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Abuse of Usage

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  • Larry Constantine
    Toward the end of a screed misrepresenting then attacking my views and methods, Michael Andrews, a blogger in New Zealand adds: I focus on Constantine s views
    Message 1 of 12 , Apr 4, 2006
      Toward the end of a screed misrepresenting then attacking my views and
      methods, Michael Andrews, a blogger in New Zealand adds:

      "I focus on Constantine's views in particular because for many people in the
      agile programming world, he is the face of usability. [Disclosure: I've
      never met Constantine or even know anyone who has. My criticisms of are the
      methods he advocates, not of him as a person.] Constantine is a major writer
      on the Yahoo agile usability list, a list more dominated by programmers than
      usability professionals. The people-free "usability solution" offered by
      usage centered design is no doubt appealing to some programmers. But if
      agile programmers are going to learn what usability is about, they need to
      get a representative presentation of usability, especially the importance of
      user testing."

      I doubt I am "the face of usability." As regulars on this forum know, I am
      actually only one occasional contributor to what is a broad and open
      community with diverse opinions. My posting here is to reiterate for the
      record so this community remains clear about what my opinions actually are.

      It is both unfair and incorrect to write that "Constantine fashions himself
      as a usability expert, but he dismisses what 99% of other usability experts
      consider the foundation of usability: usability testing." I do not dismiss
      it, nor am I a "critic of usability testing." I have questioned the
      over-reliance on testing, particularly when it is to the exclusion of better
      up-front design based on understanding of real user needs, and I have
      documented some of the little acknowledged downsides of usability testing,
      which might put me in a minority but does not make me wrong. Neither do I
      reject testing as "too expensive and inefficient."

      In a nutshell this has been and remains my position: Usability testing is
      always a good idea. The better your design is the less user testing will be
      needed to achieve a given degree of usability. Depending primarily on
      usability testing alone to find problems is more expensive and less
      efficient than combining it with other approaches, such as, collaborative
      usability inspections, which Andrew dismisses as "more people chatting while
      sitting around a conference table." (Those of you who have participated in
      one of our usability inspections know it is a highly structured review with
      assigned roles, formal definitions, and strict rules, one of which prohibits
      "chatting.")

      I suppose I should not take it too personally, since he misunderstands and
      slights agile methods and programmers too, but I do, particularly when he
      wrongly attacks and attributes to me individually the book co-authored with
      Lucy Lockwood. Yes, we did cite a lot of our own work, because at that time
      much of the most relevant work was ours, but then, too, we had far more
      citations to others. And, yes, we did not devote many pages to
      testing--because we were writing a book about DESIGN not testing. A check of
      any book about usability testing will reveal not a lot said about design.

      Which brings me to the subtext of my message. I contribute to this forum
      because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair, with diverse views and
      strong opinions, but without malice and minimal misrepresentation, a place
      where misunderstandings are quickly countered and corrected. Unfortunately,
      the blogosphere is something different.


      --Larry Constantine, IDSA
      Director, Lab-USE - The Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
      University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal
    • Desilets, Alain
      Which brings me to the subtext of my message. I contribute to this forum because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair, with diverse views and strong
      Message 2 of 12 , Apr 4, 2006
        Which brings me to the subtext of my message. I contribute to this forum
        because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair, with diverse views and
        strong opinions, but without malice and minimal misrepresentation, a
        place where misunderstandings are quickly countered and corrected.
        Unfortunately, the blogosphere is something different.

        -- Alain:
        We love you too Larry ;-). Keep popping here, you're always welcome.
        ----
      • Dave Churchville
        ... place ... Unfortunately, ... Someone once told me that if there aren t people who both love your work and hate it, you aren t making much of an impact.
        Message 3 of 12 , Apr 4, 2006
          --- In agile-usability@yahoogroups.com, "Larry Constantine"
          <lconstantine@...> wrote:
          > Which brings me to the subtext of my message. I contribute to this forum
          > because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair, with diverse views and
          > strong opinions, but without malice and minimal misrepresentation, a
          place
          > where misunderstandings are quickly countered and corrected.
          Unfortunately,
          > the blogosphere is something different.

