Gena ... thanks for the interesting post, I do a lot of work in usability and human-computer interaction research and am quite familiar with Jakob Nielson, so thanks for the opportuntity to allow me to pontificate in a boring academic manner :) ...

First of all, although Jakob Nielson has done a lot to promote usability, his claims have always been suspect with me. In fact, when I saw this Alert Box referred to in this thread I thought about posting it to the list too, but then figured that, based on what I know about Jakob Nielson's work, I figured that people may take it too seriously.

So what I would emphasize in interpreting anything Jakob Nielson says is to take it with a grain of salt ... he states things as hard and fast facts, based on research, when, in fact I would call them more like educated opionions ... for example, let's take this one

1) Rarely does any eye tracking research indicate that anyone stares at anything for a long period of time ... are eyes are not really "designed" that way
2) The data he shows you in his example is a sample size of 1 ... this is not the summation of a lot of eye tracking data, nor does it give any indication of the degree of error associated with all of the different participants
3) Most importantly, his criterion (operational definition) for "boring" was eyes moving throughout the page, but I think there's a pretty big distance between this operation and this construct ... seems like the better thing would have been time-on-task or self-report of "boringness"
4) Maybe even more important, he makes this giant claim about comparing TV to the web, and how these data indicate that talking head video on the web is boring as compared to TV, but I don't see any data about eye tracking data associated with watching TV ... do people who watch TV just stare at the face and not let their eyes wander? even if they do, would the wondering be associated with the fact that a TV just has a face, but no other stuff on the screen?

... the other intersting thing to me is that the "active - web" and "passive - TV" thing is going to blur more and more as the two devices television and computer monitor/keyboard start to merge and the web becomes a part of all these devices

... Perhaps what he concludes is true, but it is certainly my view that he does not provide us with any reasonably emperical test to support it and, in fact, if a real experiment was conducted to try and examine the relationship between video characteristics and "boredom", I would imagine you would find that there are some other major variables that would mediate this to a larger extent, for example, nature of the content, expressiviness of the talking head (there's a lot that a face can add to a voice, as we all know from watching someone speaking) ... and of course, there's a whole host of issues having to do with the context in which someone is watching the video (I would put rocketboom with a talking head up against most "action videos", including my own, and I'm thinking the action would tend to be more boring - but that's an opinion, not based on any research)

... well, that whole discussion demonstrates that

a) I must be a college professor, who teaches  stuff like research design, or how could I possibly write stuff so boring
b) As Sam Rayburn said "any damn mule can kick down a barn, but it takes something to build one" (it's a lot easier to criticize research than do it)
c) I'm obviously jealous that I don't have a web news letter on usability that attracts a zillion readers per news letter

... Richard

On 12/4/05, Gena <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
Hi all, Not really suppose to be doing this - finishing up on my class
presentation (down to my last three paragraphs) but I came across an
interesting page on

Jakob Nielson is well known in the web design community.  He did an
study on where viewers eyes travel on computers screen watching video.

He questions if broadcast video ported to the web is a good idea. I'll
let you read the article for yourself but I think he makes excellent
points. Many of them in our favor.



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