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Week Four - Reference Material

Presentation Slides (pdf file)

Classroom Note

Warning: I plan to lightly touch on "Purpose", as in "What's the purpose of my life?" I think it's relevant, but it is a big topic. That was the focus of the course I offered last term at LIFE. The web based material for that course is still availble online, see Our Search for Meaning. I will only have time for a brief introduction in this class.

While searching on the web, I came upon the Ph.D. proposal of Claire Brophy (at Queensland University of Technology). She's proposing to investigate "Technology Use of the Third Age". Her proposal contains an extensive set of references on the subject. If you want to dig deeper into this field, her proposal is a very reasonable starting point.

The general question of how to design for older adults has been extensively studied. Designing for Older Adults, by Fisk, Rogers, Charness, Czaj and Sharit provides a reasonable terse overview of the field. The first two chapters introduce the subject and provide a good sense of the book.

Anita Silvers provides an interesting view of the ethical challenge of assistive technology. She contrasts the physician's "Return to normal", with the engineer's "As good as possible". There are arguments on both sides. Her words appear as the first chapter in Design and Use of Assistive Technology by Oishi, Mitchell, and Van der Loos.

User frustration with technology isn't confined to 3rd Age members. I drew on "User Frustration with Technology in the Workplace" (by Lazar, Jones, Bessiere, Ceaparu and Schneiderman). They present fairly dramatic numbers on the amount of frustration experienced in the workplace.

The idea that users fare best when they have a working model for how their technology works has been around for years. The working paper, "From Use to Effective Use" by Burton-Jones and Grange provide evidence behind the idea. 

Finally, I found an interesting position expressed in the Afterword to Gerontology in the Era of the Third Age, by Carr and Komp. Linda George argues that the whole idea of "The Third Age" is unfortunate. It sets up expectations and comparisons that should not be encouraged. It's worth reading, but I still find value in thinking of myself as a member of the 3rd Age.

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May 6 – June 10 (6 sessions) Time: Wednesdays, 10:10 a.m. – 11:55 a.m. Location