Defining UCD (and other things)

17 Jan 2008 - 11:38am
6 years ago
106 replies
1514 reads
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

Charlie said:

"Well, if people are interested in collaborating on some of these
definitions, I would be happy to try and coordinate."

He also suggested a wiki as the tool of choice, which is a good idea. If
IxDA has a Basecamp account, though, it might be prudent to compile a short
list of people to include in a BC project, who can use a Writeboard to
create these definitions and then toss them out to the list for feedback.

Our definitions should go beyond UCD. Should also include ACD, genius design
(likely a recap of Saffer's original definition, which is often
misinterpreted or otherwise abused), and other processes/approaches. Perhaps
the very act of defining these terms will help IxDA gain more widespread
respect from the larger community.

Can the IxDA board please speak up? How might we go about doing this?

--
-Robert Hoekman, Jr.-
CEO / Principal Experience Designer
Miskeeto, LLC — www.miskeeto.com

Comments

17 Jan 2008 - 4:51pm
Joseph Selbie
2007

I just wanted add my plea to the board to get behind this in some way. I
would be more than happy to help out if my help were needed or wanted. But
mostly I would love to see this done.

Not only might we be able to come up with agreed upon
frameworks/hierarchies/definitions, but we might also be able to correlate
titles to practices.

I agree with Robert that this could "...help IxDA gain more widespread
respect from the larger community."

Joseph Selbie
Founder, CEO Tristream
Web Application Design
http://www.tristream.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Robert
Hoekman, Jr.
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 8:38 AM
To: IxDA
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Defining UCD (and other things)

Charlie said:

"Well, if people are interested in collaborating on some of these
definitions, I would be happy to try and coordinate."

He also suggested a wiki as the tool of choice, which is a good idea. If
IxDA has a Basecamp account, though, it might be prudent to compile a short
list of people to include in a BC project, who can use a Writeboard to
create these definitions and then toss them out to the list for feedback.

Our definitions should go beyond UCD. Should also include ACD, genius design
(likely a recap of Saffer's original definition, which is often
misinterpreted or otherwise abused), and other processes/approaches. Perhaps
the very act of defining these terms will help IxDA gain more widespread
respect from the larger community.

Can the IxDA board please speak up? How might we go about doing this?

--
-Robert Hoekman, Jr.-
CEO / Principal Experience Designer
Miskeeto, LLC - www.miskeeto.com
________________________________________________________________
*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/

________________________________________________________________
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To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
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17 Jan 2008 - 4:56pm
Nasir Barday
2006

IxDA does have a Basecamp, but it's used for planning, organizing, and
otherwise running the organization. The best place for a definitions Wiki
would something on the public website. Perhaps it makes sense to put
definitions like this on Wikipedia, so they are more widely publicized, e.g.
via Google searches?

Or are you suggesting a staging area for people to reach consensus before
releasing to the world?

I agree that a good start would be the definitions of the various processes
from Dan Saffer's book.

- Nasir

17 Jan 2008 - 5:36pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> Perhaps it makes sense to put definitions like this on Wikipedia, so they
> are more widely publicized, e.g. via Google searches?

Actually, I'm thinking more that the Wikipedia entry should reference the
IxDA definition. IxDA should be the reputable and authoritative source for
these definitions.

Or are you suggesting a staging area for people to reach consensus before
> releasing to the world?

1) Use Basecamp/Writeboard to collaborate on definitions between a few
people from this list who want to do so
2) "Beta test" the definitions by soliciting feedback from this list
3) Finalize and post on the IxDA site
4) Promote the new "standard" definitions to the larger community

I agree that a good start would be the definitions of the various processes
> from Dan Saffer's book.

Perhaps, but I was only referencing his definition of "genius design". As I
recall, he coined the term (unless I missed this elsewhere).

-r-

18 Jan 2008 - 2:08am
Nikolas
2008

Fantastic idea Rob. I've been reading this list quietly for a while
and must say we are fortunate to have such an active community. Such
a project fits perfect with the goals of the organization (see below)
and would empower the community to drive even more value. I think a
public wiki is the end goal for this project, I agree that Basecamp
would be nice just to help organize us getting to that point.

IxDA Goals (from A Brief History of the Interaction Design
Association)
- Helping practitioners understand how design of behavior fits into
existing design and development processes
- Helping practitioners provide the highest possible value to
stakeholders and users
- Helping to foster a vibrant community and to facilitate knowledge
exchange between members
- Empowering and inspiring practitioners to discover, innovate,
mentor, and evangelize the process, attributes, and results of IxD

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

18 Jan 2008 - 2:40pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hey gang,
I would recommend strongly staying away from Basecamp for this
project. This is something that if not immediately you will want to
make public/transparent and inclusive within the same infrastructure.
Also, basecamp resources are more costly than web resources like a
wiki.

Before I/we suggest we open a new wiki on this topic right away, I
want to check with someone who was spearheading a similar initiative
with which he was going to use a wiki for.

I do think that doing this as openly and transparently as possible
would be in the spirit of this community.

More to come soon.

Thanx to all who expressed interest in doing this.

IxDA is an initiative-based organization which has gained more
advancement from the efforts of individual initiative than through
mass coordinated volunteership. this seems to fit that model really
well.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

18 Jan 2008 - 3:08pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I do think that doing this as openly and transparently as possible
> would be in the spirit of this community.

Glad to see some support from the board. Thanks, David.

I think it makes more sense to keep the "team" of moderators for this
conversation small. I'm all for transparency, hence the suggestion to put
definitions out to the larger list for feedback and such before finalizing,
but it would be prudent to keep the group of people heading up the
initiative small. As we all know, the more people involved in a project, the
more likely it becomes a chaotic mess. We need to treat this like a software
project, where a team puts something together and then holds a public beta.

A landing page that is visible to the public is fine—I just think that only
a few people should be enabled to write and edit until we get a good
definition for the IxDA site. We need a small group of people to filter the
community's feedback into a solid set of definitions. If everyone can write
and edit, we'll never get anywhere.

Backpack would probably be better suited for this, as you can create a page
that only certain people can edit, but everyone can see. We could set up a
free account and be done in a few days. No need to complicate matters.

