Re: Signal Orange

15 Jun 2004 - 9:13pm
10 years ago
1 reply
714 reads
Jeff Howard
2004

Elizabeth's example of the Vietnam bracelets is a much better
illustration of this concept. Here's the crucial detail that's obscured
in the Signal Orange project. The bracelets open a dialog between two
people. That's the interaction the bracelets facilitate.

"... the wearer could talk about the person [on the bracelet] to others."

Here's a related example of this kind of Interaction Design. The Spring
2004 issue of Design Issues has an article about Kate Wells and the
Siyazama Project in South Africa. It really shaped where I think Dan and
I are both coming from in understanding the ramifications of human to
human interaction.

http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=6&tid=13677

The article discusses Design as an agent of social transformation. The
Interaction potential really isn't about the beadwork dolls that the
Zulu tribe created, though the dolls were integral to the process.
Instead, the act of constructing the dolls was designed to provide a
communal setting for the women of the tribe to discuss AIDS and its
prevention, circumventing the cultural taboo against such discussions.

Humans interact with objects, and that's a significant part of
Interaction Design. But that's only part of the story. Humans also
interact with other humans, as the Siyazama Project demonstrates.
Designers can have impact on how these interactions take place. Humans
also interact with their environment. Traditionally the domain of
architects and city planners, it's a fertile avenue for interaction
designers to explore.

Humans interact with Objects
Humans interact with other Humans
Humans interact with their Environment

I think Designers have something to contribute to each of these
areas--but we have to recognize the opportunity. It isn't an either/or
proposition. Different designers choose to scope their contribution to
Interaction Design differently. And that's okay. There's always going to
be human to object interaction. But as the discipline moves forward and
gains respect, I think we'll see it make inroads in unconventional directions.

// jeff

Comments

21 Jun 2004 - 3:24pm
Robert Reimann
2003

I've been watching this thread, and wanted to address a few
topics I've seen arise. A fun discussion!

The idea of "designing" how people interact with other
people (I'd instead say "influencing through design") is
a fascinating topic, but is I think, as others have mentioned,
a broadening of the term "interaction design" to the point where
it begins to lose any sharply defined meaning. It begs the
question of whether any form of social engineering, or any form
of design for that matter, qualifies at some level as interaction
design. It also begs the question of what is within the designer's
control, and what is a "second-order" effect of the design.

I would define interaction design as the design of (human-facing)
behaviors of artifacts, constructed systems, or environments. In other
words, it is the behavior of constructed things that is the detailed
focus of the design work. As it happens, it is primarily
digitally-enhanced things that seem to pass the threshold of
complexity beyond which design of their behavior is a more than trivial
process (I think we'd probably agree that the design of behavior
of a typical light switch is fairly trivial). Specifically, the
ability of digital systems to conditionally alter behavior based
on variable input is, I believe, what imbues these systems with
sufficient complexity/unpredictability for humans to interpret
their function as "intelligent" behavior that requires careful
planning (design) to successfully execute.

Any designed object has an effect on human behavior to the extent
that people use and experience it (this is true even of objects and
systems that are not "interactive"). Any good designer designs with
the anticipation of human behaviors in reaction to the designed
object and its functions. I don't see this as specific to interaction
design (though the effect is likely much more significant for interactive
than for non-interactive designs).

While I don't deny the connection between communication design
and interaction design, I also don't see this as a relationship
specific to interaction design. It might, however, be said
that the communication design of interactive products is often of
greater complexity and than, for example, print communication design,
and is certainly more highly constrained than typical communication
design for non-interactive products.

As for Signal Orange, it seems to me to be a classic communication design
venture, subverting a standard vector of corporate marketing communication
(t-shirt) to transmit an emotionally-charged political and cultural message.

Robert.

---

Robert Reimann
Manager, User Interface Design
Bose Design Center

Bose Corporation
The Mountain
Framingham, MA 01701

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of David Heller
Sent: Monday, June 21, 2004 2:40 PM
To: 'Dan Saffer'; 'Interaction Discussion'
Subject: RE: [ID Discuss] Intelligence and Awareness (was Signal Orange)

Ah, but it is important for us as an organization that is trying to draw
distinction between ourselves and other Experience Design groups to do that
otherwise we are just wasting our time.

BTW, if I had my way binary systems like a lightswitch would not require
interaction design, but a thermostat, especially one w/ a time would. Of
course we are talking gray areas here and a probably continuum, but we have
to be willing to do so and not promote rash generalizations that make
everything IxD otherwise we are just doing Design and I feel we would be
remiss to loose this discipline so easily. ... Of course if I make a
computer wearable ... Does that mean that the whole system is not subsumed
under fashion design? ... Obviously that isn't the case either. But we need
to be clear about mixed disciplines collaborating on products together. IxD
is about the design of behavior (as our site so neatly says somewhere) ...
So if the product can't behave then it isn't designed by us.

BTW, your discussion re: systems ... I'm not feelin' it so much these days.
I do feel that we are designers of products more and more ... But I'll let
it go for now. A system can be intelligent if there are best practices,
policies, and directives that move human beings to react in predictable and
rational ways given similar trigger responses. The humans become actors just
like products would.

I think more than anything else I feel it is dangerous to general IxD to
anything and anyone interacting. We will loose ourselves and we will loose
our mandate for organizing if we go in this direction.

-- dave

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Dan Saffer
Sent: Monday, June 21, 2004 2:18 PM
To: 'Interaction Discussion'
Subject: [ID Discuss] Intelligence and Awareness (was Signal Orange)

Intelligence and awareness are interesting places to draw distinctions, I'll
grant you that, Dave. But they do have their own problems. What is
intelligence? Or awareness? How do we measure them in products? Is a light
switch waiting for a human to flick it an example of interaction design? Or,
if variety is added into the mix, a thermostat? And if we talk about
designing systems, how do we define intelligence and awareness in those? A
level of complexity?

We're getting into a weird area here that's probably pretty academic...

Dan

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Howard [mailto:id at howardesign.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 15, 2004 11:13 PM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Re: Signal Orange

Elizabeth's example of the Vietnam bracelets is a much better illustration
of this concept. Here's the crucial detail that's obscured in the Signal
Orange project. The bracelets open a dialog between two people. That's the
interaction the bracelets facilitate.

"... the wearer could talk about the person [on the bracelet] to others."

Here's a related example of this kind of Interaction Design. The Spring 2004
issue of Design Issues has an article about Kate Wells and the Siyazama
Project in South Africa. It really shaped where I think Dan and I are both
coming from in understanding the ramifications of human to human
interaction.

http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=6&tid=13677

The article discusses Design as an agent of social transformation. The
Interaction potential really isn't about the beadwork dolls that the Zulu
tribe created, though the dolls were integral to the process. Instead, the
act of constructing the dolls was designed to provide a communal setting for
the women of the tribe to discuss AIDS and its prevention, circumventing the
cultural taboo against such discussions.

Humans interact with objects, and that's a significant part of Interaction
Design. But that's only part of the story. Humans also interact with other
humans, as the Siyazama Project demonstrates. Designers can have impact on
how these interactions take place. Humans also interact with their
environment. Traditionally the domain of architects and city planners, it's
a fertile avenue for interaction designers to explore.

Humans interact with Objects
Humans interact with other Humans
Humans interact with their Environment

I think Designers have something to contribute to each of these areas--but
we have to recognize the opportunity. It isn't an either/or proposition.
Different designers choose to scope their contribution to Interaction Design
differently. And that's okay. There's always going to be human to object
interaction. But as the discipline moves forward and gains respect, I think
we'll see it make inroads in unconventional directions.

// jeff

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