MacBook Air

15 Jan 2008 - 1:45pm
6 years ago
71 replies
1777 reads
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

There's probably going to be at least one person on this list who's
got a glimpse of MBA today:

http://www.apple.com/macbookair/

Any reports on this, particularly the multitouch interface would be appreciated.

Another issue -- there are some similarities here to the design
parameters for the Tata Nano -- strip the dang thing down to its
essence. MBA, of course, has a more elitist market than the Nano.
There's unlikely to be any issues raised regarding the possible
downsides of proliferating the Air. Incidentally, Apple claims that
they've gone the extra mile in making the Air eco-friendly (in
disposal).

Thanks.

Murli

Comments

16 Jan 2008 - 2:20pm
Dane Storrusten...
2008

Hello Nair,

Some good point here...

> Thinking practically, requiring users to physically touch the display
> on an already light devicee would probably cause it to tilt backward
> without counterweight in the base...

Dane: Then this might be the wrong device to introduce multi-touch, it is an accessory experience at best. Bottom line... not an additional value to the user. This is why I commented on the Lenovo and Toshiba tablet PCs being a better functional design for this as they have the reversible fold display that hides the keyboard and creates a solid surface for direct touch ON the display. And what about the iPhone? That is a light mobile device with direct touch capability. Nobody complains you need 2 hands to use it for multi-touch features (hold with one, touch x 2 with the other).

> The best way to integrate those novel interactions was to use the
> already existing touchpad. I feel like once people use it, it'll make
> sense.

Dane: Sure, if the initiative is to "find a way to add multi-touch to this system". Otherwise I disagree...and it is inconsistent with what they are doing with iPhone. Your right, people WILL learn to use it and 'adapt' which will just create yet more habits that will need to be broken down as user interfaces become more and more natural. Is that a solid initiative or adding value to the existing device? I think not.

> Do you really need to put your fingers on a photo or an app window to
> feel sufficiently connected to the interaction? You're already using a
> desktop OS

Dane: No, I don't think multi-touch on the trackpad is necessary either on this device. I can guarantee if 'multi-touch' and 'gestures' are being added that the optimal goal is have direct interaction with content rather than having a physical device wedged in between you and the things you care about. Anything less is likely a stepping stone to that method, and therefore, the current interaction methods (keyboard and trackpad w/out multi-touch) are sufficient. Adding multi-touch to an indirect trackpad (requiring yet more hand-eye coordination) is just a novelty and in my opinion confusing new and legacy interaction methods.

Multi-touch, gestures, etc. all have the common goal of making the experience more 'natural' and I believe the MacBook Air is contradictory in that space, that's all.

________________________________________________________________
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16 Jan 2008 - 3:39pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I would disagree with your statement that UCD is a formally designed
> process which mandates usability testing. I think of it in more
> generic terms.

Apparently, the more in-depth we dissect a particular design decision, the
higher the odds are we'll end up discussing the definition of UCD.

-r-

16 Jan 2008 - 5:25pm
White, Jeff
2007

That's certainly a good observation. Do you think this means
something? Is good, bad, etc?

Jeff

On Jan 16, 2008 3:39 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
> > I would disagree with your statement that UCD is a formally designed
> > process which mandates usability testing. I think of it in more
> > generic terms.
>
>
> Apparently, the more in-depth we dissect a particular design decision, the
> higher the odds are we'll end up discussing the definition of UCD.
>
> -r-

16 Jan 2008 - 5:41pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> That's certainly a good observation. Do you think this means
> something? Is good, bad, etc?

Mostly, it's just ... humorous. No matter how much we talk about it, we
never come to a consensus on the definition of UCD, but we just keep on
talking about it, going in circles, over and over again, regardless of which
thread started the conversation. It's almost a Laurel and Hardy sketch at
this point. (Maybe I'm jaded.)

-r-

16 Jan 2008 - 6:14pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

Well, I also find it frustrating. One of the problems with our field
is that it's hard to define. Key terms we use -- like design -- mean
a lot of things to people. I'm really bored with hearing how the term
"user" is terrible and only also used by drug dealers.

Etc. etc.

Frankly, I think it hurts us.

All the way back in 2003, when I was editor in chief of User
Experience magazine, I wrote an editorial that said in part:

"Can we collectively (and by this I mean all the players in our
human-centered universe) come up with a clear, shared, compelling
and, above all, actionable vision to present to the technology
community? To do this, we'd have to make a few concessions. We'd
have to put aside our love of arguing fine distinctions and reach for
the fundamental agreements that we all share. We'd have to agree upon
a common terminology even if some nuances are lost."

