Ergonomics at the workplace, especially the computer-centric workplace, used to be quite a hot topic. At times, it seems like the most ergonomic positions are simultaneously the most awkward. Have you ever been told a cure for the hiccups? All of them feel like cruel jokes to see what circus stunts you?ll perform to rid you *hic* rself *hic* of your *hic* ups.
“Stand on your head.”
“Hold your breath.”
“Drink from the other side of the cup.” (This actually works for me every time)
“Pinch your nose, dance on one foot and let me scare you.”
Often, ergonomics feels like hiccup cures. Perhaps that’s the reason many people in usability and interaction design seem to ignore the science. We understand a fundamental principle of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI): even good software can fail without a usable interface. Similarly, one can apply a corollary: no matter how usable an interface is, a user in pain won’t enjoy using it.
Despite the fact that many of HCI’s roots stem from ergonomics, many professionals seem to have placed its significance on the sidelines…
I have really bad posture — pretty much since the Apple IIe. Thus, over the years I’ve tried to remedy the problem with fancy configurations and chairs (including the one in panel 2), and nothing works. The problem is that I want to move, but ergonomic setups give me the sense that I shouldn’t. As soon as I do move, I’m on the slippery slope that will end with my shoulder blades nestled against the lumbar support.
I think a large portion of the problem lies in the hardware. We need to invent ways to sit still because our computers sit still. And while laptops bring us a little ways toward goodness, they still have eyestraining screens, and when you use them you still essentially sit still. The other difficulty is that the physical spaces, the established history, and the social norms of work all point to sitting at a desk all day as being *the* way that work should be done. So it’s a tough one. To fix these problems we’ll need to employ a tried and true method called “just make stuff up”.
Let’s brainstorm on how to change the workplace to eliminate the “sitting in one spot for 7 hours a day” problem…
As it seems to be trendy for columnists to invent words and phrases, I couldn’t help jumping on the bandwagon. I know this word seems to have been used elsewhere via a quick Google but I will define it here.
Explosure (ik-splo’zh’r) n.
- The act or instance of sudden and unexpected large scale appearance to public image, especially in media.
- Getting linked by a lot of thoughtful bloggers and columnists, including Jakob Nielsen, Joel Spolsky, Usability News, Matt Jones, Joshua Kaufman and so many others from countries including UK, USA, Brazil, Israel and Spain.
Thanks to everyone for all explosure. We didn’t expect this sort of attention and certainly not this quickly. We are working to incrementally improve this site and welcome suggestions for comic ideas, topics, and of course, user feedback!
Focus groups are fascinating tools. Everybody seems to have a use for them: marketing, usability, visual designers, business analysts, etc. In theory, they bring together a group of potential users and create a dynamic environment from which one could solicit requirements, work context, user preferences and maybe even the answer to religion.
In practice, focus groups tend to be less than ideal. Observe our little focus group in what could be described as figure 1 but is better described as “this week’s comic”: