interface space

An interesting piece on some artistic explorations of interface culture.

I actually think some of the most interesting parts were in the comments:

“I mess up in real life and my left pinky and index finger motion for CTRL-Z.”

“After using a computer pretty much daily for 18 years, I have already tried to undo something I was drawing with a pen and also felt the need to press find when I was looking for something in my bedroom.”

“I have done this in regards to tivo. Something happens in real life and I try to rewind it and see it again.”

“I often wish I could “save” my progress in daily life and then try something wild and crazy, and upon failing just “open” my “document” and return to the point I was at before I got “experimental. Unfortunately, this damn life-thing doesn’t even come with an auto-save feature…”

We’ve always been able to select, cut, cut, paste, undo, find and delete things in the physical world. Except now we want to “highlight”, “Ctrl-C”, “ctrl-x”, “Ctrl-v”, “ctrl-z”, “ctrl-f”, and “delete” the physical world, which are all quite different from the physical analogies they were originally built on. Not only have these original  metaphors lost their original referents, but we now actually want our physical world to conform to these new meanings the original metaphors have taken on.  That is, we often want the physical world to be more like the digital interface we’ve gotten used to.

We are continuing to develop touchscreens, TUIs, and other new interaction paradigms that provide more powerful, pleasurable and intuitive interactions with the computer. Still, in the future as we as we figure out how to better connect the physical world to the digital we may still find ourselves holding on to keyboard commands, mouse gestures and GUI icons, not simply because they are efficient, but because they have become embedded in our culture.


  1. houssian

    It reminds me of the times that I’ve been sitting in Jeff’s class and tried hitting alt-F4 repeatedly.

  2. zhuofengli

    Interesting. We’re always thinking making technologies more natural as the physical world we live in, but hardly notice that we’re getting used to the non-natural technologies and they are becoming one part of our natural life.

    But human-beings learn things fast, don’t we?

    If we can find ways more efficient to interact with the computer than the keyboard commands, mouse gestures and GUI icons, maybe we will start to learn the new ways of interaction and leave the old ones behind. 🙂

  3. laurabrunetti

    That’s pretty cool. Are you thinking about doing something with that for your paper (for this class)?

  4. jimmypierce

    Yes. i agree completely: ” we will start to learn the new ways of interaction and leave the old ones behind.”

    although, even we when do create new, exciting paradigms for interaction, i suspect that we may begin to see more “retro” interaction aesthetics emerge, where maybe it’s hip to use GUI icons..and it wont just be a geeky, hacker thing.

    @laura: no. im not doing my paper on this. although, i think it would make for a really good paper exploring embodiment through digital-being-in-the-world vs. physical-being-in-the-world, and the breakdowns and integrations of the two.

    @aaron: hahaaa. i hope jeff saw that 🙂


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