My call to action was to suggest that get together and make it
happen. But it seems that we are not quite there yet.

Charlie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24564

16 Jan 2008 - 7:21pm
White, Jeff
2007

Charlie and Robert, I couldn't agree more. I get equally as frustrated
every time the list talks about what design is, or what interaction
design is. I simply want us to agree on something and move on to
bigger and better things.

I've expressed this in the past, the response I got was that, hey,
this is a discussion list, it happens. The conversation is valuable,
even if it does happen frequently at an excruciatingly level of
detail. It's not the destination, it's the journey type of stuff. I
can see that point of view and I can the point of view that the 3 of
us seem to share.

I'm not sure what to do about it, or if we should do something about it.

I know that the term "user centered design" isn't really technically
accurate, as others have pointed out - it's not *just* about users,
it's about other context - goals, technology, etc. But does it do us
any good or the larger community we're trying to serve any good to
debate endlessly about a definition? Does it do any good when
consulting agencies spin off different terms for the same darn thing
for competitive advantage or profit centric agendas? It is realistic
to think we can address this and solve it once and for all? I really
don't know. But I'd love to be a part of some effort to find out.

Jeff

On Wed, 16 Jan 2008 15:14:25, Charlie Kreitzberg <charlie at cognetics.com> wrote:
> Well, I also find it frustrating. One of the problems with our field
> is that it's hard to define. Key terms we use -- like design -- mean
> a lot of things to people. I'm really bored with hearing how the term
> "user" is terrible and only also used by drug dealers.
>
> Etc. etc.
>
> Frankly, I think it hurts us.
>
> All the way back in 2003, when I was editor in chief of User
> Experience magazine, I wrote an editorial that said in part:
>
> "Can we collectively (and by this I mean all the players in our
> human-centered universe) come up with a clear, shared, compelling
> and, above all, actionable vision to present to the technology
> community? To do this, we'd have to make a few concessions. We'd
> have to put aside our love of arguing fine distinctions and reach for
> the fundamental agreements that we all share. We'd have to agree upon
> a common terminology even if some nuances are lost."
>
> My call to action was to suggest that get together and make it
> happen. But it seems that we are not quite there yet.
>
> Charlie
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24564
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
>
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

16 Jan 2008 - 7:55pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> It is realistic
> to think we can address this and solve it once and for all? I really
> don't know. But I'd love to be a part of some effort to find out.

Perhaps we should collectively go find some good definitions, craft one of
our own in a constructive, proactive *project*, and then stick the
definition up on the IxDA site, and call it a day.

In the future, when the IxDA is as well-respected and well-known as, say,
the AIGA, designers can reference the IxDA definition and we can stop all
this silliness. Time to focus on more important things, like what we can
contribute to the industry and how, beyond endless debates and "it depends"
responses.

-r-

16 Jan 2008 - 8:15pm
dszuc
2005

Yup and its only a useful definition if the people we are selling it
to understand it and see how it will help their business succeed or
help them do their jobs better in a project context.

We often reference the ISO definition of Usability (simply to let
folks we are presenting to know it exists), but in an overall
business presentation setting, we dont spend too long on definitions.

rgds,
Dan

Daniel Szuc
Principal Usability Consultant
www.apogeehk.com
T: +852 2581 2166
F: +852 2833 2961
"Usability in Asia"

The Usability Kit - www.theusabilitykit.com

On 17/01/2008, at 8:21 AM, Jeff White wrote:

