User-Centered Technology: A Rhetorical Theory for Computers and Other Mundane Artifacts

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SUNY Press, 1998 - Computers - 195 pages
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User-Centered Technology presents a theoretical model for examining technology through a user perspective. Johnson begins with a historical overview of the problem of technological use from the ancient Greeks to the present day--a problem seen most clearly in historical discussions of rhetoric theory. The central portion of the book elaborates on user-centered theory by defining three focal issues of the theory: user knowledge, human-technology interaction, and technological determinism. Working from an interdisciplinary perspective, Johnson uses rhetoric theory to present a definition of user knowledge; human factors engineering to illuminate the ideological presuppositions built into technology design; and history, philosophy, and sociology to explain technological determinism, possibly the greatest impediment to user-centered technology development in modern times. The latter part of the book applies user-centered theory in two contexts: the nonacademic sphere, where the writing and design of computer user documentation is discussed, and the academic sphere, through a discussion of how user-centered concepts might drive university technical communication and composition curricula.

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About the author (1998)

Robert R. Johnson is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Master's Program in Technical and Scientific Communication at Miami University.

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