Very nearly a five star review for this one, and I'd say that if you haven't read any of the stories on the brilliant folklore.org, you should add a sVery nearly a five star review for this one, and I'd say that if you haven't read any of the stories on the brilliant folklore.org, you should add a star. I was depressed to discover while reading this book that I'd made my way through more of folklore.org than I'd thought while casually browsing - a visit over there is as bad as a night-long Wikipedia or TVTropes trawl for me - and as a result I'd read perhaps 90% of the material in the book. The fact that I enjoyed the book as much as I did is a testament to the quality and subject matter of the stories.
Revolution can be a frustrating read due to its anecdotal nature - these are snippets of recollections bundled together into roughly grouped time frames, and as a result the book can feel disjointed. There are times during which the superior notion of hypertext is readily apparent - nearly every story contains a reference to other stories and images on the site, which is part of what makes folklore.org so addictive - and yet that weakness is also the book's strength, feeling less like an edited and cohesive story and more like sitting with a group of friends who are recalling the most interesting stories from a singular time in their lives. Without the pressure to fill in details about less interesting but historically important points in the Macintosh's development, every anecdote is relevant, interesting, and almost without exception humorous.
If you've read Kidder's Soul of a New Machine (and if you haven't, go away and read that first) and have been looking for another book that invokes the same spirit, you've found it....more
I wanted to love this book. I very nearly loved this book. Unfortunately, I read "The Phoenix Project" first.
I keep flipping between 3 and 4 stars forI wanted to love this book. I very nearly loved this book. Unfortunately, I read "The Phoenix Project" first.
I keep flipping between 3 and 4 stars for this. The book deserves 5 for its place in business history, and I flip to 4 for it because it will communicate on a general-purpose level far better than a book like "Phoenix."
But having been around people who understood about bottlenecks and the Theory of Constraints (if you don't know what those are, put down this review and go read the book) for some time, the book seems less revelatory to me. It's impossible to state what the impact of this would have been on mid-80's American manufacturers, let alone what its impact should be on our industry. The book essentially introduces the reader to TOC and many of the practices that were later encoded in the fabric of the lean and agile movements through a Socratic dialogue - posing a series of challenges to its characters and then asking them (and you, the reader) to extrapolate from past lessons and determine the next appropriate course of action just ahead of the characters.
If you're in IT, "Phoenix" will speak more clearly to your situation and will translate more directly to your work and world. Read "The Goal" afterwards to gain a deeper/fuller understanding of the Theory of Constraints - some of the explanations and the translation of WIP to inventory will help you visualize practices you struggle to describe daily.
If you're not in IT, just read it - it's a breezy, light book, and is written to slightly below the level of an airplane novel. There are some really gendered and racially-insensitive notes that are likely injected to reflect the book's imagined audience, a factory foreman. This dates the novel somewhat, but the struggles the characters are facing - both interpersonal and work-related - continue to hit home, and overall the book executes its core mission competently. ...more
It's very difficult for me to give this book anything less than five stars, because the subject matter is sublime. Norman delves into the nature of deIt's very difficult for me to give this book anything less than five stars, because the subject matter is sublime. Norman delves into the nature of design by first addressing how we as humans take in and process information. By examining how it is that we learn and recall information, he is able to dissect why seemingly simple designs are counterintuitive, and why what we classify as "human error" is really attributable to poorly-designed interfaces that do not map reality (or our understanding of it) to the underlying system.
Norman is very sure of his point, and has many years' experience researching and learning about it. Somewhere, however, the material begins to become pedantic. The examples and illustrations are all fine, but I can't help but feel that some of them are entirely redundant. By the time he's apologizing for "someone must have won an award for it" (based on the premise found throughout the book that award-winning designs seem to be the least accessible and user-friendly) and talking about his frustration with the installation of his living room lights, I felt I'd had enough. We'd already been through how Norman reorganized the lights in his lab - a valuable example - and we didn't need a second or third.
Nonetheless, the book is short enough and its content strong enough to merit a read. Most of the meat is in the first half, but he draws strong conclusions and recommends a litmus test for designers with which to determine whether or not their work is likely to be usable.
Overall, a recommendation with caveats on this one....more