          Someone once told me that if there aren't people who both love your
          work and hate it, you aren't making much of an impact.

          Truth is always a lightning rod for both positive and negative
          reactions, think of this as a compliment.

          Of course, inaccurate, offensive attacks on your work aren't fun, but
          on the bright side, this might actually boost your book sales ;-)

          Please keep doing what you're doing, I for one, find it both relevant
          and useful.

          --Dave

          David Churchville
          ExtremePlanner Software
          http://www.extremeplanner.com
        • Phlip
          ... Luxury. I used to hang awake at night, dreeeaming that a blogger somewhere would write a screed misrepresenting my views. -- Phlip
          Message 4 of 12 , Apr 4, 2006
            Larry Constantine wrote:

            > Toward the end of a screed misrepresenting then attacking my
            > views and
            > methods, Michael Andrews, a blogger in New Zealand adds:

            Luxury. I used to hang awake at night, dreeeaming that a blogger
            somewhere would write a screed misrepresenting my views.

            --
            Phlip
            http://www.greencheese.org/ZeekLand <-- NOT a blog!!
          • Rob Keefer
            Larry, When people spout off like this it reminds me of a point that Scott Adams (author of Dilbert) makes quite often on his blog: When people misrepresent
            Message 5 of 12 , Apr 4, 2006
              Larry,
               
              When people spout off like this it reminds me of a point that Scott Adams (author of Dilbert) makes quite often on his blog: "When people misrepresent the views of their opposition, and attack the misrepresentation, they lose all credibility with me." (see http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2005/11/intelligent_des_1.html)

              Unfortunately, you are not an "entertainer" as Scott Adams is, and haven't said things just to provoke people who like to misrepresent your views. However, as has already been pointed out, you are fortunate enough to have written something that provoked someone enough to misrepresent you, and for that you should be glad.
               
              - Rob
               

              ----- Original Message ----
              From: Larry Constantine <lconstantine@...>
              To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Tuesday, April 4, 2006 1:02:17 PM
              Subject: [agile-usability] Abuse of Usage

              Toward the end of a screed misrepresenting then attacking my views and
              methods, Michael Andrews, a blogger in New Zealand adds:

              "I focus on Constantine's views in particular because for many people in the
              agile programming world, he is the face of usability. [Disclosure: I've
              never met Constantine or even know anyone who has. My criticisms of are the
              methods he advocates, not of him as a person.] Constantine is a major writer
              on the Yahoo agile usability list, a list more dominated by programmers than
              usability professionals. The people-free "usability solution" offered by
              usage centered design is no doubt appealing to some programmers. But if
              agile programmers are going to learn what usability is about, they need to
              get a representative presentation of usability, especially the importance of
              user testing."

              I doubt I am "the face of usability." As regulars on this forum know, I am
              actually only one occasional contributor to what is a broad and open
              community with diverse opinions. My posting here is to reiterate for the
              record so this community remains clear about what my opinions actually are.

              It is both unfair and incorrect to write that "Constantine fashions himself
              as a usability expert, but he dismisses what 99% of other usability experts
              consider the foundation of usability: usability testing." I do not dismiss
              it, nor am I a "critic of usability testing." I have questioned the
              over-reliance on testing, particularly when it is to the exclusion of better
              up-front design based on understanding of real user needs, and I have
              documented some of the little acknowledged downsides of usability testing,
              which might put me in a minority but does not make me wrong. Neither do I
              reject testing as "too expensive and inefficient."

              In a nutshell this has been and remains my position: Usability testing is
              always a good idea. The better your design is the less user testing will be
              needed to achieve a given degree of usability. Depending primarily on
              usability testing alone to find problems is more expensive and less
              efficient than combining it with other approaches, such as, collaborative
              usability inspections, which Andrew dismisses as "more people chatting while
              sitting around a conference table." (Those of you who have participated in
              one of our usability inspections know it is a highly structured review with
              assigned roles, formal definitions, and strict rules, one of which prohibits
              "chatting.")

