yesterday's technology tomorrow
Friday, September 22, 2006Tweaking, details, IA and IxD
This week Seth Godin posted about tweaking. Particularly I liked this comment he made
"What I found fascinating about the email I got is that a large number of web people are still hung up on the technology side, on getting the code just right and, to use the analogy, the typesetting, not the words. The reason for this is simple: there's a lot of horrible web coding going on. There are huge gains to be found by overhauling a site and getting the invisible stuff right.
But that's not the opportunity I was talking about. Instead, I'm talking about turning an arrogant checkout into a useful one by turning off the button that automatically resets to opt in to the spam list every single time I return to the checkout. Or changing the size of the product photo from 144 pixels wide to 500, because making the product the star can triple clickthrough."
This is what I find interesting about the focus of Internet Conferences here in Australia. They focus on the small things that, yes, we all agree need to be fixed but the bigger picture as Seth says is where the value lies.
Next week I'm off to said conference, but not for the conference talks as the content can generally be found from existing talks around the world or is too focused on the details of Information Architecture, Microformats, AJAX, accessibility etc. Where are the visionary speakers that go to eTech or less so Web2.0, that push our boundaries of thinking and help us reach for the stars rather than show us how to build the first few steps or to change the material our current steps are made of.
While I don't doubt that the topics above are of importance to many and, indeed, are subjects we could all skill up on; I would love to hear Bruce Sterling talk Spimes, Matt Webb talk about interactions with ubicomp, AJ Kim talk about the future of games, Will Wright talking about the intersectin between Games, ubicomp and agency, hell, even Chris Messina about barcamps and pulling things together.
The two workshops I am attending are focused on interaction design and iterative app development.
What appeals to me is Dan Saffer's description of interaction design, in which he describes IxD as "Interaction design is the art of facilitating or instigating interactions between humans (or their agents), mediated by products." This is totally captivating to me. Interactions been HUMANS mediated by PRODUCTS. How people interact with products. How products we see now such as mobile devices and can interacted with. And amusingly, how humans interact with people on web services (products) through devices (products)....humans interacting with humans through products in products ;-)
Dan put together a very informative diagram (The consultant in me likes the graphs) which I think sums up the position of IxD and IA well, the more content rich the products, the more IA is needed and the more functionally rich the products the more IxD is needed. Maybe this explains the focus of the conference on IA areas as in Australia there is probably much much much more work available on large corp intranets, media content sites (newspapers etc) than in product focused services and applications. Well worth a ponder.
He also had a post on recommendation systems which would make interesting beer talk given my background and areas of interest. I do agree with his premise that recommendation systems can stifle the serendipity of discovery.
Finally, as a plug, Dan has a book on Designing for Interaction which looks at this future world of Spimes and Blogjects and how humans will interact with this ubiquitous devices (everytime I type this I think of Bruce Sterlilng's Texan drawl saying Uuuubbbbeeeee comp).
Random Pile of Ben
ben at neuronwave dot com