Sunday, August 20, 2006

And this is what passes for news these days?

I finally saw Good Night, and Good Luck today, and was greatly inspired by Edward Murrow's closing lines:


To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck.


And then, just now, I checked out CNN's web site and see that the main headline deals with what an alleged murderer ate on the plane:



There are days when I think Neil Postman was right.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

CMU one of the new Ivies

According to MSNBC / Newsweek / Kaplan College Guide, Carnegie Mellon University is one of the "New Elite 'Ivies'".


A major national research university, Carnegie Mellon serves 5,500 undergrads and 3,000 grad students in seven colleges reflecting CMU's academic diversity: Carnegie Institute of Technology (engineering), the College of Fine Arts, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Mellon College of Science, the Tepper School of Business, the School of Computer Science and the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management.


I have to admit that I don't quite understand this obsession with Ivy League schools. Perhaps it's the journalists writing these kinds of stories. At any rate, it's good that CMU is getting more recognition. Hopefully, we'll be able to avoid more of Randy Pausch's experiences when he was trying to give away Carnegie Mellon branded CD's of Alice, where one person asked "Why is a bank giving away free software?"

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Google TechTalks

Just discovered this nice resource, Google has about 130 seminar talks online. Topics range from current affairs and science to entertainment and the arts.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=techtalks

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

10 Steps for Conducting a User Evaluation

Back in the early 1990s, Kathleen Gomoll wrote a short and useful article on running user studies. I find myself sending this to people all the time.

Link



1. Introduce yourself.
2. Describe the purpose of the observation.
3. Tell the participant that it's okay to quit at any time.
4. Talk about the equipment in the room.
5. Explain how to ├Čthink aloud.
6. Explain that you cannot provide help.
7. Describe the tasks and introduce the product.
8. Ask if there are any questions before you start; then begin the observation.
9. Conclude the observation.
10. Use the results.