If the Board holds too tight a grip on the tools and process, you could end
up with a revolt. :)

Ah, heck. I'll just go set it up and spearhead it on my own. Better than
spending a week figuring out how to figure it out.

-r-

18 Jan 2008 - 3:17pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Hi Robert,

We can easily create a wiki or blog for you that you can do whatever
you like with. We would appreciate that initiatives that are done in
the ixDA name are kept under the ixda.org domain whether totally
transparent or partially transparent.

If you want to completely open source this project and keep it
organizationally agnostic, then totally go for it!
Maybe UXNet might be the right angle to go for this, since this isn't
directly about IxD the way you titled it anyway.

BTW, we will be having a new board, larger, more energized and well
fresher, being announced on Saturday the 9th at the conference, so by
no means don't take the board's silence on this thread as anything
other than well, We are 10' high buried under the conference right now
and also don't want to take away too much thunder from the new board
coming in. We don't want to leave them an inadvertant Somalia or
anything like that. ;)

-- dave

On Jan 18, 2008 3:08 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
>
>
> > I do think that doing this as openly and transparently as possible
> > would be in the spirit of this community.
>
> Glad to see some support from the board. Thanks, David.
>
> I think it makes more sense to keep the "team" of moderators for this
> conversation small. I'm all for transparency, hence the suggestion to put
> definitions out to the larger list for feedback and such before finalizing,
> but it would be prudent to keep the group of people heading up the
> initiative small. As we all know, the more people involved in a project, the
> more likely it becomes a chaotic mess. We need to treat this like a software
> project, where a team puts something together and then holds a public beta.
>
> A landing page that is visible to the public is fine—I just think that only
> a few people should be enabled to write and edit until we get a good
> definition for the IxDA site. We need a small group of people to filter the
> community's feedback into a solid set of definitions. If everyone can write
> and edit, we'll never get anywhere.
>
> Backpack would probably be better suited for this, as you can create a page
> that only certain people can edit, but everyone can see. We could set up a
> free account and be done in a few days. No need to complicate matters.
>
> If the Board holds too tight a grip on the tools and process, you could end
> up with a revolt. :)
>
> Ah, heck. I'll just go set it up and spearhead it on my own. Better than
> spending a week figuring out how to figure it out.
>
> -r-
>

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

18 Jan 2008 - 3:21pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> We can easily create a wiki or blog for you that you can do whatever
> you like with. We would appreciate that initiatives that are done in
> the ixDA name are kept under the ixda.org domain whether totally
> transparent or partially transparent.

Glad to hear it. Well, let's go for it then! I'm happy to head things up if
you like. Let me know how I can help get the ball rolling.

Now, volunteers to play "moderator/author"? Who's in?

-r-

18 Jan 2008 - 3:32pm
Joseph Selbie
2007

"Now, volunteers to play "moderator/author"? Who's in?"

Consider me volunteered!

Joseph Selbie
Founder and CEO, Tristream
Web Application Design
http://www.tristream.com

18 Jan 2008 - 3:34pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I'm in...

On Friday, January 18, 2008, at 03:21PM, "Robert Hoekman, Jr." <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
>> We can easily create a wiki or blog for you that you can do whatever
>> you like with. We would appreciate that initiatives that are done in
>> the ixDA name are kept under the ixda.org domain whether totally
>> transparent or partially transparent.
>
>
>Glad to hear it. Well, let's go for it then! I'm happy to head things up if
>you like. Let me know how I can help get the ball rolling.
>
>Now, volunteers to play "moderator/author"? Who's in?
>
>-r-
>________________________________________________________________
>*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
>
>

18 Jan 2008 - 3:53pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

I'll keep a list of volunteers and contact you all in a day or so, once
everyone's had a shot to speak up. In the meantime, please continue!

-r-

18 Jan 2008 - 4:33pm
White, Jeff
2007

Please include me on your list.

Thanks,
Jeff

On Jan 18, 2008 3:53 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. <robert at rhjr.net> wrote:
> I'll keep a list of volunteers and contact you all in a day or so, once
> everyone's had a shot to speak up. In the meantime, please continue!
>
>
> -r-
> ________________________________________________________________
> *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
>

18 Jan 2008 - 4:51pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> If you want to completely open source this project and keep it
> organizationally agnostic, then totally go for it!

Actually, since you guys are buried with the conference, let's work out a
deal. I'll head this up externally (through Miskeeto's Basecamp acct) so you
don't have to do anything, post definitions to the list as they're completed
for feedback and revision, and then hand them off to the Board once we have
finals.

All you'd have to do then is post them to the IxDA site.

This means everything will be done outside of the Board's control (though, I
can certainly include Board members in the project so you can keep tabs on
things if you like), so I want to make sure the Board will be willing to
*use* these definitions once we complete them.

Thoughts?

-r-

18 Jan 2008 - 5:40pm
Nicholas Iozzo
2007

I assume the question was to the IxDA list at large, so I will respond.

I think from a high-level point of view, your process is good. But I would argue, we plan on several review steps prior to this point. It will not be enough to passively hope folks provide feedback along the way. And the final outcome of this is not about the board agreeing to the definitions, it is about the community at large actually using them when they talk to others outside IxDA

Off the top of my head, I see a few key steps along the way where we seek out feedback when:
1) We identify scope (those terms we will define)
2) We have a first draft which may not have a candidate definition. But it does contain many of the most common definitions used and summarizes all of the issues needing to be resolved when nailing it down.
3) We have a draft with a candidate definition
4) Finalize the definitions.

I also believe the goal should not be in creating a "Webster's" like definition. I think it would be better to model it after the Oxford English Dictionary*. e.g. contain the definition of the term as well as a reasonable amount of research to justify the definition. I think this would help make sure we, as IxDA, contribute something new to this endeavor that others before us may not have.

I have never been on a standards committee, but I think we could look at some of their practices. They manage to get buy-in from large competitive entities. We should be able to learn from some of their practices but avoid their pitfalls.