              I suppose I should not take it too personally, since he misunderstands and
              slights agile methods and programmers too, but I do, particularly when he
              wrongly attacks and attributes to me individually the book co-authored with
              Lucy Lockwood. Yes, we did cite a lot of our own work, because at that time
              much of the most relevant work was ours, but then, too, we had far more
              citations to others. And, yes, we did not devote many pages to
              testing--because we were writing a book about DESIGN not testing. A check of
              any book about usability testing will reveal not a lot said about design.

              Which brings me to the subtext of my message. I contribute to this forum
              because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair, with diverse views and
              strong opinions, but without malice and minimal misrepresentation, a place
              where misunderstandings are quickly countered and corrected. Unfortunately,
              the blogosphere is something different. 


              --Larry Constantine, IDSA
                Director, Lab-USE - The Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
                University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal

            • Phlip
              ... There are blog entries out there that accuse Dilbert of being a tool of the Man - of encouraging complancency. Gotta love that bloggosphere! -- Phlip
              Message 6 of 12 , Apr 4, 2006
                Rob Keefer wrote:

                > When people spout off like this it reminds me of
                > a point that Scott Adams (author of Dilbert) makes
                > quite often on his blog

                There are blog entries out there that accuse Dilbert of being a tool
                of the Man - of encouraging complancency.

                Gotta love that bloggosphere!

                --
                Phlip
                http://www.greencheese.org/ZeekLand <-- NOT a blog!!
              • Jared M. Spool
                ... I wonder which body part I am? Jared Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering 4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949 978
                Message 7 of 12 , Apr 5, 2006
                  At 01:02 PM 4/4/2006, you wrote:
                  >I doubt I am "the face of usability."

                  I wonder which body part I am?

                  Jared


                  Jared M. Spool, Founding Principal, User Interface Engineering
                  4 Lookout Lane, Unit 4d, Middleton, MA 01949
                  978 777-9123 jspool@... http://www.uie.com
                  Blog: http://www.uie.com/brainsparks
                • Tim Wright
                  On behalf of the Wellingtonians in New Zealand (where Mike is based) who have met you and do understand Usage-Centered Design (I taught it at the University in
                  Message 8 of 12 , Apr 6, 2006
                    On behalf of the Wellingtonians in New Zealand (where Mike is based) who have met you and do understand Usage-Centered Design (I taught it at the University in Wellington for a couple of years), sorry. Some of us do understand Usage-Centered Design and think it is fantastic.

                    I am still a *big* advocate of user-testing, especially in organisations who are unwilling to change their design process - I have found that in my current organisation (large government department) it is the politics of process ownership that get in the way of any consistent methodology. Perhaps I'll write a paper about this one day.

                    Dr Tim Wright


                    On 4/5/06, Larry Constantine <lconstantine@...> wrote:
                    Toward the end of a screed misrepresenting then attacking my views and
                    methods, Michael Andrews, a blogger in New Zealand adds:

                    "I focus on Constantine's views in particular because for many people in the
                    agile programming world, he is the face of usability. [Disclosure: I've
                    never met Constantine or even know anyone who has. My criticisms of are the
                    methods he advocates, not of him as a person.] Constantine is a major writer
                    on the Yahoo agile usability list, a list more dominated by programmers than
                    usability professionals. The people-free "usability solution" offered by
                    usage centered design is no doubt appealing to some programmers. But if
                    agile programmers are going to learn what usability is about, they need to
                    get a representative presentation of usability, especially the importance of
                    user testing."

                    I doubt I am "the face of usability." As regulars on this forum know, I am
                    actually only one occasional contributor to what is a broad and open
                    community with diverse opinions. My posting here is to reiterate for the
                    record so this community remains clear about what my opinions actually are.

                    It is both unfair and incorrect to write that "Constantine fashions himself
                    as a usability expert, but he dismisses what 99% of other usability experts
                    consider the foundation of usability: usability testing." I do not dismiss
                    it, nor am I a "critic of usability testing." I have questioned the
                    over-reliance on testing, particularly when it is to the exclusion of better
                    up-front design based on understanding of real user needs, and I have
                    documented some of the little acknowledged downsides of usability testing,
                    which might put me in a minority but does not make me wrong. Neither do I
                    reject testing as "too expensive and inefficient."

