Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes In The Age Of The Machine

Donald Norman

Basic Books, 1994

Agent: Sandra Dijkstra

In Things That Make Us Smart, Donald A. Norman explores the complex interaction between human thought and the technology it creates, arguing for the development of machines that fit our minds, rather than minds that must conform to the machine.Humans have always worked with objects to extend our cognitive powers, from counting on our fingers to designing massive supercomputers. But advanced technology does more than merely assist with thought and memory—the machines we create begin to shape how we think and, at times, even what we value. Norman, in exploring this complex relationship between humans and machines, gives us the first steps towards demanding a person-centered redesign of the machines that surround our lives.


"A thoughtful critique of ‘machine-centered’ corporate technology from the author of The Design of Everyday Things."
Publisher’s Weekly

"In this highly readable book, Norman, author of Turn Signals Are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles, offers an intriguing look at the nature and characteristics of human intelligence…Entertaining anecdotes, puzzles, graphics, and speculations regarding future possibilities flesh out this wise and witty book. Recommended for academic and public libraries."
Library Journal


"Norman expands on his previous offerings—and his current text, though more thoughtful, is just as user-friendly as his earlier works...Norman's presentation is eminently accessible, with incidental insights into such matters as primitive office procedures, and why, for addition and subtraction, Roman numeration is superior to Arabic…Lots of things make us smart, Norman points out. His book could be one of them."
Kirkus Reviews