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Usability [Jan. 3rd, 2007|09:09 pm]
My workshop is about forecast integration. That is, taking various pieces and interconnecting them so everyone gets more value. We've gotten to "usability" pretty quickly, which is to say, not just "throwing data over the transom", but engaging with users to find out what they need. Of course, that's not just asking people what they want, because sometimes you need to push back on what people ought to be asking for, so that means getting involved in a two-way dialogue.

People on both sides would benefit from dialogue, so why isn't it happening already? The usual answer to "why doesn't X happen" is "because nobody's being paid to do it". That applies here, I think. Scientists don't engage end-users in dialogue because they're not rewarded for doing so, and there's an opportunity cost for doing that instead of something that will get you more funding. So I think the big question for tomorrow is: how do we pay for the dialogue? That, and: will my poster have a demo?

Unrelatedly, I really can't cope with non-tabbed browsing anymore. Even though I regard IE with great scorn, I'm glad the latest version copied it from Firefox. It lessens the annoyance of being stuck with it.

[User Picture]From: jofish22
2007-01-04 02:28 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. But I think -- definitely in my field -- it's unfortunately common to simultaneously claim that one is producing a system/product/device to show it can be produced, and yet also have real, honest-to-god users trying to use the thing. And in that case, I (personally) feel it's a moral imperative to talk to users.
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[User Picture]From: melted_snowball
2007-01-04 02:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I agree then. (And as you say, if you're going to actually have real users, it will save vast quantities of time to have them involved early. But this is one of those basic software engineering things, like having a decent spec, etc., that people are always atrocious at, and at which academics and scientists are the worst.)
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