> Charlie and Robert, I couldn't agree more. I get equally as frustrated
> every time the list talks about what design is, or what interaction
> design is. I simply want us to agree on something and move on to
> bigger and better things.
>
> I've expressed this in the past, the response I got was that, hey,
> this is a discussion list, it happens. The conversation is valuable,
> even if it does happen frequently at an excruciatingly level of
> detail. It's not the destination, it's the journey type of stuff. I
> can see that point of view and I can the point of view that the 3 of
> us seem to share.
>
> I'm not sure what to do about it, or if we should do something
> about it.
>
> I know that the term "user centered design" isn't really technically
> accurate, as others have pointed out - it's not *just* about users,
> it's about other context - goals, technology, etc. But does it do us
> any good or the larger community we're trying to serve any good to
> debate endlessly about a definition? Does it do any good when
> consulting agencies spin off different terms for the same darn thing
> for competitive advantage or profit centric agendas? It is realistic
> to think we can address this and solve it once and for all? I really
> don't know. But I'd love to be a part of some effort to find out.
>
> Jeff
>
> On Wed, 16 Jan 2008 15:14:25, Charlie Kreitzberg
> <charlie at cognetics.com> wrote:
>> Well, I also find it frustrating. One of the problems with our field
>> is that it's hard to define. Key terms we use -- like design -- mean
>> a lot of things to people. I'm really bored with hearing how the term
>> "user" is terrible and only also used by drug dealers.
>>
>> Etc. etc.
>>
>> Frankly, I think it hurts us.
>>
>> All the way back in 2003, when I was editor in chief of User
>> Experience magazine, I wrote an editorial that said in part:
>>
>> "Can we collectively (and by this I mean all the players in our
>> human-centered universe) come up with a clear, shared, compelling
>> and, above all, actionable vision to present to the technology
>> community? To do this, we'd have to make a few concessions. We'd
>> have to put aside our love of arguing fine distinctions and reach for
>> the fundamental agreements that we all share. We'd have to agree upon
>> a common terminology even if some nuances are lost."
>>
>> My call to action was to suggest that get together and make it
>> happen. But it seems that we are not quite there yet.
>>
>> Charlie
>>
>>
>> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
>> Posted from the new ixda.org
>> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24564
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>>
>> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
>> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
>> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

16 Jan 2008 - 8:34pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

Well, if people are interested in collaborating on some of these
definitions, I would be happy to try and coordinate. I'm too tired
to write a lot about this now but anyone who wants to talk further,
please feel free to email me.

One of my interests is to begin to create a body of knowledge about
interaction design. I've been thinking about some form of wiki
perhaps where we all could contribute.

I'd be happy to discuss this in Savannah if you will be there. Or,
email me (charlie(at)cognetics.com) and we can brainstorm about it.

After I get some sleep though :-).

Charlie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24564

17 Jan 2008 - 9:14am
Tommy Eskelinen
2004

[I simply want us to agree on something and move on to bigger and better
things.]

Isn't this exactly what this list is doing, trying to have lots of people
agreeing? With moderate success.

[It is realistic to think we can address this and solve it once and for all?
I really don't know.]

I personally don't think we can solve it by having all the people agreeing
on a definition just as art experts can't agree on what art is.

And my two cents then...
(Good) Interaction design to me isn't possible to define unless you compare
it with something, otherwise it's "just any other design" in the same way as
anyone can say they are a musician or an artist.

Moving on from this, I'd say that anyone calling themselves an Interaction
Designer needs to prove that they indeed are good interaction designers,
either by their track record or if they don't have any, by having the right
mentors (people, companies or schools).

I wouldn't say that our field needs to "scientifically prove" its existence
in some sort of grand unification theory. Also, wouldn't it be boring to
have a formula that anyone can use to make good design?

The thing that drove me into this fields (and still entices me), is the
simple fact that you just can't predict the outcome of a design to 100%
since all people are different. All the tools we use are ways of minimizing
the risk of it being way off.

Still, isn't it wonderful that there are people that just get it right by
daring to try out a new direction? This is why I love Apple products since
they manage to create that magical desire for a product - simply to package
things that people feel they need. I don't think there is a way of measuring
desirability.

Talking about MacBook Air, well, I wasn't all that impressed. It's sort of a
half-way point to where we could be. Still, it makes me think of the
possibilities I could use it for, and not to mention of the things to come.

As for my track record, well, it's not superbly good, so I call myself a
novice interaction designer :-)

/tommy

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jeff
White
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 1:21 AM
To: Charlie Kreitzberg
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] MacBook Air

Charlie and Robert, I couldn't agree more. I get equally as frustrated
every time the list talks about what design is, or what interaction
design is. I simply want us to agree on something and move on to
bigger and better things.

I've expressed this in the past, the response I got was that, hey,
this is a discussion list, it happens. The conversation is valuable,
even if it does happen frequently at an excruciatingly level of
detail. It's not the destination, it's the journey type of stuff. I
can see that point of view and I can the point of view that the 3 of
us seem to share.

I'm not sure what to do about it, or if we should do something about it.

