WINTER 2004 -- Information and Computer Science -- UC Irvine -- David G. Kay -- ICS 104


This assignment is due by noon on Friday, February 6.

(a) In the last week or two, we have discussed (and you have read about) these topics among others:

Pick three of these six topics; for each of the three, choose an example from your HCI notebook (or find an example from your own experience if your notebook doesn't have one) that illustrates the topic. Your examples may show a misapplication or misunderstanding of the principles or may be a particularly good example; in either case, describe and analyze each example using the terms and guidelines that pertain to the topic it illustrates. If your example is a negative one, suggest an improvement and describe why your suggestion is better.

A dozen pithy lines of text should be sufficient (where "pithy" means clean, clear, well-organized, terse, and not padded) for each of the three examples; half a page for each is an absolute maximum. (Again, this refers just to the text; you will probably use more than half a page each, counting illustrations.)

(b) How many different items have you recorded in your HCI notebook so far? We'll give full credit for any truthful answer to this, even zero, but we'd like to know how much use the class is making of these notebooks.

(c) Look at the HP Cooltown video (giving a vision of ubiquitous computing) at, considering it in terms of agents, anthropomorphism, social conventions, and its emotional effects on its users. You may answer in terms of the technological vision (i.e., assuming that the system will be implemented essentially as described in the video) or in terms of technological realities and limitations (i.e., considering what difficulties might actually prevent the video's vision from being realized), or both. What social and emotional effects, especially unintended ones, might Cooltown produce?

Give your reaction, opinion, and analysis of these issues in half a (single-spaced) page, with one page as a maximum. At that relatively short length, of course you won't be able to cover every aspect in depth; just show us that you've thought seriously about these issues.

(d) This part is preparation for a later assignment.

Pick a partner who is also enrolled in the class. Together, find three different application programs that perform the same function. Choose applications that do something relatively simple: Rather than a word processor or a database or a graphics editor, choose a desktop calculator, a virtual alarm clock, a Shanghai game, an instant messaging client, or any other single-function tool. Identify three different versions (perhaps using shareware sources on the Internet; nobody should have to purchase anything for this assignment) and install them on a machine (or machines) you can use. It would also be acceptable to choose three web sites with similar aims (e.g., the travel sites Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity), though they may be more complex than single-function applications.

In a later assignment, we will ask you to compare the user interfaces of these applications. They are likely to have some differences in functionality, but we will ask you to concentrate on tasks that all three perform and the HCI aspects of those comparable tasks. For now, though, just find a partner, decide on an application category, and locate and install the software (or locate the web sites). You don't need to turn anything in for this part.

Combine all your answers into one electronic document and submit it via Checkmate. (The guidelines about hand-drawn illustrations also apply.)

Written by David G. Kay, Winter 2004.

David G. Kay, 406B Computer Science
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-3425 -- (949) 824-5072 -- Fax (949) 824-4056 -- Email

Thursday, February 5, 2004 -- 4:29 AM