* I would l highly recommend the book "The Professor and the Madman" great history of the origins of the OED. http://www.amazon.com/Professor-Madman-Insanity-English-Dictionary/dp/006099486X

Nick Iozzo
Principal User Experience Architect

tandemseven

847.452.7442 mobile

niozzo at tandemseven.com
http://www.tandemseven.com/

From: Robert Hoekman, Jr.
Sent: Fri 1/18/2008 3:51 PM
To: David Malouf
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Defining UCD (and other things)

> If you want to completely open source this project and keep it
> organizationally agnostic, then totally go for it!

Actually, since you guys are buried with the conference, let's work out a
deal. I'll head this up externally (through Miskeeto's Basecamp acct) so you
don't have to do anything, post definitions to the list as they're completed
for feedback and revision, and then hand them off to the Board once we have
finals.

All you'd have to do then is post them to the IxDA site.

This means everything will be done outside of the Board's control (though, I
can certainly include Board members in the project so you can keep tabs on
things if you like), so I want to make sure the Board will be willing to
*use* these definitions once we complete them.

Thoughts?

-r-
________________________________________________________________
*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

18 Jan 2008 - 6:14pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I think from a high-level point of view, your process is good. But I would
> argue, we plan on several review steps prior to this point. It will not be
> enough to passively hope folks provide feedback along the way.
>

I highly doubt anyone on this list will "passively" provide feedback. :)

How do you propose we acquire this feedback if not through this list?

And the final outcome of this is not about the board agreeing to the
> definitions, it is about the community at large actually using them when
> they talk to others outside IxDA
>

Of course, but putting it on the IxDA site is key to this effort. Part of
the goal is to build up IxDA's credibility, so it becomes as authoritative
and meaningful as other similar groups, such as AIGA. If we're creating the
definitions (and really, who would be more qualified?) as part of IxDA, then
we should use the opportunity to improve the IxDA reputation and brand.

Saying you're a member of IxDA should mean something to other designers. It
should mean you're part of a group of people who are passionate about their
work, to helping others, and to advancing the profession.

Right now, I don't know anyone outside of this list that has even heard of
IxDA.

1) We identify scope (those terms we will define)
>

UCD, ACD, and genius design are the whole list at the moment, but I'm sure
other things will come up. I don't see a need to restrict it up front beyond
limiting it to design-related definitions.

2) We have a first draft which *may* not have a candidate definition. But it
> does contain many of the most common definitions used and summarizes all of
> the issues needing to be resolved when nailing it down.
>

First draft should be a new definition based on discussion about existing
definitions. Why not start with a candidate definition? I'm not saying it'll
fly on the first try, only that we should put forth something that attempts
to meet its goal rather than burn time on a hybrid of everything else
already out there.

I think it would be better to model it after the Oxford English Dictionary*.
> e.g. contain the definition of the term as well as a reasonable amount of
> research to justify the definition.
>

I agree that research should go into the decision-making process, but
elaborate on why you think it should be included in the definition itself?

-r-

18 Jan 2008 - 7:16pm
M. Jackson Wilkinson
2008

I certainly volunteer to help with this as well.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

18 Jan 2008 - 8:36pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 18, 2008, at 3:14 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

> Of course, but putting it on the IxDA site is key to this effort.
> Part of
> the goal is to build up IxDA's credibility, so it becomes as
> authoritative
> and meaningful as other similar groups, such as AIGA. If we're
> creating the
> definitions (and really, who would be more qualified?) as part of
> IxDA, then
> we should use the opportunity to improve the IxDA reputation and
> brand.

One thing to consider would be to get a small set of very high level
issues out of the way first before digging in too deeply. A least as
defined by the IxDA Board of Directors as a set of decisions to use
as a broad framework. A large part of the "creditability" issue,
which is indeed very important for any group like the AIGA or IDSA or
an emerging group like the IxDA to have, is exactly why do you exist?
Why should someone in any organization pay money for your work? Why
are you even needed? And why not use someone else from a different
organization with a similar skill set?

People who consider themselves part of the IDSA don't largely
consider themselves the kind of designer that would want an AIGA
membership and vice versa. (Sure, it happens, but being a graphic
designer is reasonably different than being an industrial designer
for most people.) Why? Because the larger aspect of what an
industrial does versus a graphic designer is reasonably distinct and
rich. And now a lot of people who write the checks have the concept
of what kind of person they should try to hire given the kind of
thing they need designed.

To me, I think the IxDA has to get an agreed scope of what the work
entails. And to ask yourselves is that "unique" to justify your
existence in the first place.

I personally think the digital revolution creates a digital designer.
The key aspect to digital products is the need for code and software
at the basic level. Software is main secret sauce, and how that
software is used either on its own or with hardware is what make
digital design possible. Further, digital is the unique thing in all
work that requires a rich and intricate back and forth to occur
between a product and the person using it. (Which is why I think
interaction designers largely get their start in technology centered
products like software.) Digital is what makes it all possible
between people and products to the degree it requires a person to
focus on the design of that part of a larger product. And digital as
an integral part of the skill set needed to do the work is what makes
it unique and distinct from a group like the IDSA or AIGA.

So why not embrace digital, even at the exclusion of other aspects of
what may be possible with "interaction" design? That would be the
direction I would favor, for reasons I've stated in this list too
many times to repeat here.

If "interaction" is defined as not requiring a digital component, I'm
of the opinion the IxDA will fade away in the future as it gets
folded into an organization like the IDSA, which is obviously far
more along, has many more resources and is better suited to help
people to get involved with a broader scope of "interaction" work
that doesn't require a digital component. However, the digital piece
is what makes someone who does this work viable as their own entity
inside any corporation, and digital is already so prevalent that it
won't be going away, ever.

I know there are people out there who believe interaction design can
move to include "services" design. It's clear I don't prescribe to
that direction, which is why I think the IxDA needs to get some
clarity here and start to draw that line in the sand at a high level
to provide broad guidance.

I also know that I would drop my activity in the IxDA if the reason
for being a member in that group is to be something other than a
designer who works on the design of digital products.

That's my two cents. I'd be happy to lend my thoughts on any
definitions for the IxDA to be considered or ignored, but if the
organization is going away from digital and trying to be broader,
then I for one would be very interested in knowing that sooner than
later. I'm sure there are others like me out there that feel the same
way. (In fact I know there are as they always tell me privately but
let me take the heat on the list.)

