This bit of futurism from 2008 can be seen in much of the software I use.

We are going to soon carry out sports activities with our friends even when they are not in the same physical place as we are. More generally, computers will be increasingly used to persuade us to physically exercise and to make exercise more fun. At CHI 2008, Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and Stefan Agamanolis have organized the workshop on Exertion Interfaces which is taking place today, and I asked them four quick questions before the workshop start. Luca Chittaro: EXERTION INTERFACES. An interview with Florian ‘Floyd’ Mueller and Stefan Agamanolis


Something found from my notes. How much closer are we today (this was from 2008)?

By 2020 the terms “interface” and “user” will be obsolete as computers merge ever closer with humans. It is one prediction in a Microsoft-backed report drawn from the discussions of 45 academics from the fields of computing, science, sociology and psychology.
It predicts fundamental changes in the field of so-called Human-Computer Interaction (HCI).

By 2020 humans will increasingly interrogate machines, the report said.

In turn computers will be able to anticipate what we want from them, which will require new rules about our relationship with machines.
Computers to merge with humans


iTunes remove/delete dialog

iTunes dialog

Oops iTunes UI team. There is a questionable label in your dialog. Which action are we taking here? Are we removing the song or are we deleting the song? Deleting implies deleting the song all together, which may cause some confusion amongst users, especially since many no longer read the instructions above the button area at all.

It’s more efficient and effective to give users a button that’s labeled with the specific action (vs. the exclamation OK), but that label itself must agree with the action.

Perhaps with the major redesign coming to iTunes in the fall, Apple will fix this inconsistency.

Further, why is songs plural when I only selected a single song?


Just a sec …

Quick snapshot with my iPhone

Quick snapshot with my iPhone

Other than studying material design I’m new to the Android experience. When I was setting up my sons new phone the above dialog appeared.

“Just a sec… “ seems to be an incredibly odd choice for a waiting dialog copy. Seems out of place and too informal. Doesn’t strike me as friendly, nor is it particularly clear, especially for English as a second language users. And the waits were always much more than a second.


Art is the most complex, vitalizing and civilizing of human actions. Thus it is of biological necessity. Art sensitizes man to the best that is immanent in him through an intensified expression involving many layers of experience. Out of them art forms a unified manifestation, like dreams which are composed of the most diverse source material subconsciously crystallized. It tries to produce a balance of the social, intellectual and emotional existence; a synthesis of attitudes and opinions, fears and hopes. Art has two faces, the biological and the social, the one toward the individual and the other toward the group. By expressing fundamental validities and common problems, art can produce a feeling of coherence. This is its social function which leads to a cultural synthesis as well as to a continuation of human civilization. Today, lacking the patterning and refinement of emotional impulses through the arts, uncontrolled, inarticulate and brutally destructive ways of release have become commonplace. Unused energies, subconscious frustrations, create the psychopathic borderline cases of neurosis. Art as expression of the individual can be a remedy of sublimation of aggressive impulses. Art educates the receptive faculties and it revitalises the creative abilities. In this way art is rehabilitation therapy through which confidence in one’s creative abilities can be restored.
László Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion, Chicago 1947, p.28.


Hsinchu Field Recordings

Almost 12 years ago I was creating a number of sound art and interactive art installations which required me to go out and do some field recordings. My equipment was relatively crude but the end result didn’t depend on high-fidelity. I’m not really sure how I feel about those pieces now, lots of discordance and general noise. I guess much like my trumpet playing from years prior.

Going through my old work archive I found a number of the source files, some of which I have shared below:

Sound file 1

Sound file 2

Sound file 3

Sound file 4

Sound file 5

Sound file 6

Sound file 7

Some of the above will sound familiar to anyone who has lived in Taiwan for any length of time. All sounds were recorded in Hsinchu City.


Spark Synchronisation Dialog

Shouldn't that be Synchronising?

Shouldn’t that be Synchronising?

This simple dialog from the iOS email app. Spark illustrates how you need to consider different possibilities when creating copy for dialogs. In this dialog, “Please wait a minute” might seem like a great choice, it’s polite and gives what could be an accurate estimation of the task completion. The graphic also gives the user a sense of progress. Unfortunately in this instance there was an error which prevented the process from being completed, turning an estimated 1 minute task into 5 or more. It’s hard to accommodate outliers but it’s how you handle these instances that make a greater impact.

In the absence of accurate data (this I am sure was supposed to be a very short process so they likely decided not to include a progress bar) it’s important to properly set user expectations, well it’s always important to do so. Copy plays a big part in this.


Apple music curation can’t compare to Spotify

A simple search for running playlists results what on the surface looks like a good selection but doesn't come close to matching Spotify's offering.

A simple search for running playlists results what on the surface looks like a good selection but doesn’t come close to matching Spotify’s offering.

A simple search for running playlists results in a large variety. A seemingly endless scroll of options.

A simple search for running playlists results in a large variety. A seemingly endless scroll of options. Of note is that Spotify offers playlists to match your pace and you can find selections created for an event itself. I found some great music created for the Toronto Marathon.

My music listening habits have changed greatly over the years, no doubt influenced by the change from LP’s, to CD’s, later mp3’s, and now sadly music subscriptions. What was once a slow and deliberate activity has been replaced with decisions made by others. Gone are the days of creating mix tapes, and playlists in iTunes, managing music in iTunes is a unwieldy mess, and cassette tapes have all but vanished.

My music curation or play lists are largely now framed around an activity. Running is the most common, with work and background noise following. With this kind of listening its’ great to have someone recommend some tracks, something that used to be pretty common with cassettes, as it helps me discover music I might never have found otherwise. And it saves a great deal of time. While I could suggest a list of tracks that would make a great background ambience for a coffee shop, or dinner music, I would be hard pressed to suggest a playlist to help you focus.

Spotify absolutely excels at this, and despite a pretty decent display above, Apple Music fails to produce anywhere near the quantity, variety, and arguably quality. I’ve found Apple Music pretty difficult to understand from the very beginning, not just because the iOS and desktop apps UI are rife with issues, but because the curation was so strongly for someone other than myself. I’ve entered my preferences and they know my listening habits, so why are they still giving recommendations for music so far from my interests? Where are the extensive curated playlists? Their radio offering I’m sure appeals to a large crowd but they aren’t people who I have met.

Which is fine. A strong voice alienates some but appeals to many. Somehow Spotify has managed to bridge this gap by their extensive and superior curation, some by Spotify but much by others. Though they have failed every time they have tried to create a social aspect to their products (outside of iMessage which is a great success), perhaps Apple could try the same.