Human Factors Journal Celebrates 50 Years With Special Issue Highlighting Pivotal Research and Applications

The journal, Human Factors, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a retrospective of some pivotal research and areas. To celebrate, the entire issue is available online for free. Some highlights:

  • The Split Keyboard: An Ergonomics Success Story
  • The Role of Expertise Research and Human Factors in Capturing, Explaining, and Producing Superior Performance
  • Multiple Resources and Mental Workload
  • Putting the Brain to Work: Neuroergonomics Past, Present, and Future
  • Discoveries and Developments in Human-Computer Interaction
  • Aging and Human Performance

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society : Human Factors Journal Celebrates 50 Years With Special Issue Highlighting Pivotal Research and Applications

Scenes Of Nature Trump Technology In Reducing Low-level Stress

Technology can send a man to the moon, help unlock the secrets of DNA and let people around the world easily communicate through the Internet. But can it substitute for nature?  Apparently not, according to a new study that measured individuals’ heart recovery rate from minor stress when exposed to a natural scene through a window, the same scene shown on a high-definition plasma screen, or a blank wall.

Scenes Of Nature Trump Technology In Reducing Low-level Stress

Primary Sources for Safety

Freakanomics posted an interesting discussion with several construction workers, asking them what they thought the biggest safety concerns were in their area.

The plural of anecdote may not be data, but this is a good start if anyone wants to look at whether regulation (via unions) contributes to safety, what safety rules are ‘annoying’, and construction worker locus of control.

“What’s one safety rule you would initiate at your workplace? What rules are unnecessary?

On union jobs the safety rules tend to be comprehensive, and effectively enforced. On non-union jobs — haha.

Many non union jobs are criminally negligent about safety. And after years of Republican rule of federal government there is little realistic enforcement. In other countries when workers are killed in, say, a building collapse, somebody goes to prison when negligence is proven. Here they might be fined a paltry sum.

I have yet to encounter a safety rule that was unnecessary. Although some are annoying — like wearing masks.”

“What’s one safety rule you would initiate at your workplace? What rules are unnecessary?

I can’t think of any specific “rule” I would initiate … 98 percent of safety is just paying attention to what you are doing and to your surroundings.

You can’t mandate good judgment. Although many of the rules are good and grounded in common sense (they do create a general “culture” of safety), sometimes the letter of the law, so to speak, is enforced too much.

Many times you stand there and say, “I understand why this rule exists, but when applied blindly in this situation, it just doesn’t make sense.”

Human Factors Special Issue

Just a quick note that Computers in Human Behavior released a special issue on human factors in networked computing. There are some interesting articles in it, including:

Gloria Yi-Ming Kao, Pei-Lan Lei and Chuen-Tsai Sun

“Web searches entail complex cognitive processes influenced by individual differences, and users with similar cognitive or skill factors tend to develop multiple search strategies. The authors analyze such strategies in terms of level of thinking style (global versus local), search targets, and six search behavior indicators and report (a) a significant relationship between different thinking style levels and individual search target types and (b) that different thinking style level conditions can cause significant differences in search behavior performance regarding maximum depth of exploration, revisited pages, and Web pages visited for refining answers…”

Abdolhossein Sarrafzadeh, Samuel Alexander, Farhad Dadgostar, Chao Fan and Abbas Bigdeli

“Many software systems would significantly improve performance if they could adapt to the emotional state of the user, for example if Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs), ATM’s, ticketing machines could recognise when users were confused, frustrated or angry they could guide the user back to remedial help systems so improving the service. Many researchers now feel strongly that ITSs would be significantly enhanced if computers could adapt to the emotions of students. This idea has spawned the developing field of affective tutoring systems (ATSs)….”

Enjoy your summer reading!

Facebook for grandma?

“The Jive was created by Ben Arent, a college student, over a six-month period as part of his product design degree. The concept was designed to get elderly technophobes connected to their friends and family without feeling overwhelmed of learning how to use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. It would essentially be their own type of social networking.”

[link to Crave which includes a video demonstration]

Some progress in ATM interface design

Wells Fargo hired Pentagram in the fall of 2005 to begin work on a new user interface for their ATMs. Wells Fargo was in the process of upgrading their ATMs with touchscreen monitors. This was a relatively slow process, since there are about 7,000 ATMs in the field, and any upgrades are expensive. But with the vast majority to be converted during 2007, this was the perfect time to create a fresh UI that would fully utilize the touchscreen capability.

That design is money! – physical interface

Instant Messaging Proves Useful In Reducing Workplace Interruption

I think the basis for the widespread belief that IM is disruptive is that we don’t have co-workers on our IM, we have our friends 🙂

The study challenges the widespread belief that instant messaging leads to an increase in disruption. Some researchers have speculated that workers would use instant messaging in addition to the phone and e-mail, leading to increased interruption and reduced productivity.

Instead, research showed that instant messaging was often used as a substitute for other, more disruptive forms of communication such as the telephone, e-mail, and face-to-face conversations. Using instant messaging led to more conversations on the computer, but the conversations were briefer, said R. Kelly Garrett, co-author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State.

Instant Messaging Proves Useful In Reducing Workplace Interruption