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Reviewed in the United States on September 18, 2002
I liked The Psychology of Everyday Things so much that I picked this latest volume of Norman's up when I saw it in the store. Unlike POET, which was one long thesis on psychology and design, Turn Signals is a collection of essays on those topics. As such, it lacks the coherence of POET, but gains emphasis by focusing on specific topics covered only slightly in POET. First off, Norman relates how the title for POET has been changed to The Design of Everyday Things, because of a misconception in what the book was about and who the book was for, exactly the kind of common mistake that he was attempting to expose in the book. Then he moves on to topics like the design of airplane cockpits, the use of book jackets in libraries, using the refrigerator door as a message center, the electronic personal assistant, as well as the title essay on clues that we receive from other people versus clues we receive from machines. I like Norman, and his topic, and will be on the lookout for his other book, Things that Make Us Smart.
Professor Norman is one heck of a writer. I almost forgot to go to bed one night due to voraciously reading this book. Only the running out of the four candles that gave me light to read on the unelectrified summer cottage alerted me to the fact that it was well past two o'clock in the morning and it would be advisable to catch some shuteye. And TSAFEA is not Donald A. Norman's best book by far. Actually this book has been edited from essays and common sense columns written by Professor Norman and most of the issues are already familiar from the Psychology of Everyday Things and Things That Make Us Smart. Nevertheless I will be more than happy to recommend this book for my software designer friends in the future. The most interesting chapters discuss social characteristics of machines and how a machine and its user, for example a car and its driver, form a (social) unit.