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Re: Measuring usability

From: Phillip Lord <phillip.lord@newcastle.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2007 14:46:46 +0000
To: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk>
Cc: public-owl-dev@w3.org
Message-ID: <uk5znqbah.fsf@newcastle.ac.uk>

>>>>> "BP" == Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.man.ac.uk> writes:

  BP> On 15 Jan 2007, at 11:44, Phillip Lord wrote: [snip]
  JH> if the WG wants my opinion, they should remove that topic from
  JH> the scope - but if that's not viaable, then expect that there
  JH> will be those of us who insist that the WG pay attention to
  JH> things that are not "measurable" and require us trusting
  JH> people's instincts and experiences, which makes many formalists
  JH> very nervous.
  >> Usability is just as measurable as tractability, I would say.

  BP> I agree that Uli overstated the case a bit, but I think this
  BP> overstates things the other way.

  BP> Usability is more *difficult* to measure than worst case
  BP> complexity because it is highly multidimensional, and typically
  BP> requires experiments. Usability is sensitive to, among many
  BP> other things: task, user, and support environment (tools, books,
  BP> accessible gurus).  Even when one has good data it can be
  BP> difficult to interpret and even more difficult to generalize.

Well, I tend to think of "measurability" as being an boolean value. My
point was that you can measure usability, as you can anything
else. Might be hard, but it is doable.

  BP> BTW, I don't think any "theorists", at least, any one involved
  BP> in these debates, conflate worse case complexity with
  BP> effectively implementability.

I wasn't trying to imply that they did. My point was that measuring
usability is often ad hoc, non-generalisable. But, then, so does
tractability, or effective implementability, or how fast it goes. 

  >> There are a number of ways in which usability could be tested. We
  >> could gather up a set of curated ontologies and find out which
  >> constructs are used most often; naive users could be surveyed
  >> with descriptions of the constructs and questions about the
  >> implications, to see which attract most frequent confusion.

  BP> Data like this is often useful (though I'm not sure that
  BP> focusing on naive users, for example, is the best choice; how
  BP> naive is naive? for some classes of users you want to avoid the
  BP> notion of "constructs" altogether and teachability is only one
  BP> aspect of usability).

Yes, I'd agree. 

  >> As for making formalists nervous, hey, well, somethings you just
  >> have to live with. They can take beta-blockers or something.

  BP> I don't see that this sort of language is helpful, esp. as its
  BP> entirely gratuitous. 



Received on Tuesday, 16 January 2007 14:47:25 UTC

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