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Interface Reading Responses

December 21, 2007

Throughout the semester, we have completed several readings that are a basis for many in-class discussions and writing responses. Below are some of my responses. These were completed fairly quickly, in 5-10 minutes, so please disregard any grammatical or structural errors. Thanks and enjoy!

September 7, 2007

Reading: Value Fictions (I think!)

What I found to be most compelling about this reading was that it explored common instances of using representation that were seemingly obvious, and then explained why certain forms of representation are used to explain specific issues. It was interesting to learn how the human mind has limits when it comes to calculating an occurrence and that simplification is not a rudimentary way of explaining an experience, idea, or information by rather the best way for our brains to process the information and thus come up with new realizations based on the visualization of the data. Towards the second half of the reading, it was interesting to learn about why certain forms of data representation work better to fulfill a task than others. In the airline example, I found it interesting that to the average person, the official airline guide is not nearly the most efficient way to represent data for us to process. The reformatted chart of columns is significantly better, but the final reformatted example of the labeled lines of different lengths allows you to think less about the problem being solved. The shaded map example way also compelling to me in that there is a certain degree of liberty given to representing symbols or objects, but they still have to coordinate with what is natural about what is being presented. The first shaded map was significantly more complicated to understand than the second example since the shading that was matched with the percentage ranges did not make sense to how we see a natural occurrence, such as varying levels of radon. Overall, I think that this reading was meant to show us why we use representation to minimize the amount of complex thinking we do to complete a task or obtain an understanding of an explanation. It shows how most if not all things (objects, symbols, etc) in our society are binary, in that they represent something and serve as a supporting tool to fulfill a particular task.

September 11, 2007

[I can’t find the actual title of this reading assignment right now, but the subject matter had to do with exploring the relationship between humans and the interactive experience of a conceptual product]

Based on the last paragraph in chapter 1, the book does a good job of breaking down the relationship between humans and the interactive experience of a conceptual product. I found the statement on page 23 “…are conventional notions of user-friendliness compatible with aesthetic experience” to be quite intriguing in that user-friendliness should probably be reflected or expressed through aesthetics of an electronic object. Most industrial designers creating products for problem-solving or everyday life enhancement have been more concerned with the ease of functionality rather then expressing the role of an object through aesthetics. Although products are created to show what they do or how they perform, which limits the user’s ability to interpret the connection between the electronic object and the designer. As a user, we are only concerned with using the object for how it benefits our lives, and fail to question how it works and why. Another point that I found interesting in the reading was found on page 30 under Transparency where Dunne states that “most designs for interfaces with electronic products draw on familiar images, and cliches rather then stretching design language. Nothing is what it appears, but simply an allusion to something we are already familiar with.” All electronic products designed for human interaction are developed over time through many iterations of that particular product but usually always maintains a similar overall appearance to the original design. I find that in most cases, it’s necessary for a product to not stretch too far beyond the limits of design because users want to experience what is familiar to them about the product, but at an enhanced level. Otherwise, people would question the products functionality and how it would fit into their lives if it stretched too far beyond its original design. Because of this, I do agree that user-friendliness and comfort with a machine definitely go hand-in-hand.

September 20, 2007

Question: “Aesthetically controlled interaction” or “aesthetics of interaction”? What is it?

Aesthetically controlled interaction defines how a user responds to the design of an object, thus, what they do with the objects characteristics. This theory is clearly exemplified in the reading’s explanation of how a group responded to the relabeled toy gun. When the gun was labeled as an appointment planner, everyone interacted to the physical aesthetics of the gun as if they conveyed the purpose of a day planner. The aesthetic characteristics were perceived differently than they original gun label, and the user’s interacted to the aesthetics based on the gun’s new purpose. In aesthetically controlled interactions, user’s are going to interact with an objects aesthetics to get an experience incorporating all aspects of this object’s characteristics in order to have a full experience with it. Aesthetics lead the user to have a rich experience with the object and its purpose. The aesthetics should raise emotions in the user, aiding the interaction to its full potential Some aesthetics are created solely for a particular genre of users which leads the aesthetics to have an even more defined purpose in the user’s interaction.