I know that the term "user centered design" isn't really technically
accurate, as others have pointed out - it's not *just* about users,
it's about other context - goals, technology, etc. But does it do us
any good or the larger community we're trying to serve any good to
debate endlessly about a definition? Does it do any good when
consulting agencies spin off different terms for the same darn thing
for competitive advantage or profit centric agendas? It is realistic
to think we can address this and solve it once and for all? I really
don't know. But I'd love to be a part of some effort to find out.

Jeff

On Wed, 16 Jan 2008 15:14:25, Charlie Kreitzberg <charlie at cognetics.com>
wrote:
> Well, I also find it frustrating. One of the problems with our field
> is that it's hard to define. Key terms we use -- like design -- mean
> a lot of things to people. I'm really bored with hearing how the term
> "user" is terrible and only also used by drug dealers.
>
> Etc. etc.
>
> Frankly, I think it hurts us.
>
> All the way back in 2003, when I was editor in chief of User
> Experience magazine, I wrote an editorial that said in part:
>
> "Can we collectively (and by this I mean all the players in our
> human-centered universe) come up with a clear, shared, compelling
> and, above all, actionable vision to present to the technology
> community? To do this, we'd have to make a few concessions. We'd
> have to put aside our love of arguing fine distinctions and reach for
> the fundamental agreements that we all share. We'd have to agree upon
> a common terminology even if some nuances are lost."
>
> My call to action was to suggest that get together and make it
> happen. But it seems that we are not quite there yet.
>
> Charlie
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24564
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
>
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>
________________________________________________________________
*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

17 Jan 2008 - 8:12am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 16 Jan 2008, at 17:34, Charlie Kreitzberg wrote:
[snip]
> One of my interests is to begin to create a body of knowledge about
> interaction design. I've been thinking about some form of wiki
> perhaps where we all could contribute.
[snip]

Not IxD specific, but their is a usability BOK WIP wiki at http://
draft.usabilitybok.org/. I'm sure that more contributors would be
welcome.

.... which appears to be broken at the moment... I'm sure it'll be
back soon though since my RSS reader picked up some changes last night.

Cheers,

Adrian

17 Jan 2008 - 5:18pm
Nasir Barday
2006

Yikes, didn't mean to ruffle feathers back there; was just clarifying the
definition of UCD, esp. in relation to saying Apple doesn't do UCD but still
makes good products through Genius Design. I naively thought it was a
standard on the list-- obviates the need for a definitions repository.

>> I'd say that anyone calling themselves an Interaction
>> Designer needs to prove that they indeed are good interaction designers,
>> either by their track record or if they don't have any, by having the
right
>> mentors (people, companies or schools).

Er, not sure I agree with requiring everyone with this job title (or with
IxD in their job description) to prove themselves to the world, and I'm not
sure that having rockstar mentors qualifies a designer as good, either. For
example, anyone can call herself a Graphic Designer without having a track
record or crazy famous mentors; as long as she's got the right skills and
doing the right kind of work.

Perhaps what you mean is that we should agree on what it means to be an
Interaction Designer, and on what the craft of Interaction Design means.
There's already a definition of both the craft and the practitioner:
http://ixda.org/about_interaction.php

Perhaps this is a good place for the other proposed definitions list to
live.

- N

17 Jan 2008 - 4:36am
Alexis Brion
2007

This is a great machine (maybe too expensive). I wrote an article
about the advantages the new trackpad could have for impaired people:
http://www.designvsart.com/blog/2008/01/16/macbook-air-good-for-the-impaired/

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=24564

17 Jan 2008 - 5:04pm
Bruce Tognazzini
2003

With regards to Apple patents, Apple did not invent the gestural
interface, such interfaces have been around for a few decades. Apple
also did not invent the pinch gesture. I used it in Starfire (search
Google for Tog Starfire) in 1993. That doesn't mean that Apple's
patents aren't valid, only that they do not claim dominion over
everything in the universe.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24564

17 Jan 2008 - 5:09pm
Bruce Tognazzini
2003

Dane Storrusten suggested that the trackpad is a step backwards from
the "direct" interface of the iPhone screen. There's been a
long-recognized problem with "direct" interfaces when the human
fingers are involved: they cover up what you're working on. When
using the iPhone, for example, it's pretty much an act of faith that
your finger is over the desired character before selecting it.

