Map: 'quality.GIF'

Quality of Work and Product

"The catchwords were quality of work and product, and by that we emphasized that the quality of the product was an interest of the producers and an interest of the trade unions and also that a just as important goal was the quality of work, the work organization, the skills of the workers and that there was a connection between the two. So, the technology that should be produced should be skill enhancing tools rather than deskilling automation."

Pelle Ehn, Computer Scientist, during the Utopia project at The Centre for Working Life.

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With the technology of 1983/85 it was possible to envision good work tools, making it possible to maintain and develop quality in work and product.

Quality of work tools
Techniques for programming good tools
Good tools could be programmed by using methods such as dividing the display screen into a convenient number of mobile windows; displaying sufficient and relevant information on what the computer is doing or can be made to do; designing menus and commands for choice of tools or adjustment of tools in a natural way, and giving the users possibility to make new combined operations ("macros") of series of often performed operations.
Ideally: a transparent system
Ideally the system should be so "transparent" that it is possible, after a training period, to concentrate on what should be done, rather than on how to get the machine to do it, similar to the experienced driver who can easily concentrate on the traffic without having to think about the instruments with which she manoeuvres the car. It is important that the computer based tools are connected to traditional skills so that major aspects of this knowledge do not disappear. Designed for qualified, skilled graphic workers these computer based tools should facilitate and encourage the graphic workers to fully use their creative abilities.

A workplace for quality products
Graphic workstation
A powerful graphic workstation where the skilled worker, employing expedient interaction tools, can manipulate continually displayed images, and form and place material in such a manner that the display very closely approximates the appearance of the final printed product.
The skilled worker, who is well-trained in the use of the equipment, also has a knowledge of and responsibility for maintenance, as well as for less complicated error detection and error correction routines.
Screen and laser writer
The display screen is still too small to show a whole page with all the details in natural size. To get a comprehensive view of the page it should be possible to show the whole page on a smaller scale; and to be able to inspect details, it should be possible to show sections of the page on a larger scale. Paper copies (on the laser printer) are still necessary for discussions concerning typography and appearance, both within the working team (make-up and editorial staff), as well as with advertisers.
Final check and plate making
When the page is completed, it is printed out on paper (or phototypeset) for a final check, after which the printing plate is produced by laser.
Natural concern for high quality
With this technology and with expedient training, more democratic work organization, featuring autonomous groups of skilled workers with a high concern for quality, will become natural.
The human-computer interface is crucial
A definite result from this user study and from Utopia was the observation that the design of the human-computer interface is crucial for quality in computerized tools for image processing and page make-up work as well as in many other kinds of creative work, cf Human-Computer Interaction in Technology for Graphic Production.

Latest update by Axel Henriksson 96-04-16