Cognition, Technology & Work

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 205–217 | Cite as

Historical perception as a complementary framework for understanding the usability of mobile computers

  • Gamel O. Wiredu
Original Research


This paper suggests a social-psychological framework for understanding the usability of mobile computers. This framework complements and extends extant sociological explanations of mobile computing. Sociological explanations satisfy principles of pragmatism and ubiquity in judging the usability of mobile computers. The paper argues that sociological explanations are inadequate, and draws upon the historical epistemology of perception to propose social-psychological explanations to complement them. By this epistemology, a user’s perception is deemed as a mode of action that is mediated by historical or functional representations. These issues are illustrated in an empirical case of the use of personal digital assistants (PDAs) in hospitals of the British National Health Service. The historical epistemology of perception suggests the principle of representation to complement the existing principles of ubiquity and pragmatism. This suggestion is derived from an analysis of the complementation between the user’s perception, work and movement which are conscious actions enacted concurrently during the use of mobile computers. Implications for the implementation and evaluation of mobile computing projects are provided.


Perception Representations Usability Mobile computers 



I thank Roger Kneebone, Harry Brenton, Amanda Burgess, Jackie Younger, Heather Fry, Jennifer Blechar, Csaba Hovarth, and the 12 trainees for their support during the empirical study. I am also thankful to the CTW Editors, and to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments which have helped in improving this paper. To God alone be the glory.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of TechnologyGhana Institute of Management and Public AdministrationGreenhill, AccraGhana

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