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Title:Systems Interfaces Revisited
Author(s):Penniman, W. David
Subject(s):Human-computer interaction
User interfaces (Computer systems)
Abstract:Lord Kelvin once said, "When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind . . ." (Thompson, 1889, p. 73). This article reviews four measures that relate significantly to current concern with information systems and their users. Two of these four measures have been discussed by Hal Becker (1986) in a delightful article concerning the world's growing capacity to store and transmit data. In 490 B.C., the fastest way to send a message was through a human messenger running as fast and as far as he could. Often, he dropped dead upon completing the task (or was killed if the content of the message was displeasing). The data rate for that "system" was well under one word per minute (probably closer to 1/1 00th of a word per minute depending upon message length). Despite experiments with semaphore towers, carrier pigeons, and horseback riders, no really universal breakthrough came until the invention of telegraphy in the 1840s. With this technology, transmission rates achieved a level of about fifty words per minute. At present, we have reached transfer rates of one billion words per minute, and by the mid-1990s, the figure will exceed 100 trillion words per minute.
Issue Date:1988
Publisher:Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Citation Info:In M.A. Siegel, ed. 1988. Design and evaluation of computer/human interfaces : issues for librarians and information scientists. Papers presented at the 1988 Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing. Urbana, Il: Graduate School of Library and Information Science: 69-78.
Series/Report:Clinic on Library Applications of Data Processing (25th : 1988)
Genre:Conference Paper / Presentation
Type:Text
Language:English
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/1253
ISBN:0-87845-072-6
ISSN:0069-4789
Publication Status:published or submitted for publication
Rights Information:Copyright owned by Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1988.
Date Available in IDEALS:2007-07-10


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