Interacting in the Global City

In today’s global cities, public urban space is constituted in my different ways. Residents in the same neighborhood may have very diverse types of knowledge about their shared public space: The children know the neighborhood at ground level, the tech designer knows the Wi-Fi coverage at the cafes, the homeless know about the night fauna.

How do these understandings of urban space affect our view, use, and design of technology?

Documentary exploring the future of Interaction Design and User Experience

Documentary exploring the future of Interaction Design and User Experience [18-min video]

The 18 minute “Connecting” documentary is an exploration of the future of Interaction Design and User Experience from some of the industry’s thought leaders. As the role of software is catapulting forward, Interaction Design is seen to be not only increasing in importance dramatically, but also expected to play a leading role in shaping the coming “Internet of things.” Ultimately, when the digital and physical worlds become one, humans along with technology are potentially on the path to becoming a “super organism” capable of influencing and enabling a broad spectrum of new behaviors in the world.

Don Norman: The Design of Future Things

Sit back and grab lunch as this is a long one.

February 9, 2007 lecture by Don Norman for the Stanford University Human Computer Interaction Seminar (CS 547). In this talk, Don discusses his latest book, The Design of Future Things, which is about the increasing intrusion of intelligent devices in the automobile and home with both expected benefits and unexpected dangers.

Mobile Interaction Design Book


“Mobile Interaction Design shifts the design perspective away from the technology and concentrates on usability; in other words the book concentrates on developing interfaces and devices with a great deal of sensitivity to human needs, desires and capabilities.”
From the first chapter of Mobile Interaction Design, by Matt Jones.
“Perhaps, though, the real issue is not whether mobile devices should focus mainly on communication or information processing. There is a broader concern – should one device try to do everything for a user or should there be specialized tools, each carefully crafted to support a particular type of activity? This is the debate over the value of an ‘appliance attitude’ in mobile design. Should we focus on simple, activity-centered devices – ones that might well combine task-specific communication and information facilities – or look to providing a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ that has every communication and information management feature a manufacturer can pack into it?”
You can Download chapter 1 (pdf, 2.3 mb, 37 pages). Mobile Interaction Design is available from Amazon. Found via Putting People First

Toy Interface

Here is a good model for a successful interface, please excuse the poor quality photograph. I took my daughter out yesterday to try on some hats and naturally no trip to the childrens clothing section is complete with out her going and playing with the toys on the same floor. Catriona found this simple looking “bike” and within 30 seconds was zooming around kniping at the heels of the other store patrons. I was struck by the ease in which she was able to use this toy and despite my belief that she is near genius I have to believe that the construction of the toy itself had quite allot to do with her ease in using the bike’s “interface”.
The bike moves around without pedals by a simple rocking of the handle bars. This action creates momentum, allowing you to acquire speed, after which you are able to glide. For an old man like myself it’s pretty ingenious.
This device succeeds in ways that can be applied to other more “traditional” interfaces.

  • All the complexity is hidden (there is a gear and extra wheel underneath).
  • The interface that controls the motion is attached to an object that allows for natural interaction. Catriona expects to move the wheel, it’s her mental model of this device, so she naturally wants to play with the steering wheel. This allows her to discover how the interface works and because she has done it many times before the time to learn this device is greatly reduced.

Pretty cool. An additional feature that I didn’t try out was the “bikes” ability to scale. The sales lady said that it accommodate even people of my weight and size. She motioned with a smile for me to hop on. I declined the opportunity.

The Interaction Design Association

The Interaction Design Group (IxDG) has officially changed its name and organizational status and have incorporated as the Interaction Design Association – a non-profit, member-supported organization.
I use their news announcement as a means of introducing what is a decent collection of resources contained within their site. The IxD Discussion mailing list is a great first step in getting involved and a wealth of information. I prefer to not be involved with any email lists – I have a hard enough time managing my email without adding to that activity. Why not a threaded discussion list with rss feeds? Email lists seem so old- school. Luckily they do have an archive.
Interaction Design Association

Dan Harden gets it

“If there’s anything anyone in this field is chasing, it’s Apple’s quality and simplicity. Pick up an iPod, and you get it, you feel it, you sense it. But let’s not forget that these things are made in China. It’s nothing different from what everybody else is doing. The difference is that Apple will spend a lot of time and a lot of money to train quality-control standards. Unlike smaller companies, it can afford to get to the microlevels and really think through how a button feels. As a result, it has made digital audio seem so easy, so fast, so seamless.”
Read the whole Fast Company article

First Principles of Interaction Design

“The following principles are fundamental to the design and implementation of effective interfaces, whether for traditional GUI environments or the web. Of late, many web applications have reflected a lack of understanding of many of these principles of interaction design, to their great detriment. Because an application or service appears on the web, the principles do not change. If anything, applying these principles become even more important.”
AskTog: First Principles of Interaction Design  


“Sonicforms an open source research platform for developing tangible interfaces for audio visual environments. The aim of the project is to improve this area of musical interaction by creating a community knowledge base and open tools for production. By decentralising the technology and providing an easier entry point, artists and musicians can focus on creating engaging works, rather than starting from the ground up.”
This at first glance looks quite interesting. Will certainly take a closer look … later.
Sonicforms – open source tangible user interfaces

Emotional Design: People and Things

“Our studies lead us to suspect that just as we might be able to classify products along three dimensions of attractiveness (visceral), functional and usable (behavioral) and high in prestige (reflective), we can also classify people along these dimensions. Visceral level people will be strongly biased toward appearance, behavioral people towards function, usability, and how much the feel in control during use. And Reflective level people (who would seldom admit to be one), are heavily biased by brand name, by prestige, and by the value a product brings to their self-image – hence the sale of high-priced whiskey, watches,, automobiles, and home furnishings.”

Emotion and Design

“Scott Adams had some fun showing how product aspects, such as quality and functionality, can be neglected when attempting to emotionally connect a product with a consumer. This line of humor is based on the premise that quality and functionality cannot coexist with form and feel. The emotional impact of products is currently receiving a great deal of press, with several newly released books and articles emphasizing the importance of creating products that not only accomplish tasks, but also ‘connect’ with users.”
Read the article