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

18 Jan 2008 - 8:59pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

I'll be happy to help, of course.

Here are a few thoughts:

- Before we get started re-inventing the wheel, let's find out what
others have said. If the desire is to start with a definition of
interaction design then let's start with the definitions that others
have written.

- I think that focused discussion is an important part of this type
of initiative. I am a great fan of wikis but there is a lot of value
in talking about the issues -- not just revision.

- some of the value here is in the establishment of relationship
among the players. Working on a project is a good way to get to know
each other and learn from each other.

As a final point, I am finding this list rather awkward to work with.
I am flooded by emails and then have no way to get an overview of the
discussion. We are interaction designers and should be thinking about
how to advance the state of collaborative knowledge generation.

Would people be interested in actually talking about this? I'd be
happy to sponsor a conference call if we can find a common time,
perhaps with an associated webcast. Might be interested to chat for
an hour together and see how that works.

Charlie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

18 Jan 2008 - 9:10pm
Carol J. Smith
2007

Hello all,

The UPA has been working on a project to define a Usability Body of
Knowledge (BoK) since 2004. You can review a definition for UCD and many
other common terms at http://www.usabilitybok.org/ in the Glossary section.
We also have sections for Methods, Design and other subjects.

We have a volunteer group of 280+ people and would welcome more content and
feedback. We are currently utilizing a wiki as a workspace to create more
content. Not the easiest solution, but it does allow a lot of people to
collaborate on the project from around the world.

If you are interested in volunteering please contact me.

Carol Smith
carologic at gmail.com
UPA BoK Working Group

18 Jan 2008 - 10:45pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Jan 18, 2008, at 5:36 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> I know there are people out there who believe interaction design can
> move to include "services" design. It's clear I don't prescribe to
> that direction, which is why I think the IxDA needs to get some
> clarity here and start to draw that line in the sand at a high level
> to provide broad guidance.

The reason this is ties into what you think is the core of IxD:
technology and software. Interaction designers didn't get involved in
services until there was technology there for us to be involved in.
When human cashiers did all the check-out at the grocery stores there
weren't any interaction designers. Add a self-checkout and voila, you
get interaction designers (hopefully).

We're foolish and short-sighted if we think that all of our work in
the future will be traditional software and websites.

Dan

19 Jan 2008 - 12:41am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 18, 2008, at 7:45 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> We're foolish and short-sighted if we think that all of our work in
> the future will be traditional software and websites.

First off, I said "digital" which at this point encompasses software
and such, but will become much more. (Your whole Charmr project is
exactly along these lines.) But digital is just that, anything with a
digital piece. If you had a bathroom mirror with a digital interface
that did things like track medication intake and showed me what to
take and had a multi-touch screen built-in so I could do things like
watch CNN while shaving in the morning, that would easily qualify by
my definition. A lot of things you see in a movie like Minority
Report qualify that are not traditional software as it exists today.
The future is going to be digital, so by my definition, the
opportunity is quite large.

Second, "interaction" that does not contain a digital component is an
entirely different animal than interaction that does, especially
because often it gets into issues that don't exist in the digital
part of the equation. I'm suggesting that one will always be unique
and needed now that the digital revolution is in full swing while the
other is something else entirely that will more than likely get
merged with other already established design practices or serve to
only dilute the definition of the design practice, something which
can hurt credibility of the those trying to practice the profession.

So I hope that clears that up.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

19 Jan 2008 - 1:13am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 18, 2008, at 9:41 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> I'm suggesting that one will always be unique
> and needed now that the digital revolution is in full swing while the
> other is something else entirely that will more than likely get
> merged with other already established design practices or serve to
> only dilute the definition of the design practice, something which
> can hurt credibility of the those trying to practice the profession.

Let me rephrase a bit:

I'm suggesting that one (the digital one) will always be unique and
needed now that the digital revolution is in full swing. The other
one (the broader one some people on this list suggest is the larger
goal of interaction design) is something else entirely that in my
opinion will get merged into another already established design
practice. If not, the broader one would only serve to dilute the
definition of the digital practice, something which I feel would hurt
the credibility of those trying to practice what I personally think
the dominate case: digital product design.

So... let me be even more clear... I personally would appreciate if
the IxDA would survey its members and find out how many people
actually practice design on anything other than digital products, be
it software, web site, etc. I would be shocked if the number were
over 10%, and am willing to bet it's much lower than 10%. If the
number is indeed pretty low, which is my unscientific guess, I think
that for the IxDA to attempt to broaden its definition beyond a clear
need for digital designers in the world would actually wind up doing
more damage than good. And even if the IxDA wants to be more than
digital, I think it's shortsighted to try and get ahead of curve when
even in 2008 I find so many people who don't have the skills, craft
or understanding to do the large majority of design work for current
digital products.

Strategically speaking, I think it would make more sense to create a
sidegroup or SIG inside the IxDA to attack the broader definition
portion of interaction and take a longer time defining that, while
focusing all the current attention on establishing the current
practice and organization for the very large need we have right at
this moment: a real digital design organization that supports people
who make digital products, helps them learn more craft and skills,
works with the universities to create better educational curriculum
for it, and establishes the practice of digital design so it becomes
a high level, integral component of the corporate world.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

19 Jan 2008 - 3:17am
Dave Malouf
2005

Andrei,
I cannot think of any part of interaction design (NOT User Experience
Design) that would not contain a micro-chip at some level of the
equation these days.

The fact that I feel equally strongly that mentioning the word
digital in an organizational definition is unnecessarily limiting. By
its very nature IxD is form agnostic. I should be able to move between
designing the entire interface of a mobile computer system
(http://tinyurl.com/2ltawl - Motorola Wearable Enterprise Computer)
-- the software and the outside interfaces and then also move on to
designing iTunes.

Now if in your world all aspects of this design eco-system fit under
digital, then great. But when you say digital, and then start talking
about #'s of people doing web/software it sounds like you mean
digital = software and wouldn't even include things like tangible
interfaces, VUIs, location-based interactions, ambient interactions,
etc.

