O'Reilly logo

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Things That Make Us Smart

Book Description


Insightful and whimsical, profoundly intelligent and easily accessible, Don Norman has been exploring the design of our world for decades, exploring this complex relationship between humans and machines. In this seminal work, fully revised and updated, Norman gives us the first steps towards demanding a person-centered redesign of the machines we use every day.

Humans have always worked with objects to extend our cognitive powers, from counting on our fingers to designing massive supercomputers. But advanced technology does more than merely assist with memory—the machines we create begin to shape how we think and, at times, even what we value. In THINGS THAT MAKE US SMART, Donald Norman explores the complex interaction between human thought and the technology it creates, arguing for the development of machines that fit our minds, rather than minds that must conform to the machine.


Table of Contents

  1. Things That Make Us Smart
  2. Copyright
  3. Table of Contents
  4. Chapter Notes and Book Design
  5. Preface
    1. A Quartet of Books
    2. A Personal Note
    3. Acknowledgments
  6. One: A Human-Centered Technology
    1. Toward a Human-Centered View of Technology and People
    2. Two Kinds of Cognition
  7. Two: Experiencing the World
    1. Experiential and Reflective Cognition
    2. Two Kinds of Cognition, Three Kids of Learning
      1. Accretion
      2. Tuning
      3. Restructuring
    3. Optimal Flow
  8. Three: The Power of Representation
    1. Cognitive Artifacts
    2. Matching the Representation to the Task
    3. How Representations Aid Information Access and Computation
      1. Example: Medical Prescriptions
    4. Representing Number
      1. Additive and Substitutive Representations
    5. Naturalness and Experiential Condition
  9. Four: Fitting the Artifact to the Person
    1. Surface and International Representation
      1. Properties of Surface Representations
      2. The Tower of Hanoi, Oranges, and Coffee Cups
    2. Fitting the Representation to the Task
      1. Graphic Representations
      2. Psychological Scales and Representation
      3. Digital Versus Analog Displays
    3. Fitting the Representation to the Person
    4. Technologies Have Affordances
  10. Five: The Human Mind
    1. The Origin of Human Intelligence
    2. Human Cognition
      1. The Power of Stories
      2. Error
      3. Tunnel Vision
  11. Six: Distributed Cognition
    1. Disembodied Intelligence
    2. In the World, Impossible Things Are Possible
    3. Why Accuracy Is Not Always Important
  12. Seven: A Place for Everything, and Everything in its Place
    1. The Vertical Filing Cabinet: A Technological Breakthrough
    2. Organizing Knowledge
    3. Navigating through Cyberspace
    4. The Electronic Library
  13. Eight: Predicting the Future
    1. Examining the Past
      1. The Accuracy of Predictions
      2. The Time Frame of Predictions
    2. Predicting the Future
      1. Problem Areas
    3. The Power to Fantasize
      1. Science Fiction and the Technologies for Interacting with Machines*
    4. Multiple Minds
    5. Why Is It More Fun to Read about the New Technologies than to Use Them?
  14. Nine: Soft and Hard Technology
    1. Machine-Centered versus Human-Centered Views
    2. The Language of Logic
    3. Soft versus Hard Technology
      1. The Telephone System
    4. Appropriate Technology
      1. The Stamp Machine
      2. Rabbit
  15. Ten: Technology Is Not Neutral
    1. Is the Medium the Message?
      1. Reflective Thought
    2. Appropriate Use of Technology
      1. The Human Side of Technology
    3. Making Technology Humane
  16. Chapter Notes
  17. References
  18. More from Don Norman
  19. Connect with Diversion Books