Human-Computer Interaction: Ways to Access Memory

There are two ways to access memory. First, through recognition, we process and compare information with our memory. When provided with information, we counter check with the previous records. These include feelings of familiarity, choice, matching and recognition. While the ability to recognize is developed through exposure, recalling involves a search in the memory and then performing a comparison.

Designers have shifted from using recall memory and instead prefer recognition memory interface. The use of modern GUIs (Graphical User Interfaces) has significantly contributed to the achievement of this objective. Because of this approach, the older command-line interfaces likes DOS or UNIX PROMPT have become obsolete (Sharp et al., 2007). The shortcoming of the command-line interface was that the commands were complex to learn and execute. In modern GUIS, commands are presented in a menu therefore making the recalling of commands from the memory unnecessary. To serve this course, designer should use easily accessible menus, multiple choices options, auto-complete suggestions, and visual imagery to assist in the operations. In the recent years, a lot of research has been done on the pen-based user interface. This interface is the main technique used in post-WIMP user interface. Its design is based on a pen-paper metaphor capable of capturing daily experiences. The interface, employs the use of pen gesture to perform various tasks such as sketching, text editing and 3D manipulation (Sharp et al., 2007). Zhao Rui presented techniques of incremental recognition to support gesture detection in syntax directed editors. In the recent studies, much focus has been directed on the analysis of gesture input regarding novice users with low education (Barrier, 2002). Although the results show the value of gesture input for novice users, sampling a large number of participants will produce a better validation. With the rapid technological advancement, there is some uncertainty as to whether the cost of financing this research reciprocates the benefits.

In my opinion, system administrators develop and incorporate recognition methodology in new or existing applications by evaluating the two virtues of memory. These are recall and recognize. With the existence of numerous shortfalls of recall memory, the recognition memory is a better alternative for efficient and effective user interface. Accessibility of recognition memory is much easier since it does not entail memory about origin, context, or relevance. Moreover, recognition memory has longer retention period as opposed to the recall memory. The rapid evolution of the development of effective memory has necessitated the incorporation of recognition memory in modern devices (Barrier, 2002). The user interface in these devices has been made more user-friendly and the accessibility of information is convenient. Application of GUI has made it possible for users to browse through their devices and become acquainted with various operations.

The difference between the recall and recognition memory, is illustrated in the system administrators attempt to minimize the memory usage of a device by designing a user interface that exhibit the concept of the recognition memory. Due to the interface’s potential to make objects, actions and options visible in a precise and concise manner, recognition memory far outweighs the recall memory. The user of the device does not need to remember the information that he or she wishes to be processed. Moreover, the instructions of the user to the device need to be visible, intuitive and easily accessible whenever needed. Categorically, recall and recognition memories are different. Does our mind exhibit any similarities between the two?


Barrier, T. (2002). Human computer interaction development and management. Hershey, PA: IRM Press.

Sharp, H., Rogers, Y., & Preece, J. (2007). Interaction design: beyond human-computer interaction (2nd ed.). Chichester: Wiley.