But this is why the word "digital" is so unnecessary if not
unnecessarily divisive. We can be a larger and more powerful group if
we include more designers than exclude.

And you know, you may be right. Maybe we will be merged into a bigger
"D"esign organization like ICSID, which actually just merged with
ICONOGRAD to form an even bigger design alliance called IDA (w/
fashion design in there as well).

But that is just because as you keep raising the lens to higher
altitudes the differences fall away. I would much rather have SIGs
within IxDA on web, on even enterprise web and hardware design and
services (I like the POS system example, Dan) then to limit the
nature of interaction design is at a foundational level.

Now, I do not make the decision for the organization except through
my own voice. I think it would be sad to create an IxDA that
wouldn't really include everything, b/c I think there is so much
that web designers can and should learn from the hardware IxDs who
quite frankly have been doing IxD a lot longer (having coined the
term in the 80's).

A great example of IxD work that I use in my history of IxD slides
where digital isn't there, is the behavioral and system design of
the communication system between the bridge on a large ship and the
engine room. There is a merging of voice, graphics, and tangible
interfaces throughout, yet not a single microchip or transistor until
about 50 years ago.

The rules of IxD that you used in building Photoshop & the suite of
graphics and communications tools under the Adobe banner are the same
ones used by those who designed that system at an Human
Factors/Ergonomics level, but also at the level of behaviors to meet
goals and motivations.

Buxton's work on the Portfolio Board (I think I have the name wrong)
is all about taking analog systems of a design studio and moving them
to the digital. But the analog systems are still strong in his model.

If your vision of digital can include the design of a Razor as well
as the design of Songza it is so broad that it well, is unnecessary,
so why focus on it at all? It just creates limits that may not
(probably won't) be there as we move forward, or even if it is other
new divisions will occur that are even more important. But
"behavior" & "interaction" will always be there. I.e. what
happens when digital gets replaced with biological? Will the
behavioral and interactive theories loose their core essence? Sure,
they will evolve, but there will be behavior at the core. Technology
distinctions like "digital" are inconsequential to IxD, so is
focusing on them.

-- dave

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

19 Jan 2008 - 5:39am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 19, 2008, at 12:17 AM, dave malouf wrote:

> The fact that I feel equally strongly that mentioning the word
> digital in an organizational definition is unnecessarily limiting. By
> its very nature IxD is form agnostic.

I'm not so sure. How can IxDA be form agnostic if one product has a
digital component (an iPhone) and another one might not (a standard
wall phone)? The inherent "interaction" of the two is significantly
different, due to the distinction of the digital component and what
that component provides the designer of the product to do. (For this
example, pretend the phone is more like the one you used back in the
1970s or even 1980s.) If the interaction were similar but not
distinct enough, I guess I would concede the point, but the two
things are radically different in how people use them and how they
are designed.

> I should be able to move between
> designing the entire interface of a mobile computer system
> (http://tinyurl.com/2ltawl - Motorola Wearable Enterprise Computer)
> -- the software and the outside interfaces and then also move on to
> designing iTunes.

Both of those examples are digital, aren't they? I think the question
is can you go from designing the interface of iTunes to redoing the
flow of how FedEx operates door to door package delivery and
services. Or how you can move from working on a mobile computing
system to changing the way medical services are offered to the public
via insurance companies or such.

> Now if in your world all aspects of this design eco-system fit under
> digital, then great. But when you say digital, and then start talking
> about #'s of people doing web/software it sounds like you mean
> digital = software and wouldn't even include things like tangible
> interfaces, VUIs, location-based interactions, ambient interactions,
> etc.

I do mean digital equals software. Or even more fundamental: code.
Anything that requires code, logic, interaction, presentation, etc.
Digital requires a microchip in my view, and needs code to be useful,
or its just expensive sand.

> But that is just because as you keep raising the lens to higher
> altitudes the differences fall away. I would much rather have SIGs
> within IxDA on web, on even enterprise web and hardware design and
> services (I like the POS system example, Dan) then to limit the
> nature of interaction design is at a foundational level.

Understood. But if you get too broad, how is that helpful in the
trenches? What do you gain by being broad, especially at this stage
of the game?

> Now, I do not make the decision for the organization except through
> my own voice. I think it would be sad to create an IxDA that
> wouldn't really include everything, b/c I think there is so much
> that web designers can and should learn from the hardware IxDs who
> quite frankly have been doing IxD a lot longer (having coined the
> term in the 80's).

What is "everything?" You keep saying that, but I honestly doubt it
really is "everything." I'm pretty sure it's a list of things. In
that list of things, the question becomes what is useful and what is
not as useful for a design practice. And if the useful is more
digital, why shy away from it? If its not, so be it! At least we'd know.

> A great example of IxD work that I use in my history of IxD slides
> where digital isn't there, is the behavioral and system design of
> the communication system between the bridge on a large ship and the
> engine room. There is a merging of voice, graphics, and tangible
> interfaces throughout, yet not a single microchip or transistor until
> about 50 years ago.

> The rules of IxD that you used in building Photoshop & the suite of
> graphics and communications tools under the Adobe banner are the same
> ones used by those who designed that system at an Human
> Factors/Ergonomics level, but also at the level of behaviors to meet
> goals and motivations.

You'd have to list out what you think those rules are. I know exactly
how I went about the design of the Adobe common interface to form the
basis of the Creative Suite way back then, and how I made decisions,
and what criteria I used, and how I could only do certain things
given company politics, technology, constraints, shipping schedules,
etc. I'm the one who defined it after all. But unless you list out
what rules you think I used and the rules used in your system deign
example, I can't comment on the relevance of your point yet. It might
instructive to follow through on that to see where it leads us.

> If your vision of digital can include the design of a Razor as well
> as the design of Songza it is so broad that it well, is unnecessary,
> so why focus on it at all?

The Razor or Razr? (I assume you mean the phone, right?) If you mean
the form factor and industrial design of the Razr, then I'm not
qualified to do that. I'd have to go back to school or least out to
the shed and get my hands dirty building tangible things again like I
used to when I did set and production design in my younger days. But
if you mean anything that has to do with how the software or digital
aspects of the Razr work, then absolutely. This includes finding ways
to work with the hardware components that would drive interacting
with the underlying software or code.

