Donald Norman Owns a Crystal Ball, Uses It to Write a Book About Design


If you’re at all interested the future, you have two options. First, you can give this writer five dollars, he’ll close his eyes, making some sort of dramatic humming kind of noise while swaying violently back and forth, ultimately just making something up to tell you about the future so you’ll go away and he can buy a taco. Or, you can check out Donald Norman‘s new book, The Design of Future Things. Rather, the first chapter of it, which is available for free on the site. And if that doesn’t hook you, then we can go back to the five dollar fortune-telling thing. Here’s a bit from that opening chapter, “Cautious Cars and Cantankerous Kitchens: How Machines Take Control”:

As our technology becomes more powerful, more in control, its failure at collaboration and communication becomes ever more critical. Collaboration requires interaction and communication. It means explaining and giving reasons. Trust is a tenuous relationship, formed through experience and understanding. With automatic, so-called intelligent devices, trust is sometimes conferred undeservedly. Or withheld, equally undeservedly. The real problem, I believe, is a lack of communication. Designers do not understand that their job is to enhance the coordination and cooperation of both parties, people and machines. Instead, they believe that their goal is to take over, to do the task completely, except when the machine gets into trouble, when suddenly it becomes the person’s responsibility to take command.