Cut With Flourish is Ed Macovaz's musings on the web, music and design
Timo Arnall has written an article No to NoUI where he argues against the calls for ‘invisibility’ in interface design. I think he makes some fair points – the ideas of ‘natural’ interfaces and affordances are seductive. If you’re not careful, you can forget that affordance and naturalness come from learning and culture. When you miss this you lose the chance to better use this understanding in your design.
There is one point I think Timo misses: I think when we say ‘invisible’ we’re talking about cognitive invisibility rather than literal invisibility. We want interfaces to be a point of interaction rather than a point of consideration or reasoning. Maybe ‘unconscious’ (‘intuitive’ has already been beaten to death) is a clearer description. To me this describes what we want: one only considers what needs to be done, rather than how a particular object needs to be manipulated in order to achieve it.
Some more handy lists
As I’ve mentioned before, I have a tiny hobby of keeping lists of good places to go in cities/places I’ve travelled to. Here’s the latest crop from the last year: Riviera Maya (Mainly Tulum but also some other spots), Boston and Singapore.
I also updated my Sydney list after my last trip there.
They only contain places I actually went to (with a few exceptions where I’m sure they’re still good). It goes without saying that @Sarahlincoln probably found most of these places for us.
Effective vs Self-explanatory
Max Rudberg on apps like Clear:
These apps have chosen to reduce details to achieve a minimal UI, but in the process the UI has also become harder to use.
I think Clear is a good example for a UI that has become harder to learn, but in the end easier to use. More upfront cost to learn otherwise hidden gestures, but then more economical interactions through those gestures once you learn.
A good rule of thumb is that the user should be able to figure out how to use an app just by looking at it.
It’s a rule of thumb, but not a rule.
Interaction design will often require a tradeoff between how quickly something can be learned against how powerful it will be once learned. I work with people who deal with the difficult task of making software behave like an instrument - something where, like a guitar, months or even years of training are paid off with a powerful and intuitive experience once mastered.
There’s an important distinction to be made between being easy to learn, and being easy to use. You need to be careful that in your attempt to make something easy to use you don’t reduce how effective someone can be once they have learned it.
We’re reading, perhaps more than ever, but we’re reading on our screens.
When it comes down to it seems we’re reading, watching and listening more with our tiny screens, but in a more varied way. Despite this people are still pushing us to pick up old formats on a new medium, old formats that are the way they are because of limitations from print that don’t exist on the web.
I don’t need a magazine. I like good writing and good content, I have an interest in specific topics, but like many other people I have a feeling that a “magazine” may not be the best solution to this problem. I think when people are asking for a “magazine-like” website, or content what they’re really saying is: “I want a solution that feels like it solves this problem on mobile and the internet as well as magazines felt like they did for print”. They’re not asking for a magazine on the web.
I’ve started another Tumblr to collect bits and pieces of design, mainly graphic, that I like. I’m doing as exercise to refine (or at least start to define my tastes), and I’m doing it somewhere else so that the rare moments these days where I have something to say, it doesn’t get lost in the soulless orgy of re-blogging FFFFOUND images.
You can watch it all live on Classic Fine.
Things to do in Prague. And other cities.
I’ve taken to putting a bit of effort in to compiling Foursquare lists of things to do in the various places I travel to. I thought they might be of use to others so I thought I’d post some.
Here’s my latest list for Prague, compiled for our long weekend visit last week.
I’ve also put together some decent ones for Sydney, Hong Kong, Copenhagen and New York. I also have one just for food in Berlin.
Programming in the 21st Century:
Small, elegant building blocks are used to construct imperfect, even ugly, programs. And yet those imperfect, ugly programs may actually be beautiful applications.
I’ve seen plenty to back this up, but nowhere near enough to be sure. It’s difficult to convince yourself that your users don’t see all the things (design, experience or code) that drive you crazy.
Making ethics less illegal
“Benefit Corporations,” a new legal structure that gives directors legal cover to consider social and environmental missions over financial returns
On one side, it’s depressing that this has to be a separate status, that we can’t work out how to get companies operations to include the costs they currently externalize onto society and future generations. On the other side, this is some small measure of progress.
Here’s hoping someone does for responsible, sustainable business practices what Apple has does for design - make shitloads of money from it and force everyone to take notice. The we’ll just have to endure everyone mindlessly aping them without understanding the principles involved…
Life as a VCR repairman in 2012
Steven Soderberg, quoted in Moviegoer:
A lot of people who think, “It’s just a double click—what difference does it make?” are going to find that out when they try to go into a field in which they are creating stuff and their survival depends on people buying their stuff. They’re going to have a moment of, “Oh, s—t. The reason I don’t have a career is because people are doing what I was doing when I was young.
This quote helps me understand why it’s so painful for the media industry to adjust to change forced on them by the internet. The idea that the movie/music/publishing industry will exist in the future, so we must continue to find ways to support them is a very limited way of thinking.
No industry is permanent and things often get broken during change. Ask typewriter manufacturers. Or VCR repairmen. Or the entire postal industry. It’s unpleasant because sometimes we have to see things disappearing before we can be certain about what will appear after. This kind of pessimism is dangerous because it distorts people’s view of the net value of change. In this case, you’ll be far more likely to look back and say “oh shit” about your job because you missed what was appearing, not because you didn’t care enough for what was disappearing.
One digital rights locker please
The Akamai for UltraViolet product is designed to connect with the digital rights locker and offer up storage, security and delivery of UltraViolet-enabled digital assets. The idea is to create a common reference point that studios and retailers can point to whenever a consumer tries to access an UltraViolet title.
Just in case you were wondering why the movie and TV industry is fucked - this is how they think.
My hot tip is that you might be able to get ahead by not imagining people as passive blobs of money from which revenue can be extracted. Try making something people want to use (see Apple, Facebook, Google, Nintendo) and pay for (see Apple, Nintendo).