And that's largely the distinction I make. As long as it touches the
code portion of the product, thats where I think it becomes digital
design, interaction design, interface design, or whatever we all
finally wind up calling it.

> It just creates limits that may not
> (probably won't) be there as we move forward, or even if it is other
> new divisions will occur that are even more important.

What you call limits, I see as definition. I find that with
definition comes clarity. With clarity comes a myriad of
possibilities of things I can do or strive towards achieving. It's
not a limitation to me, it *guidance.* The very thing I lacked
getting into this field and for which I had to find my own way since
no one else was defining it very well. (And yes, that makes me grumpy
sometimes. Okay... it makes me grumpy all of the time.)

> But "behavior" & "interaction" will always be there. I.e. what
> happens when digital gets replaced with biological?

You tell me. I imagine I'll be too old to know or care when that day
arrives. I'll leave the evolutionary path of the profession to those
it will impact the most, which is certainly not me. And I'm not sure
what to do at all with biological as that scares the pants off me
personally. It's outside of my conceptual reality.

> Technology distinctions like "digital" are inconsequential to IxD,
> so is
> focusing on them.

Respectfully, I disagree. Design -- when it comes to earning a
paycheck -- is not an academic exercise. It has specific processes,
specific deliverables, specific practices, and specific ideas by
those who practice it. It's useful to know the distinction between
industrial design and graphic design, if for anything to figure out
which direction you might want to take your career.

I think distinctions are extraordinarily useful in helping one to
create definitions of how to do one's work day to day, or how to
strive for career goals knowing what specifically the profession is
at a more refined level. I don't find them restrictive, or
constraining, or whatever. I personally find them freeing as they
provide the foundation on which to build a body of work.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

19 Jan 2008 - 9:24am
Mark Schraad
2006

So - if I am designing the control mechanisms for an elevator that is
electric and mechanical - I am not an interaction designer? I does
seem odd to shift the definition from what we do, to what technology
or medium we do it with.

Mark

On Jan 19, 2008, at 5:39 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> On Jan 19, 2008, at 12:17 AM, dave malouf wrote:
>
>> The fact that I feel equally strongly that mentioning the word
>> digital in an organizational definition is unnecessarily limiting. By
>> its very nature IxD is form agnostic.
>
> I'm not so sure. How can IxDA be form agnostic if one product has a
> digital component (an iPhone) and another one might not (a standard
> wall phone)? The inherent "interaction" of the two is significantly
> different, due to the distinction of the digital component and what
> that component provides the designer of the product to do. (For this
> example, pretend the phone is more like the one you used back in the
> 1970s or even 1980s.) If the interaction were similar but not
> distinct enough, I guess I would concede the point, but the two
> things are radically different in how people use them and how they
> are designed.
>
>> I should be able to move between
>> designing the entire interface of a mobile computer system
>> (http://tinyurl.com/2ltawl - Motorola Wearable Enterprise Computer)
>> -- the software and the outside interfaces and then also move on to
>> designing iTunes.
>
> Both of those examples are digital, aren't they? I think the question
> is can you go from designing the interface of iTunes to redoing the
> flow of how FedEx operates door to door package delivery and
> services. Or how you can move from working on a mobile computing
> system to changing the way medical services are offered to the public
> via insurance companies or such.
>
>> Now if in your world all aspects of this design eco-system fit under
>> digital, then great. But when you say digital, and then start talking
>> about #'s of people doing web/software it sounds like you mean
>> digital = software and wouldn't even include things like tangible
>> interfaces, VUIs, location-based interactions, ambient interactions,
>> etc.
>
> I do mean digital equals software. Or even more fundamental: code.
> Anything that requires code, logic, interaction, presentation, etc.
> Digital requires a microchip in my view, and needs code to be useful,
> or its just expensive sand.
>
>> But that is just because as you keep raising the lens to higher
>> altitudes the differences fall away. I would much rather have SIGs
>> within IxDA on web, on even enterprise web and hardware design and
>> services (I like the POS system example, Dan) then to limit the
>> nature of interaction design is at a foundational level.
>
> Understood. But if you get too broad, how is that helpful in the
> trenches? What do you gain by being broad, especially at this stage
> of the game?
>
>> Now, I do not make the decision for the organization except through
>> my own voice. I think it would be sad to create an IxDA that
>> wouldn't really include everything, b/c I think there is so much
>> that web designers can and should learn from the hardware IxDs who
>> quite frankly have been doing IxD a lot longer (having coined the
>> term in the 80's).
>
> What is "everything?" You keep saying that, but I honestly doubt it
> really is "everything." I'm pretty sure it's a list of things. In
> that list of things, the question becomes what is useful and what is
> not as useful for a design practice. And if the useful is more
> digital, why shy away from it? If its not, so be it! At least we'd
> know.
>
>> A great example of IxD work that I use in my history of IxD slides
>> where digital isn't there, is the behavioral and system design of
>> the communication system between the bridge on a large ship and the
>> engine room. There is a merging of voice, graphics, and tangible
>> interfaces throughout, yet not a single microchip or transistor until
>> about 50 years ago.
>
>> The rules of IxD that you used in building Photoshop & the suite of
>> graphics and communications tools under the Adobe banner are the same
>> ones used by those who designed that system at an Human
>> Factors/Ergonomics level, but also at the level of behaviors to meet
>> goals and motivations.
>
> You'd have to list out what you think those rules are. I know exactly
> how I went about the design of the Adobe common interface to form the
> basis of the Creative Suite way back then, and how I made decisions,
> and what criteria I used, and how I could only do certain things
> given company politics, technology, constraints, shipping schedules,
> etc. I'm the one who defined it after all. But unless you list out
> what rules you think I used and the rules used in your system deign
> example, I can't comment on the relevance of your point yet. It might
> instructive to follow through on that to see where it leads us.
>
>> If your vision of digital can include the design of a Razor as well
>> as the design of Songza it is so broad that it well, is unnecessary,
>> so why focus on it at all?
>
> The Razor or Razr? (I assume you mean the phone, right?) If you mean
> the form factor and industrial design of the Razr, then I'm not
> qualified to do that. I'd have to go back to school or least out to
> the shed and get my hands dirty building tangible things again like I
> used to when I did set and production design in my younger days. But
> if you mean anything that has to do with how the software or digital
> aspects of the Razr work, then absolutely. This includes finding ways
> to work with the hardware components that would drive interacting
> with the underlying software or code.
>
> And that's largely the distinction I make. As long as it touches the
> code portion of the product, thats where I think it becomes digital
> design, interaction design, interface design, or whatever we all
> finally wind up calling it.
>
>> It just creates limits that may not
>> (probably won't) be there as we move forward, or even if it is other
>> new divisions will occur that are even more important.
>
> What you call limits, I see as definition. I find that with
> definition comes clarity. With clarity comes a myriad of
> possibilities of things I can do or strive towards achieving. It's
> not a limitation to me, it *guidance.* The very thing I lacked
> getting into this field and for which I had to find my own way since
> no one else was defining it very well. (And yes, that makes me grumpy
> sometimes. Okay... it makes me grumpy all of the time.)
>
>> But "behavior" & "interaction" will always be there. I.e. what
>> happens when digital gets replaced with biological?
>
> You tell me. I imagine I'll be too old to know or care when that day
> arrives. I'll leave the evolutionary path of the profession to those
> it will impact the most, which is certainly not me. And I'm not sure
> what to do at all with biological as that scares the pants off me
> personally. It's outside of my conceptual reality.
>
>> Technology distinctions like "digital" are inconsequential to IxD,
>> so is
>> focusing on them.
>
> Respectfully, I disagree. Design -- when it comes to earning a
> paycheck -- is not an academic exercise. It has specific processes,
> specific deliverables, specific practices, and specific ideas by
> those who practice it. It's useful to know the distinction between
> industrial design and graphic design, if for anything to figure out
> which direction you might want to take your career.
>
> I think distinctions are extraordinarily useful in helping one to
> create definitions of how to do one's work day to day, or how to
> strive for career goals knowing what specifically the profession is
> at a more refined level. I don't find them restrictive, or
> constraining, or whatever. I personally find them freeing as they
> provide the foundation on which to build a body of work.
>
>

