Book: The Inmates are Running the Asylum – Alan Cooper

Had a busy start to 2010 –  which tends to be a good thing when you are self employed.  Already been to London three times including a week at BETT2010 and the Learning and Technology World Forum which has been great but my blog has been suffering. My aim is to do a lot better in February with a post at least once a week.

The Inmates are Taking Over the Asylum

The Inmates are Taking Over the Asylum

Been reading a lot recently and one book I would recommend is  ‘The Inmates are Running the Asylum‘ by Alan Cooper. It is one of those books that tells you what you are already know but  improves the conceptual framework that underpins your thinking. A must read for anybody interested in why so many technology products turn out to be so incredible difficult to work, to the point where they really are unusable

The book is  about 10 years old now but the central argument continues to be relevant today. Cooper is an advocate of interactive design and he contrasts the mindset of the [stereotypical – LO’D]  engineer/programmer (homo logicus) – who wants control and accepts complexity as a trade off – with the rest of the human race (homo sapiens) who want simplicity and accepts less control as a trade off.

Cooper makes a powerful case for an enhanced role for design in technology – design for pleasure, design for power and crucially design that puts people back in the driving seat to ensure the end product is not just usable but also meets human goals.

Big lessons here for educational technology and a methodology that if applied rigorously would dramatically improve the lives of students and teachers across the world.

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