Errors, mistakes and slips

I was reading the paper by Lokton et al. “Making the user more efficient: Design for sustainable behaviour” and I have my objections to make. Lokton follows a very Normanesque approach, based on affordances and scripts which in a few words are meant to prescribe the use of the artifact to the user. Lokton refers to the Errors (again by Norman), which can be divided into mistakes and slips. The first are a priori inappropriate or incorrect, incomplete models (e.g putting the thermostat higher to get warmer, faster) and the latter refers in cases when the intention is correct but the action was performed incorrectly. Lokton, as Norman, Jelsma and more, believe that affordances and scripts can alleviate the error and lead to a streamlined operation, without any “inefficiencies” in the system. 

My objection to the whole idea is that by embracing the whole idea of scripts and affordances, designers start to perceive the user as an error in the system and not as a human anymore. The approach reminds me a lot of my previous studies as a production engineer, where with stochastic procedures I had to predict when a machine will break-down and design the system in a way where errors will have the minimum impact in the production. However, humans are not machines, to design in this way.

By scripting for more “efficient” behaviour, the designer alienates even more the user from the system making him even less aware about how things works, and even dumper and dumper. For the Christ sake, lets know how a f#$%g thermostat works and that it is just a switch and not a valve!


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