19 Jan 2008 - 10:56am
Jeff Howard
2004

I think I'm one of the "some people" Andrei refers to. I'd
honestly be surprised if more than a handful of people here see
Interaction Design as extending beyond the digital. If they
occassionally show up I'm sure they quickly get turned away. Such
designers exist, moreso in Europe than in the US, but this isn't
exactly a hospitable environment for their voices. In my experience
the community has been reflexively hostile to anything beyond a
digital worldview, going all the way back to Dan's first Signal
Orange post in 2004.

I'm not really wild about the idea of defining disciplines but if
you're going to do it, it doesn't make sense to base those
definitions on the medium. Constraining interaction design to pixels
and bits is like constraining graphic design to paper and ink or
industrial design to glass and metal. If disciplines were tied to
their history, graphic designers would still be working in
chromolithography.

Graphic design more properly encompasses a world of symbols and
images. Industrial design? Form and mass. Interaction design? Actions
and behaviors. Graphic designers can ply their trade on a letterpress
just as validly as they can with pixels--or with skywriting for that
matter. Subdisciplines can develop. Logo designers and typographers
and poster designers can co-exist without threatening each other
because they're united by a common understanding of the foundation
of graphic design. The medium doesn't define the discipline.

Our discipline revolves around behaviors and actions. It can involve
buying airline tickets at Expedia or buying them from an agent at
SFO. The same thinking that results in customer flows at the iTunes
Music Store can be applied to customer flows at a Virgin Megastore;
working with architects instead of programmers. As a discipline we
need to learn more as we begin to work in different media. The
patterns are out there and have been for years. What kind of spaces
encourage interaction? What kind discourage it? It can be something
as simple as the arrangement of chairs in a schoolroom. Tactics
differ, deliverables differ, but at their core are about designing
useful, usable and desirable interactions for human beings. There's
a case study coming out soon in Design Issues about work Ziba did for
a prototype FedEx store that serves as an excellent example of the
potential for this kind of collaboration.

Does it make sense to try to contain this scope within a single
discussion list? Maybe not. I'm not an industrial designer, but
graphic designers have plenty of specialized places to discuss craft.
It's clear to me that IxDA has become a defacto forum for discussing
matters of software interface design. I've heard the arguments that
interface design is about form and not behavior but to me that's not
compelling. Good interface design encompasses both. The book Tog on
Interface describes a great example of interface design involving a
set of checkboxes that needed to ensure at least one option checked.
It's a fascinating story but the team clearly wrestled with matters
of both form and behavior. So why isn't it an example of interaction
design?

To me, the biggest gulf in our understanding is this: I believe that
interface design differs from interaction design primarily in its
focus on the artifact, regardless of whether that focus is on form or
behavior. It didn't strike me until a few months ago, but when people
on this list talk about behavior, they're almost invariably talking
about the behavior of the artifact, not the human behavior it
facilitates or requires. When the MacOS login box shakes its head
"no" at me, I consider that a great example of interface design,
but not a significant example of interaction design; it's just a
clever animation. Text messaging on the other hand is a phenomenal
example of interaction design. Dead simple interface, especially
before T9 or other type-ahead conventions became common. But
completely unprecedented interactions: Two people communicating
non-verbally in nearly real-time across space and on the go. The
interaction it facilitates is the key to its popularity, not the
interaction with the artifact.

Here's a good shibboleth for recognizing interaction design. Does it
actively change patterns of social behavior? The telephone? The
elevator? Fundamentally reorganizes business. Friendster? Twitter?
Reifies your circle of friends. The post-1972 US presidential primary
process? Crazyness. Starbucks installs WiFi? There you go. Birth
control pills? Absolutely. Recycling? Huge. Adobe invents Postscript?
Revolutionary change. Ebay? Connects and empowers people all over the
globe--regardless of the interface.

