human factors issues, not just those of complex human-machine systems (see also Dainoff and Mark application, 1995, of Rasmussen's abstraction hierarchy to the ergonomic design of workplaces). It is also worthwhile noting that human-computer interaction researchers involved with designing interfaces for office systems are also beginning to realize the advantages of the ecological approach ( Gaver, 1991). A glance at the wide range of topics addressed by the various contributors to this volume reinforces the notion that the ecological approach to human factors has a very wide scope of applicability.
Only the future will tell how much of an influence an ecological approach will have on human factors as a discipline. This chapter has tried to outline some of the reasons why the path is worthwhile pursuing. The initial indications are that adopting an ecological approach to human factors can lead to the development of theories, methods, and empirical work which builds on the efforts produced by more traditional approaches and thereby broadens the scope of the science of human factors.
I would like to thank John Flach, Peter Hancock, Kelly Harwood, Alex Kirlik, and Jens Rasmussen for many enlightening discussions and comments on the ideas presented in this chapter. This chapter has been adapted with permission from Human Factors Society Bulletin, Vol. 33, No. 11, 1990. Copyright © 1990 by The Human Factors Society, Inc. All rights reserved.
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