                    In a nutshell this has been and remains my position: Usability testing is
                    always a good idea. The better your design is the less user testing will be
                    needed to achieve a given degree of usability. Depending primarily on
                    usability testing alone to find problems is more expensive and less
                    efficient than combining it with other approaches, such as, collaborative
                    usability inspections, which Andrew dismisses as "more people chatting while
                    sitting around a conference table." (Those of you who have participated in
                    one of our usability inspections know it is a highly structured review with
                    assigned roles, formal definitions, and strict rules, one of which prohibits
                    "chatting.")

                    I suppose I should not take it too personally, since he misunderstands and
                    slights agile methods and programmers too, but I do, particularly when he
                    wrongly attacks and attributes to me individually the book co-authored with
                    Lucy Lockwood. Yes, we did cite a lot of our own work, because at that time
                    much of the most relevant work was ours, but then, too, we had far more
                    citations to others. And, yes, we did not devote many pages to
                    testing--because we were writing a book about DESIGN not testing. A check of
                    any book about usability testing will reveal not a lot said about design.

                    Which brings me to the subtext of my message. I contribute to this forum
                    because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair, with diverse views and
                    strong opinions, but without malice and minimal misrepresentation, a place
                    where misunderstandings are quickly countered and corrected. Unfortunately,
                    the blogosphere is something different. 


                    --Larry Constantine, IDSA
                      Director, Lab-USE - The Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
                      University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal



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                    --
                    Kei te kōrero tiki au. Kei te kōrero tiki koe. Ka kōrero tiki tāua. Kōrero ai tiki tāua.
                  • William Pietri
                    Hi, Larry. ... I haven t seen his blog, but I wouldn t sweat it. My impression of your views is basically what you state. And as the guy who may be
                    Message 9 of 12 , Apr 6, 2006
                      Hi, Larry.

                      Larry Constantine wrote:
                      > Toward the end of a screed misrepresenting then attacking my views and
                      > methods, Michael Andrews, a blogger in New Zealand [...]
                      >
                      > In a nutshell this has been and remains my position: Usability testing is
                      > always a good idea. The better your design is the less user testing will be
                      > needed to achieve a given degree of usability. [...]
                      >
                      > I suppose I should not take it too personally [...] I contribute to this forum
                      > because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair [...] Unfortunately,
                      > the blogosphere is something different.

                      I haven't seen his blog, but I wouldn't sweat it. My impression of your
                      views is basically what you state. And as the guy who may be
                      single-handedly responsible for the apparent overrepresentation of
                      developers here, hopefully I'm a good proxy for the view of an outsider,
                      somebody who's interest in usability is pragmatic rather than a chosen
                      career.

                      As you say, the different media can suit different purposes. Given that
                      the fellow has posted here exactly once, it's hard for me to take him
                      particularly seriously. If he had wanted to understand, he could have
                      asked questions or started a discussion. I gather his purpose was
                      instead to rant. When dogs howl at the moon, it's never clear to me how
                      much the moon is the problem.

                      William
                    • Larry Constantine
                      Thanks for the support over the years, Tim. I actually know Wellington well as a repository of smart people who get it and don t go around misrepresenting
                      Message 10 of 12 , Apr 7, 2006
                        Thanks for the support over the years, Tim. I actually know Wellington well
                        as a repository of smart people who "get it" and don't go around
                        misrepresenting things.

                        Tim wrote:
                        =====
                        I am still a *big* advocate of user-testing, especially in organisations who
                        are unwilling to change their design process - I have found that in my
                        current organisation (large government department) it is the politics of
                        process ownership that get in the way of any consistent methodology. Perhaps
                        I'll write a paper about this one day.
                        =====

                        Very good point. Do write that paper--maybe sooner than someday. If a group
                        does nothing else, they should at least do user testing. Ironically, I
                        frequently find myself the strong advocate of testing with organizations
                        that are unwilling to budget for it. I may be a great designer, but it gives
                        me the willies to think of software being released without at least
                        selective user testing.