Apple has provided a work-around, by having the character blow up in
size and appear higher on the screen to provide feedback, but, in
real life, "typing" is a lot faster if you just take your chances
and correct errors until you get fluid at the task.

"Indirect" interfaces,such as the trackpad, eliminate this problem
by substituting, on the screen, a small pointer for the giant finger,
so the desired target is not obscured.

I'm not arguing against "direct" interfaces; I simply seek to
suggest there are strengths and weaknesses.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24564

17 Jan 2008 - 7:02pm
AlokJain
2006

I think using track-pad for gesture is very appropriate for laptop
kind of a device is very appropriate, however the space is very
limited for gestures. So some gestures like using two finger scroll
which they have had would be fine but when I think of gestures like
'pinch' and 'rotate' and in future more complex ones, I think track
pad space is a bit limited and there would probably be a disconnect
between perception of space looking at screen v/s using track pad.

I think if the entire keyboard space was changed to a track pad, it
could become quite useful for these and more complex gestures. there
could be a toggle switch to change track pad to a keyboard and back.

- Alok Jain
http://www.iPrincipia.com

On Jan 17, 2008, at 2:09 PM, Bruce Tognazzini wrote:

> There's been a
> long-recognized problem with "direct" interfaces when the human
> fingers are involved: they cover up what you're working on. When
> using the iPhone, for example, it's pretty much an act of faith that
> your finger is over the desired character before selecting it.

17 Jan 2008 - 8:47pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

It seems that there are actually two conversations going on here: one
about the Macbook Air and one about the frustration of going around
in circles as we discuss the definitions of UCD. This comment is
about the latter.
I think the problem is far deeper than just trying to define the term
UCD (or any other term for that matter). For me it's about defining
our profession in terms that make sense to decision-makers within
organizations. That is the only way that we will be enabled to
function as effective influencers and strategists
I became an interaction designer many years ago because I have a
passion for this work. I believe that when we do our jobs well we can
effect transformation. UCD is not just %u201Canother%u201D alternative
to technology driven design. It%u2019s about empowering people through
creating efficient and effective tools so they can be at their best.
At the end of the day, UCD can make work more efficient, make
collaboration and communication better and make education more
effective. It does these things by empowering people so they can
realize their potential and implement their vision. That%u2019s no
small achievement.
What do we want? Do we want to be a recognized profession? Can we
establish a sound theoretical basis for the work we do? Can we
recognize quality and define metrics to measure it? Can we create
replicable processes and teach them to others?
I believe that the answer to all these questions is %u201Cyes.%u201D
We can do these things and we should.
There are already efforts underway that we should be aware of. The
UPA body of knowledge is doing good work. There is also a really
interesting on-line encyclopedia of interaction design at
http://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/. There are also many
interesting books out there, some written by participants here.
Whatever comes next should not duplicate the work that others have
done but should support it. If we want to avoid the "Laurel and
Hardy syndrome" that Robert Hoekman pointed out, we definitely need
to avoid re-inventing the wheel over and over again. That%u2019s just
a waste of time. What we need to do is to take our thinking to the
next level.
I hope that I will meet some of you in Savannah and have the
opportunity to discuss some of these issues in more depth. I hope
that when we get back, we will be able to continue and expand the
conversation using the tools of social computing.

Charlie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24564

17 Jan 2008 - 8:49pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

P.S. Sorry about the awful paragraphing and % characters. I guess you
cannot write your post in Word and copy and paste it in.

Charlie

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24564

17 Jan 2008 - 6:47pm
Dane Storrusten...
2008

Absolutely Bruce. There definitely are strengths and weaknesses to both and these are all good points, especially in context to the fact that OS Leopard is not built for direct touch like iPhone's software. It's ALL in how the software is designed. I am saying a laptop with Leopard OS/Windows/etc. probably isn't the right platform for multi-touch.

I guess my next conflict is the inconsistency (i.e. iPhone = direct, MacBook Air = indirect).

Some additional comments on direct vs. indirect:

> There's been a long-recognized problem with "direct" interfaces when the human
> fingers are involved: they cover up what you're working on.

Let's define what "working on" means. Certainly, there are very precise tasks that direct manipulation alone isn't great for (such as typing on a soft keyboard). But there are workarounds as you mentioned that are sufficient. There are plenty of other more tasks and activities that don't require precision like a mouse cursor. It's all in how the software is designed.