October 14, 2007

Question: What from the audio “Ten Faces of Innovation” was useful when making observations?

Download Ten_Faces.mp3

This audio recording was really useful in helping me make my observations in a public space. The author at the beginning of the recording said to observe with a beginner’s mind and look past the obvious to observe, empathetize, and leave ot any previously held judgements. Keeping this in mind while doing my public observation in a neighborhood coffee shop really allowed me to fully digest what was going on around me, and keep me from completely interacting with the environment I was in. I was able to draw on my instincts of what I thought was going on in that environment and find what was intrinsicly rewarding about it, as encouraged by Tom Kelly. When the audio said to work like a novelist, this definitely helped me to literally put my observations into words and spell out my observations which started to flow like a book would describe a setting in the beginning of the story. The audio also stated a few other things to keep in mind while observing a public space that provided to be useful. Finding practical observations, a field that commands my interest, watching people and anticipating their needs, and looking at people that are a little different from me all guided me in being able to have an almost out-of-body observation experience while in my chosen public space. I didn’t sit and search earnestly or over-reach to try to find an interesting observation, but rather I just noticed details about what was going on around me and between the people surrounding me and started to notice particular patterns of behavior. Had I not listened to Tom Kelly’s audio before completing this assignment, I would not have known how to best observe this public space without using preconceived judgements or expectations which I found to be the most important ideals to be left out during this exercise.

October 16, 2007

Question: What do prototypes prototype? [from reading: “What do Prototypes Prototype” by Stephanie Houde and Charles Hill]

What is a role prototype?

A role prototype is made solely to show what that particular prototype (or artifact) might do for the user. It pays little attention to look and feel, but describes how it will function.

What is a look and feel prototype?

A prototype that focuses on look and feel explores what the artifact being prototyped will be like to interact with, and how it’s purpose will be visually displayed.

What is an integration prototype?

An integration prototype represents the overall and complete experience that users will have when interacting with the artifact. It includes look and feel and implementation, and guide the designer to see what needs to be improved and what constraints may be holding back the complete success of the design.

What is an implementation prototype?

These prototypes demonstrate the technical specifications that answer questions as to how the artifact will or might work. Look and feel is not defined in these iterations, and the main aspect to explore is how the artifact may function with the technology necessary for it to work.

[this reading has provided to be quite useful in guiding me through prototyping my final project…stay tuned!]

November 8, 2007

Question: What interesting and non-obvious things did you learn or like from the audio:

Gold From Thin Air: The Economy of Virtual Worlds
http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail772.html

Ivan Marovic
Breakaway Games, Co-Founder Otpor
http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail773.html

Steven Berlin Johnson
Author, “Everything Bad Is Good for You”
http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/shows/detail774.html

I actually had no idea that the Sims was not made specifically for gamers but rather for none gamers, as stated in Steven Berlin Johnson’s talk. It’s always appealed to me (more than say, Grand Theft Auto) since it seemed more of a video game that I would enjoy due to it’s implementation of strategy tactics that are very applicable to the real world. I also thought that Johnson’s game process analysis and breakdown was interesting in that to play a game, the players first learn the rules, develops strategies and constantly makes decisions based on feedback. Although this makes perfect sense, these processes are subconscious to the player and anyone viewing the player involved with the game. I thought that Ivan Marovic’s game, “A Force More Powerful” is an interesting example of games mimicking reality in a political context involving human nature. Hearing how this game started from a student activist group and emerged to be more widespread shows that we should constantly be looking towards real, everyday scenarios in societies as the basis for creating more games that will help instigate change in a particular society. This along with Edward Castranova’s talk on the economy of gaming was really profound in proving that there is a true culture and society created by video games (or any virtual games) that continues to grow and thrive with the emergence of new players and games.

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