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# A cause of fatal mining accidents was once the peculiar configuration

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Status: Valar Dohaeris
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A cause of fatal mining accidents was once the peculiar configuration  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 10 Oct 2019, 21:07
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A cause of fatal mining accidents was once the peculiar configuration of the controls on the trams shuttling along mineshafts. Each tram had a steering wheel that rose straight up from the floor, with a brake pedal on one side and an accelerator pedal on the other. There was no room to turn the tram around, so to reverse direction the driver simply took a seat on the other side of the steering wheel, whereupon what had been the brake became the accelerator, and vice versa. While this may sound
ingenious, it proved disastrous.

Many people set an electric burner on high thinking that it will heat up faster that way: they have the mental model of a gas stove, whose knobs actually do increase the heat‘s intensity. On an electric stove, however, the knob is merely a switch that turns on the burner and then turns it off
when a certain temperature is reached.

Consider the humble wristwatch, which has been transformed into a kind of wrist-mounted personal computer, with a digital display and a calculator pad whose buttons are too small to be pressed by a human fingertip. By replacing the watch‘s conventional stem-winding mechanism with a mystifying arrangement of tiny buttons, the manufacturers created a watch that was hard to reset.

One leading manufacturer was distressed to discover that a line of its particularly advanced digitals was being returned as defective by the thousands, even though the watches actually worked perfectly well. Further investigation revealed that they were coming back soon after purchase and thereafter in two large batches—in the spring and the fall, when the time changed.

Charles Mauro, a consultant in New York City, is a prominent member of a branch of engineering generally known as ergonomics, or human- factors—the only field specifically addressing the question of product usability. Mauro was brought in to provide some help to the watch manufacturer, which was experiencing what Mauro calls the "complexity problem." With complexity defined as a fundamental mismatch between the demands of a technology and the capabilities of its user, the term nicely captures the essence of our current technological predicament.

A growing number of technologists speak of user-centred design as a means of scrupulously maintaining the user‘s perspective from start to finish, adding technology only where necessary. When confronted by some mystifying piece of high-tech gadgetry, consumers naturally feel that there is something wrong with them if they can‘t figure it out. In truth it is usually not their fault. Mauro attributes the confusion to the fact that most products are "technology-driven," their nature determined not by consumers and their needs and desires but by engineers who are too often entranced with the myriad capabilities of the microprocessors that lie at the devices‘ hearts

1. Based on the passage, an ergonomics expert would be likely to place high value on a product that:

A. required no instruction at all to use.

B. did not incorporate modern technology.

C. could be easily manipulated by hand.

D. solved complex problems for its user.

E. required elaborate instructions for proper usage

2. When consumers feel that there is something wrong with them if they can‘t figure a high-tech gadget out, which of the following assumptions are they making?

A. The gadget was designed for ready use by the average consumer.

B. Technology can only be understood by engineer-types.

C. The gadget designers were blind to the consumers‘ needs.

D. Everyone is equally capable of understanding new technology.

E. they are not as intelligent as the other person

3. According to one consumer survey, a third of all VCR owners have given up trying to program their machines for time-delayed viewing. How would the author probably explain this fact?

A. VCR owners have not yet found the correct mental model by which to interpret the VCR.

B. Those owners have concluded that the VCR was not well designed.

C. Those trying to program the machine are not as technologically savvy as they should be.

D. The VCR is the result of technology-driven rather than user-centred design.

E. The author would view this as an aberration

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Originally posted by LordStark on 06 Sep 2018, 03:48.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 10 Oct 2019, 21:07, edited 1 time in total.
Updated - Complete topic (913).
BSchool Forum Moderator
Status: Valar Dohaeris
Joined: 31 Aug 2016
Posts: 302
GMAT 1: 700 Q49 V37
Re: A cause of fatal mining accidents was once the peculiar configuration  [#permalink]

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06 Sep 2018, 15:55
1
shubham2312 wrote:
is the Passage correct because its hard to find continuity moreover para 1 and Para 2 looks like they have been picked from some different source .

shubham2312
This is done intentionally.
As per official explanation
"With passages such as this where the link between paragraphs is not immediately apparent, determine each paragraph's purpose and then look for the overall passage topic. Here, each paragraph discusses problems caused by technological complexity"
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Re: A cause of fatal mining accidents was once the peculiar configuration  [#permalink]

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14 Sep 2018, 04:03
OEs..

Strategy Point:

With passages such as this where the link between paragraphs is not immediately apparent, determine each paragraph's purpose and then look for the overall passage topic. Here, each paragraph discusses problems caused by technological complexity.

1) What do ergonomics experts value? According to ¶5, ease of use. Looking for a product that fits this criterion turns up (A). The example of the watch is helpful in reinforcing this point: the watches weren‘t defective, and presumably had instructions, but they were too complicated for users to understand.

(B): Distortion. Though an ergonomics expert would assert that technology should be easy to use, he wouldn‘t argue that technology should be eliminated altogether.

(C): Out of Scope. Ease of use doesn‘t necessarily indicate manipulation by hand. What about an ergonomic bathroom scale?

(D): Distortion. Though complex tasks should be made simpler, this doesn‘t mean that an ergonomic product has to solve complex tasks on behalf of its user.

(E): Opposite, as described above
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Re: A cause of fatal mining accidents was once the peculiar configuration  [#permalink]

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14 Sep 2018, 04:04
2) The situation mentioned is identical to that described in ¶6; use the main ideas from it for reference. If a user can‘t operate a product and concludes that the fault is with them, what assumption are they making? That the fault doesn‘t lie with the product. In the context of the passage, products are at fault when they aren‘t designed with average users in mind. Choice (A) ties these ideas together. Using
the denial test confirms the assumption: If the gadget wasn‘t designed for ready use by the average consumer, then the user would have no reason to believe that the fault lay with him.

(B): Distortion. Though the technology may have been designed by engineers, the user isn‘t necessarily assuming that no one but engineers can figure it out. As far as he knows, the problem lies only with him.

(C): Opposite. If the user assumed this, then there would be no cause to believe that the fault was his own.

(D): Opposite. As above, if this were assumed, there would be no reason for consumers to believe that something was wrong with them.

(E): This doesn‘t have to be assumed by the consumers.

Manager
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Re: A cause of fatal mining accidents was once the peculiar configuration  [#permalink]

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14 Sep 2018, 04:05

3) How would the author explain a situation in which consumers give up on trying to master a certain technology? The author‘s main purpose is arguing that users do this because the technology isn‘t built around their needs and abilities. Searching for an answer choice that echoes this turns up (D).

(A): Opposite. The author argues that technology should be built around mental models, not the other way around.

(B): Out of Scope. The author isn‘t concerned with what the consumers think about the product as much as with how easily they can use it.

(C): Opposite. The author argues that consumers shouldn‘t have to be technologically savvy to use a common product.

(E): ‗Aberration‘ is not the correct explanation.
Re: A cause of fatal mining accidents was once the peculiar configuration   [#permalink] 14 Sep 2018, 04:05
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