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1998-99 'authors@mit' series begins Oct. 8

The MIT Press series of talks and readings, "authors@mit," opens Thursday, Oct. 8 with a presentation by Donald Norman, whose new book, The Invisible Computer: Why Good Products Can Fail, the Personal Computer is So Complex, and Information Appliances are the Solution, was published by MIT Press this week. His talk is at 3:30pm in Rm 34-101.

Dr. Norman, professor emeritus of cognitive science at the University of California at San Diego and author of the classic The Design of Everyday Things, declares in The Invisible Computer that today's high technology business is "in a muddle."

"It has arrived at its current state by its heavy emphasis on technology, quite often technology for technology's sake. The modern computer is the culmination of this process, and, as I explain more fully in this book, it has led to an overly complex, fundamentally difficult machine--one that increasingly has come to dominate our lives," he writes in The Invisible Computer. "But the computer does not really meet our needs. It suffers from the rush, the haste, and, for that matter, the arrogance of the technology industry. The real needs of consumers are ignored,"

The remedy, argues Dr. Norman, is a "human-centered development process, even if it means reorganizing the entire company." His new book shows how.

Dr. Norman has been an executive at Hewlett-Packard and a vice president and Apple Fellow at Apple Computer. He has just started the Nielsen Norman Group, an executive consulting company that shows companies how to follow the lessons of The Invisible Computer.

Dr. Norman's appearance is co-sponsored by the Laboratory for Computer Science.

The "authors@mit" series continues with Danny Hillis, author of The Simple Ideas that Make Computers Work (October 19); Victor McElheny, former director of MIT's Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program and author of Insisting on the Impossible: The Life of Edwin Land (October 22); John Hejduk, author of Such Places as Memory (October 27); Robert Weinberg, MIT professor of biology and Whitehead Institute member, author of One Renegade Cell: The Quest for the Origins of Cancer (October 29); and Institute Professor Emeritus Philip Morrison and research scientist Kosta Tsipis, co-authors of Reason Enough to Hope: America and the World of the Twenty-first Century (November 10).

Times and locations for these events will be announced. All "authors@mit" events are free and open to the public.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 30, 1998.

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