Virtual keyboards are nothing to base the success of direct manipulation on. Don't tie direct manipulation to using a virtual keyboard. I agree with the faults there. What about gestures for scrolling through content, grabbing any two points on a photo to resize, place any two contacts on a map to zoom, scooping many items together with multiple fingers/hands, etc?

> ...but, in real life, "typing" is a lot faster if you just take your chances
> and correct errors until you get fluid at the task.

I would argue that this IS direct manipulation, your user interface IS the physical keyboard. That's valuable. Am I responding to that correctly?

> "Indirect" interfaces, such as the trackpad, eliminate this problem
> by substituting, on the screen, a small pointer for the giant finger,
> so the desired target is not obscured.

It eliminates that problem and that problem only. Are there 2 cursors? It makes the mental model more complex due to the size ratio difference between the pad and the screen (more hand-eye coordination to deal with much like Wacom tablets which I've used for years). This is something people can get used to but isn't really adding any value. The value of direct is that you remove the 'mental coordination' for simple tasks.

The best metaphor I can come up with is: Direct manipulation on screen is like building a ship with your hands. Indirect manipulation of content through a computer is like building a model ship inside of a bottle. You are controlling other tools to then control your 'materials' or 'content'. Certainly you can learn to do this over time, but not without an exorbitant amount of effort and mental coordination (which leads to stress, discomfort, and overall dissatisfaction when compared to a simpler method).

P.S. I have the same issues with "air gesturing" using a projection system. This also is just a novelty to me :)

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18 Jan 2008 - 12:09am
Murli Nagasundaram
2007

Great sub-threads, both. This refers actually to both the Air as well
as the What is UCD subthreads. There is a danger of creeping hubris
when IxDers begin to believe that they are Knights in Shining
Armor/Saviors of the Oppressed User who've come to deliver the hapless
users from their anguish and subjugation. Wasn't that what the Mac's
1984 Super Bowl ad was about? [Loved the commercial, btw.] It never
hurts to constantly remind oneself that human beings are Highly
Adaptable and don't necessarily require the Greatest Designs in the
World to go about their work effectively. Just a brief tour of
museums and ancient ruins will remind us that some of the greatest and
timeless works of art and engineering were brought to being with the
crudest and most primitive of tools. And the continued dominance of
the QWERTY keyboard reminds us that the average user is less excited
by Well Thought Out Design than the average IxDer.

This is not a plea to abandon the pursuit of good design, but for some
modesty and humility in the way we go about our work. While we can
scream ourselves hoarse about what our field really is about, the User
doesn't care a damn. This field/profession -- unlike medicine,
accountancy and law -- is a moving target. The moment you set down a
definition, the ground shifts beneath your feet and you're back to
square one. I've seen this happen with the field of Information
Systems over a three decade period. They're still out there,
squabbling among themselves like a pack of hungry crows, while the
world moves on.

Someone rightly brought up Industrial Design as a predecessor to IxD.
In another decade or two, something else might spin out of IxD, and
they'll repeat this process once again.

About interfaces, I read a whole bunch of very persuasive articles a
year ago on why the iPhone/iPodTouch interface is bad -- all before
zillions of pieces were lapped up by the market. The usual response
of designers to this sort of behavior is: The User is An Idiot Who
Doesn't Know What is Good For Her.

Viewed from that perspective, the world seems to be populated mainly
by idiots.

On Thu, 17 Jan 2008 17:47:28, Charlie Kreitzberg <charlie at cognetics.com> wrote:
> It seems that there are actually two conversations going on here: one
> about the Macbook Air and one about the frustration of going around
> in circles as we discuss the definitions of UCD. This comment is
> about the latter.

21 Jan 2008 - 11:21pm
Todd O\'Neill
2007

Not far from where the MBA was displayed was a booth on the MacWorld floor
showing the ModBook, an Apple sanctioned tablet style computer. (
http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/ModBook) Basically, a MacBook with the screen
laid facing up where the keyboard would be.

How much harder would it be to change the hinging on the Air to a single
swivel hinge and let the screen lay on the keyboard? Add in the touch
interface and you have one very cool computer. Not for designers. For people
who need to use computers day to day. And if AIR can couple with an optical
drive on another computer what stops it from coupling with say, Apple TV to
watch a rented movie?

Hmmm?

Todd O'Neill
San Antonio, TX
Doing Media blog
http://www.doingmedia.net
oneill.todd at gmail.com

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