Key Quote from Readings

G. Smith concludes her Forward to Designing Interactions by saying that interaction design as a field has solved one set of problems, and it now needs to move onto a new set.

However, after twenty years of drawing on existing expressive languages [e.g., film, typography, icons], we now need to develop an independent language of interaction with smart systems and devices, a language true to the medium of computation, networks, and telecommunications. In terms of perceptual psychology, we’re starting to understand the functional limits of interaction between people and devices or systems: speed of response, say, or the communicative capacity of a small screen. But at the symbolic level of mood and meaning, of sociability and civility, we haven’t quite achieved the breathtaking innovativeness, the subtlety and intuitive “rightness” of Eisenstein’s language of montage.

That seems to me to be a call for a discipline of interaction culture, which is distinct from, complements, but does not replace usability and traditional HCI. It’s also an opportunity for us not just to learn this new discipline, but actually to shape it.


  1. marty

    In my experience, many people practicing professionally as designers and developers of interactivity, come from a background in graphic design (especially those at the higher levels who tend to lead projects). Many of them approach their work with a sense of “visual primacy”, feeling that they need to architect content visually first and *then* make it interactive. It is as if they see interaction as merely a new element that visual design acquires in some spaces, rather than a new and wholly unique design medium.

  2. houssian

    I have to agree w/Marty, it seems that we are simply taking what we know of other mediums and adding a little layer on top, just like the example Jeff gave in class today of TV showing a cast of a radio show performing. They didn’t understand that it would be more interesting to have them act it out. Other popular shows in the first decade or two of television were also more or less copies of what was available in local theaters in an on-air vaudeville or variety show.

    It would be interesting to compare the struggling first years of television trying to figure out how to produce shows that people liked. Imagine trying to figure out how to take what they knew of movies at the time and then compress it down, lose some of the production values, and do it every week.

    OK So what?
    Just as has been said we Interaction Design needs to come into it’s own. We have make some good first attempts, we have borrowed a lot from other disciplines and added things. As researchers and designers we need to think critically about these issues, and contribute to the growing dialog that will eventually coalesce into the “language” of interaction design.

  3. yenning

    This quote and Jeff’s lecture make me think of “Metaphor.” When Designers design something, they might use this approach to design experience. The film showed in class used the process of kiiling cow to help present the main idea. The metaphor enable the theme itself to make more sense to audience.

    I believe that a metaphor might be viewed and explained by different people. It is a issue of culture and life experience. If the symbolic idea of a designer could be communicated with users through the product well, the design might be more transparent to users.


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