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Monthly Archives: December 2007

I’ve been catching up on the internets after a long roadtrip over Christmas.

Two images from the ever-excellent infosthetics.com made me think that the best interaction and information design is stuff that can be glanced-at:

To be glanced-at

or pored-over:

To be pored-over

but unfortunately, most commercial interaction design falls between these two stools, in the ‘don’t make me think’ category.

I’d like to create services that scamper between beautiful extremes in 2008…

Today, Dopplr went v1.0 and open – but while the rest of the gang were over in Paris, I was at the RCA for the final presentations from students on the teaching project I’ve been visiting tutor for.
A very long day, but very exciting to see the fruits of six weeks wrestling with an enormous, wobbly jelly of a brief: the future of money.
I’ve lectured and been a visiting critic at design schools before, and also been industry sponsor for a couple of projects similar to the one we’ve been running (Intel’s People and Practices group were sponsoring this) but this was the first time I’ve really been stuck into a project all the way through.
Totally nerve-wracking, and totally satisfying.

Thanks to Wendy March of Intel, Tony Dunne and my estimable co-tutor Onkar Kular. Special thanks to all the first and second year students on the Design Interactions course for putting up with me.

Curated in-part at least by Dan Saffer (who is probably the world’s best cello-playing interaction designer) Interaction 08 [upcoming.org entry] has a truly fantastic line-up of pundits, practitioners and provocateurs from the field of digital/physical interaction design, including Bill Buxton, Alan Cooper and Malcolm McCullough keynoting.

Dan was kind enough to invite me to speak, and I’m in equal part excited and terrified to be doing so in such company – and to what will probably be one of the most clued-up group of people you could put ideas in front of.

It’s in Savannah, Georgia, which by all accounts is a beautiful place, and up till 15th December, there’s a reduced registration price.

UPDATE: Here’s Dan talking about the event on Boxes&Arrows.

What work of art (film, book, record, whatever) changed your life?
Submitted by bodhibound.

It's a cliche, but probably it's Charles and Ray Eames' "Powers of Ten".

I saw it first on a children's television show in the UK called Picture Box, that showcased short films. I recollect it also showed "The Red Balloon" so obviously someone there was trying to bombard young kids with amazing visual culture as early as they could.

It blew my mind, and back then I couldn't have possibly known how many times I would watch, reference, dissect, crib, and re-watch that film for its themes, its form and its content. Scale, systems, and the seductiveness of self-similarity.

I think it's why I do what I do, and why I love what I do.

Read and post comments

No permalinks (boo!) at http://www.design-interactions.rca.ac.uk/news.html so here’s the blurb:

“If you are interested in how to explore new roles, contexts and approaches for design in relation to the social, cultural and ethical impact of existing and emerging technologies, please join us for our Open Day on Friday 7 December 2007. Visitors can meet and talk with students in the studio between 2.00 pm and 6.00 pm. Professor Anthony Dunne, Head of Department, will give presentations about the course at 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm.”

Here’s an upcoming.org entry for it if like me you can’t just remember to go to things any more.

gmm

Many have commented on Google’s new version of Google Mobile Maps, and specifically it’s “My Location” feature.

Carlo Longino homes in on the fact that it provides, finally, a somewhat humane and useful basis for a lot of the location-based services use-cases that mobile service providers and product marketers have salivated over for around a decade.

“I know my own zip code, but I don’t know its boundaries, nor do I know any others here in Vegas. So if I’m out looking for something, I’ve got little idea where to start. That’s the big problem with local search – we tend to spend a lot of our time in the same places, and we get to know them. We’re most likely to use search when we’re in an unfamiliar area – but often our unfamiliarity with the area precludes us from even being able to divine a starting point for our search. You don’t necessarily need GPS to get a starting point, as this new feature highlights.”

GMMv2.0 is sufficiently-advanced technology, not because of the concept behind it (location via cell network is pretty known) but the sheer, apparent quality of execution, simplicity and joy injected into the thing. This is something till now missing from most if not all mobile software, especially Symbian software.

Janne once said to me: “no-one codes symbian apps for fun”, and it shows. It’s enough to get the things working for most developers, and as they’re mostly doing it for a salary rather than fun, they walk away before the joy gets injected, or don’t argue when it gets de-scoped.

GMMv2.0 has some of the lovely touches that we’ve seen from the iPhone implementation carried over – like the location pins dropping into place with a little restitutional bounce. Just. So. It seems quicker and more focussed that v1.0, with location search features working to give the bare-bones info right there on the map rather than breaking-frame to a dialog.

The main, huge, thing though is MyLocation.

Chris gave a talk a few years ago at Etech 2004 called “35 ways to find your location”
, which argued against relying on GPS and ‘satnav’ metaphors for location services.

I don’t know if they downloaded his presentation in Mountain View, but GMMv2.0 delivers on Chris’s vision by not only using cellular location fiding, but how it interprets and displays it. By ditching the assumption that all location tasks are about a -> b in a car, and presenting a fuzzy, more-humane interpretation of your location – it gives a wonderful foundation for wayfinding, particularly while walking, which hopefully they’ll build on.

In other possible advantages that “Do not use while driving” gives you is it become a resource you can use indoors, where I’d guess 90% discussions about where to go and what to do actually happen, and where 90% of GPS’s won’t ever work.

Other contenders in the mobile wayfinding world seem to be pursuing interfaces built on the metaphors and assumptions of the car-bound “satnav” world e.g. Nokia Maps. Probably as a side-effect of most of their senior management driving to work in suburban technology parks everyday!

Actually, Nokia Maps (at least the last version I used, I switched to GMM and haven’t returned) does something even more bizarre when it starts up and shows you a view of the entire earth’s globe from orbit! I cannot think of a less user-centred, task-appropriate entry point into an application!

Very silly.

The Google mobile team are to be congratulated not only for technical innovation in GMMv2.0, but also having the user-experience savvy to step beyond established cliche in a hot area and think in a context-sensitive, user-centred way about the problem.

As Carlo says:

“I continue to be slightly amazed at the speed with which Google gets these apps and services out, and the overall quality of them, though I guess it’s a testament to the amount of resources they’re throwing at mobile these days.”

Can’t wait to see what’s next.

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