Making the World Wide Web Fit People:
    Traveling in Comfort on the Information Superhighway

Polle Zellweger, MacZell Consulting

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University October 17, 2003

The World Wide Web represents significant progress toward Douglas Englebart's vision of augmented human intellect from the 1960's. People can now accomplish a wide range of information tasks online, ranging from searching and browsing to reading, annotating, collecting, organizing, and authoring. Unfortunately, current information tools are often clumsy, making information tasks unnecessarily laborious and reducing the quality of their results.

To fully realize the promise of the Information Revolution, information tools should fit people well.
They should be useful, fitting smoothly into people's work practices. They should be easy to use, streamlining tasks and reducing interruptions, and they should be comfortable, matching and exploiting human capabilities.

This talk presents examples of information tool design that illustrate the value of a central focus on these three elements of good fit. These examples also provide a direction for further research and development of this kind, aimed at making our 'information surround' a useful, easy, and comfortable place for people to live, work, and play.

Polle Zellweger received her PhD in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley, focusing on interactive source-level debugging for optimized programs. She was a member of the research staff at Xerox PARC from 1984 to 2001, where she explored topics that included hypertext, multimedia, electronic books, user interfaces and collaborative work. In 2000-2001, she was a visiting professor at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. She has served on the editorial board of the ACM Transactions on Information Systems and as program chair of the ACM Multimedia95 Conference. She is known for her work on hypertext paths, active multimedia documents, automatic temporal formatting, and Fluid Documents.


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