                        --Larry Constantine, IDSA
                        Director, Lab-USE - The Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
                        Professor, Department of Mathematics and Engineering
                        University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal
                        Chief Scientist | Constantine & Lockwood Ltd | www.foruse.com
                        58 Kathleen Circle | Rowley, MA 01969
                        t: +1 978.948.5012 | f: +1 978.948.5036


                        ________________________________________
                        From: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                        [mailto:agile-usability@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Tim Wright
                        Sent: Thursday, April 06, 2006 1:13 PM
                        To: agile-usability@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [agile-usability] Abuse of Usage


                        On behalf of the Wellingtonians in New Zealand (where Mike is based) who
                        have met you and do understand Usage-Centered Design (I taught it at the
                        University in Wellington for a couple of years), sorry. Some of us do
                        understand Usage-Centered Design and think it is fantastic.

                        I am still a *big* advocate of user-testing, especially in organisations who
                        are unwilling to change their design process - I have found that in my
                        current organisation (large government department) it is the politics of
                        process ownership that get in the way of any consistent methodology. Perhaps
                        I'll write a paper about this one day.

                        Dr Tim Wright

                        On 4/5/06, Larry Constantine <lconstantine@...> wrote:
                        Toward the end of a screed misrepresenting then attacking my views and
                        methods, Michael Andrews, a blogger in New Zealand adds:

                        "I focus on Constantine's views in particular because for many people in the
                        agile programming world, he is the face of usability. [Disclosure: I've
                        never met Constantine or even know anyone who has. My criticisms of are the
                        methods he advocates, not of him as a person.] Constantine is a major writer
                        on the Yahoo agile usability list, a list more dominated by programmers than
                        usability professionals. The people-free "usability solution" offered by
                        usage centered design is no doubt appealing to some programmers. But if
                        agile programmers are going to learn what usability is about, they need to
                        get a representative presentation of usability, especially the importance of
                        user testing."

                        I doubt I am "the face of usability." As regulars on this forum know, I am
                        actually only one occasional contributor to what is a broad and open
                        community with diverse opinions. My posting here is to reiterate for the
                        record so this community remains clear about what my opinions actually are.

                        It is both unfair and incorrect to write that "Constantine fashions himself
                        as a usability expert, but he dismisses what 99% of other usability experts
                        consider the foundation of usability: usability testing." I do not dismiss
                        it, nor am I a "critic of usability testing." I have questioned the
                        over-reliance on testing, particularly when it is to the exclusion of better
                        up-front design based on understanding of real user needs, and I have
                        documented some of the little acknowledged downsides of usability testing,
                        which might put me in a minority but does not make me wrong. Neither do I
                        reject testing as "too expensive and inefficient."

                        In a nutshell this has been and remains my position: Usability testing is
                        always a good idea. The better your design is the less user testing will be
                        needed to achieve a given degree of usability. Depending primarily on
                        usability testing alone to find problems is more expensive and less
                        efficient than combining it with other approaches, such as, collaborative
                        usability inspections, which Andrew dismisses as "more people chatting while
                        sitting around a conference table." (Those of you who have participated in
                        one of our usability inspections know it is a highly structured review with
                        assigned roles, formal definitions, and strict rules, one of which prohibits
                        "chatting.")

                        I suppose I should not take it too personally, since he misunderstands and
                        slights agile methods and programmers too, but I do, particularly when he
                        wrongly attacks and attributes to me individually the book co-authored with
                        Lucy Lockwood. Yes, we did cite a lot of our own work, because at that time
                        much of the most relevant work was ours, but then, too, we had far more
                        citations to others. And, yes, we did not devote many pages to
                        testing--because we were writing a book about DESIGN not testing. A check of
                        any book about usability testing will reveal not a lot said about design.

                        Which brings me to the subtext of my message. I contribute to this forum
                        because it is a genuine dialogue, open and fair, with diverse views and
                        strong opinions, but without malice and minimal misrepresentation, a place
                        where misunderstandings are quickly countered and corrected. Unfortunately,
                        the blogosphere is something different. 


                        --Larry Constantine, IDSA
                          Director, Lab-USE - The Laboratory for Usage-centered Software Engineering
                          University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal

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