond usability: process, outcome and affect in human–computer interactions. Canadian Journal of Library and Information Science, 26(4), 57–69.

[Dillon argues for a richer sense of what constitutes web usability and resists the easy empiricism espoused by most usability engineers.]

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TAGS

aestheticsamateurism • Andrew Dillon • crisis of empiricism • cult of the amateur • diversity of experienceseasy empiricism • effectiveness • efficiencyengineeringHCImeasurementoperational criteriaperformanceperformativitypseudo science of web usabilitypseudosciencepsychologyrich user experiencesatisfactionsimple evaluationssingle task • stretch our conceptions • theoretical contexttheoretical reflectionuninformed perspectivesusability • usability perspectives • user experienceusers • web usability • web usability science

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
19 JANUARY 2011

The Fountainhead: parodying the absurdity of easy empiricism

Peter: "What do you think of this building? I'm taking a poll of the guests..." Dominique: – "A what?" Peter: "– A poll of opinion about it". Dominique: "What for? In order to find out what you think of it yourself?" Peter: "We have to consider public opinion, don't we?"

[After approaching Dominique Francon at the Enright Building opening – Peter Keating makes the assumption that Dominique Francon shares his faith in polling for deciding the worth of design.]

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TAGS

audience reaction • audience response • ballot • customer satisfaction • DCD • design by committeedesigner-centred design • Dominique Francon • easy empiricismend user studies • group opinion • impromptu straw poll • investment in mediocrity • limitations of quantitative methodologiesmediocrityopinionopinion pollsPatricia Neal • perpetuating mediocrity • Peter Keating • pollingpollspower without responsibilitypublic decision-making • public opinion • reinforcing prejudice • seeking approval • simple evaluations • straw poll • straw vote • testing perpetuates mediocritytesting processThe Fountainheaduninformed opinionuninformed perspectivesunqualified opinionusability testinguser testinguser-based evaluationwhat I reckon

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
05 NOVEMBER 2009

The web design guru that web designers love to hate

"Nielsen's approach is to test usability using one or preferably more real users. Unlike the site's designers and other company employees, real users don't know what they're supposed to do, and often won't take the time to find out. 'One of the main reasons companies need systematic usability studies is to make explicit the fact that outside customers don't find your design as important as you do,' he writes in his latest column on Use it.

According to Nielsen Norman research, 'users visiting a new site spend an average of 30 seconds on the homepage and less than two minutes on the entire site before deciding to abandon it. They spend a bit more time if they decide to stay on a site, but still only four minutes on average.' If they have to spend 15 of their 30 seconds figuring out which link to click on your home page, you've probably lost them. He says: 'Thus, websites should have almost no features: focus on the words.'

Plenty of people make a living adding features with Adobe's Flash and Sun's Java, so you can add a few more to Nielsen's piles of potential haters.

He added a few more recently by posting an article that upset some bloggers, including ex–Microsoft geek Robert Scoble. In Write Articles, Not Blog Postings, Nielsen wrote: 'To demonstrate world–class expertise, avoid quickly written, shallow postings. Instead, invest your time in thorough, value–added content that attracts paying customers.'. That's the aim on Use It, where casual visitors can be converted into buying reports or attending conferences, and so on."

(Jack Schofield, The Guardian, 9 August 2007)

[Jakob Nielsen is a key proponent of the information–centred approach to online communication.]

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TAGS

2007Adobe Flashcommunicationcontentdesign • dilettante connoisseurship • easy empiricisminformationinformation designinformation-centred designInternetJakob Nielsenpseudo science of web usability • Robert Scoble • shallow posting • systematictechnologyusabilityuseitweb designwebsite

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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