Jan 27, 2011
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Jan. 27 Reading Responses


This reading was a great overview of interaction design concepts (especially usability goals vs. user experience goals), but the interview at the end was the most interesting for its applicative and direct experiential link with this user. First and most importantly, her definition of interaction design as the “design of products that reveal themselves over time” is one of the more insightful descriptions I have heard. It is layered and intuitive without being overly ambiguous (for me at least), and assumes a more poetic stance then the some definitions that feel more like the bastard children of engineers and designers.

Secondly, it is almost impossible to not relate to her experiences with clients, no matter your profession. The communication breakdown that happens in the realm of design is also not just a result of the ignorance of the client in my opinion, but also the intimidation that comes in trying to describe their desired end to a professional designer, a role that some designers play into. Most people that I have worked with cite this incessantly as a the biggest problem when working with an outside consultant on a project. A good designer, interaction or other, should also be a good interface.


Bill Moggridge

I have read this introduction a few times in the past at varying times, always illluminating a few idea based on my current life context. At this very moment, one stands out:

Thinking of the new in terms of the familiar by creating a metaphorical link between old and new, injecting emotional value into the new that wouldn’t have otherwise been there. This link plays the role of language substantiating the interaction between the user and the machine.

I really like the idea of designing a language for the conversation waiting to emerge between people and machines, especially through metaphor. I guess one question that has always lingered devilishly in the back of my head is the degree to which these conversations are really more of a conversation between ourself in our head and ourself in the world. This would apply more to an earlier stage of interaction design that was focused on the individual’s interaction with the machine-object. Then if the next stage is focused on connecting, on communication, the question refocuses to ask to what degree we do this (inject our projections into each other) with other people AND how do the interfaces we design facilitate this.

Even put another way, what is the nature of the suspension of disbelief that occurs when we are plugged in? Is it similar to a play or movie, or do we almost condition and rewire ourselves to bypass the “this is not real” stage and simply insert the same neural settings.


Marc Rettig

You really cannot appreciate the ease of contemporary interfaces and the rise of interaction design until you begin to look back. The most striking image was not the punch cards, nor the IBM 360, but more so the Wordstar interface and complimentary quick reference card. Granted, it is not the complexity of the reference so much as the functions it outlines. It overwhelms me to come into visual contact with a Flash reference, for example, while the thought of encountering this now seems humorously nostalgic. I also thought his method of framing the evolution of design through the notion of context was significant. It is always important to understand the user and their goals, but taken independent of the context, it would wipe the stage from which the user was standing. This idea was implicit in the other texts, but not as clearly articulated.


Terry Winograd

Winograd’s main argument is that people’s primary interest is communicating and interacting with other people and that it is this drive and desire that will move technology forward. I most certainly agree with this.

Even more interesting is the implicit upshot of his thesis in that the development and refinement of new technology also means (to a certain degree) realigning our initial ideas of what technology can actually do, vs. what we want to be able to make it do. For the laywoman, this can be a huge chasm.

There is a magical property of technology that both estranges us from it in terms of comprehension and in continuing to assign it faulty attributes. At first glance, computational technology operates within a logical structure that appears quite rigid and thus uninviting as a means of interaction. It is especially heightened when compared to intuitive or emotional logic we use to interact, communicate, and receive feedback with each other and with ourselves.

I mentioned metaphor in an earlier post an extremely effective bridge; however, in connecting the machinist to the humanist, it can sometimes widen the gap. My argument takes the form of my current mental image: a bridge that grows with the break between landmasses. Emotional, humanist attributes are one of the current major goals of interaction design: it is interesting to ruminate on what would happen if these metaphors were more in line with the logic of how the object/technology actually operates: would it give the user a greater sensibility of systems thinking? Would a reverse metaphorical translation occur, overlaying technical analogies to our personal interactions, as in so many dystopias? This idea feels rather obvious to type as it currently stands: it deserves a bit more percolation to precisely express it the way I would like. More bubbles, less fizz.

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