Monday, January 22, 2007

rewiring how we think

update: i made a shirt out of this. read below then check it out.
look at the picture below. what do you see?



Click here to see a clearer picture


look back at the original picture. i'm sure you see it now. unfortunately (or fortunately) you will likely always see the picture in this new way now. you're tuned into it.

i saw this in a paper i'm reading called Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction by Thomas Landauer.

what does this have to do with human-computer interaction? the paper is trying to make the point that an expert who has worked with a system for a long time can no longer think like a basic user, and hence we should be wary of relying on expert intuition alone when making usability decisions that might affect all users. landauer writes:

One you 'see' something, your cognitive structure (your brain, if you must) has been irreversibly changed, and you no longer see the world in the same way. What you could not see before you can now see easily, and it is virtually impossible to put yourself in the place of a person who has not had the same experience. If this brief experience can have such a dramatic effect, imagine what profound perceptual changes must result from tens or hundreds of hours of practice with an initially alien computer system.
of course, this idea extends beyond building usable computer systems.

it's fascinating to see that my brain has latched onto this structure. i did not see the cow prior to seeing the second image. now all i see is cow. what hope do i have of changing my perceptions about long-held beliefs where the evidence to the contrary might not be as clear-cut as the cow?

i miss the days when i could rewire my brain quite easily.

2 comments:

bea said...

eh, take some drugs that'll erase your memory...I'm sure you can find some good ones around some street corner :)

s2truong@uwaterloo.ca said...

This is highly interesting. Have you seen the Arrow in the FedEx logo? It's all I can see now when I look at it.

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