Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Emotional Design: why we love (or hate) everyday things

by Donald A. Norman

As a self-professed design geek, I had high hopes for this book. Sadly, I was disappointed. The writing isn't great, the ideas seem over-simplified, and the many generalizations aren't given enough supporting evidence or details. The basic concept behind the book is pretty well summed up in the title, and in some ways it's similar to The Architecture of Happiness — an unfortunate comparison, since the latter is so much more lyrical and moving, making this book seem even more bland. At times it reads like a textbook, but at the same time it comes across as really unscientific in the way it drops all these unsupported assumptions on the reader. (Even when something seems obvious, academic standards require some minimal justification, or at the very least stating that something is to be taken for granted.) I started skimming toward the end of the first chapter, and after picking through the second chapter I didn't even finish and just gave up.

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