Are ‘Human Factors’ Human Revisited

Comment from Ken Eason on the paper

‘This paper is a contribution to the 60th birthday celebrations for Niel’s Bjorn Andersen to recognise his many contributions to the development of information systems. In 1984 Niel’s wrote a paper called ‘Are ‘Human Factors’ Human?’ in which he challenged the human factors community, then helping to develop different forms of human-computer interaction, to be more humanistic in their approach and to take a more holistic view of people in systems. This paper reflects on developments in human factors since 1984 in the light of Niel’s challenges. It traces the history of research and design practice since 1984 and, although there are signs of a broader based approach to human beings in systems, it concludes that much of the work is still about specific issues, for example, the recognition of icons,. Major progress has been made in the way users participate in design work and on methodologies for usability and accessability evaluation. However, much less progress has been made in changing overall design processes from technical procedures where human and organisational issues are dealt with, if at all, at the implementation stage. The objective of sociotechnical sysems design. which takes a humanistic view of the people in the system, becoming mainstream practice is still a long way off.’


EASON K.D. Are ‘Human Factors’ Human Revisited In Andersen K.V. and Thanning Vendelo M. (eds) The Past and Future of Information Systems, Oxford, Butterworth-Heinemann, pp123-136