I don't remember where I read this recently but during the early
days of electrification, people were always tremendously excited at
the idea. "The electricity is coming," they would say. But
gradually, as electricity became more common it faded into the
background and people began to take it for granted, focusing instead
on the changes it afforded. People will eventually take the ability
to manipulate the digital world for granted. We've got elementary
school children who are becoming progressively more competent authors
in this domain. Today, what we do in the digital medium is incredibly
important. Tomorrow we may wake up with all the cachet of a telegraph
operator. But as long as interaction design is concerned with problems
of timeless human behavior it won't be going anywhere.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

19 Jan 2008 - 2:01pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 19, 2008, at 7:56 AM, Jeff Howard wrote:

> Graphic design more properly encompasses a world of symbols and
> images. Industrial design? Form and mass. Interaction design? Actions
> and behaviors. Graphic designers can ply their trade on a letterpress
> just as validly as they can with pixels--or with skywriting for that
> matter. Subdisciplines can develop. Logo designers and typographers
> and poster designers can co-exist without threatening each other
> because they're united by a common understanding of the foundation
> of graphic design. The medium doesn't define the discipline.

I largely agree with this, and you make a lot of good points.
However, given your example the final creation still defines the
practice, if not the medium. In other words, graphic designers and
industrial designers create things at the end of the day regardless
of medium as you rightly point out. Those creations largely share
common components in some way or another. If interaction design is
only about actions and behaviors, then what is it that you are making
that is tangible at the end of the day? Diagrams or workflow
analysis? If so, that seems to put the interaction designer at an
extremely weak point as those are only definition documents, which
are then often taken out of the hands of the designer when it comes
to execution.

That's probably the biggest point of confusion. Because if what you
make are deliverables that are used only to define the final product,
then what are you making really? And how can you earn the level of
need and respect of the designers that do make things in other
defined fields?

Imagine this for second, even if it seems a little silly. (Or least
forgive me for my preference in television): In the future,
interaction design is a more mainstream profession, and Bravo decides
to create a reality television series called Interact This! built
around the same model as Project Runway. Now imagine how the
interaction designers would operate on such a show for the
challenges. What exactly would they do?

Maybe I'm putting the cart before the horse here, but digital creates
a well rounded place to start to create a definition that is well
scoped. With code, there many specific things you can do that are
high level enough to be used in multiple mediums, as long as there is
a code component. Without digital or code, the variety of things
"interaction" can be is rather broad and not very well defined. It
could literally be almost anything that involves humans, which for
our practical reality is everything.

> To me, the biggest gulf in our understanding is this: I believe that
> interface design differs from interaction design primarily in its
> focus on the artifact, regardless of whether that focus is on form or
> behavior. It didn't strike me until a few months ago, but when people
> on this list talk about behavior, they're almost invariably talking
> about the behavior of the artifact, not the human behavior it
> facilitates or requires. When the MacOS login box shakes its head
> "no" at me, I consider that a great example of interface design,
> but not a significant example of interaction design; it's just a
> clever animation. Text messaging on the other hand is a phenomenal
> example of interaction design. Dead simple interface, especially
> before T9 or other type-ahead conventions became common. But
> completely unprecedented interactions: Two people communicating
> non-verbally in nearly real-time across space and on the go. The
> interaction it facilitates is the key to its popularity, not the
> interaction with the artifact.

I understand you point, but even in this example, what makes text
messaging interaction possible in the first place is a digital
component. That's why I focus on it as a term that's important. While
it's true the interaction is defined by more an analog mode of input
like a mini-QWERTY keyboard and the people who want to communicate
with each other, behind the scenes are all sorts of pieces of code
used to process the input to make the interaction possible. And then
there's the mini-displays that are also driven by code to turn pixels
on and off, and otherwise present information to make the interaction
possible. And the presentation of those pixels is integral to driving
the interaction that exists as well.

I understand there's a core "interaction" between people in the
example, but your text messaging interaction would simply not exist
if code didn't make it possible. So if we define more examples of
what "interaction" design is and discover there are more digital
examples than not, shouldn't that be important? Further, shouldn't
that also be used in helping to define interaction design as distinct
from graphic design and industrial design?

> Here's a good shibboleth for recognizing interaction design. Does it
> actively change patterns of social behavior? The telephone? The
> elevator? Fundamentally reorganizes business. Friendster? Twitter?
> Reifies your circle of friends. The post-1972 US presidential primary
> process? Crazyness. Starbucks installs WiFi? There you go. Birth
> control pills? Absolutely. Recycling? Huge. Adobe invents Postscript?
> Revolutionary change. Ebay? Connects and empowers people all over the
> globe--regardless of the interface.

You are now exemplifying the danger, imho. Once you go so broad like
this, I think practically speaking it's less useful as mans to define
one's career, especially so early in the development of the profession.

I mean... I guess I could do it all, but who has the time?

And fwiw, Paul Rand did a lot more than graphic design. He designed
the IBM Stores, the IBM packaging and the entire IBM purchasing
experience long before Apple did that sort of things as well. Was he
an "experience" designer? Was he more than a graphic designer? Sure,
you could easily call him that, but he was largely a graphic designer
in his approach to craft. More importantly, it took him some thirty
odd years to get to the point in his career where he was given the
money by those that write the checks to do things like create the IBM
purchasing experience. Even more importantly, there aren't going to
be a lot of Paul Rands in the annals of design history. What are the
rest of us supposed to do?

So, would it have helped to call the graphic design field "experience
design" back then given that one of it's main influencers did a lot
more than just make logos or brochures? Obviously, I'm not convinced
that would have helped at all to go "broad" during that point in time.
>

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

19 Jan 2008 - 2:39pm
Joseph Selbie
2007

The answer to the question of how we should define interaction design, from
my point of view, is not so much a matter of what it *could* be, as it is a
matter of what we *want* it to be.

I think we have a big opportunity to clearly and pragmatically establish
interaction design as a major discipline.

Architects "own" the design of buildings.

Industrial designers "own" the design of objects.

I think we should "own" the design of interfaces.

Architects are defined by their medium. Industrial designers are defined by
their medium. And it works well. Sure there are blurry edges, architects
design public spaces, gardens, etc., but still the obvious heart of what
they do is to design buildings.

Also, I'm afraid that our reach will exceed our grasp if we define ourselves
as applicable to all mediums. If we include the interactions that people
have in a retail environment as part of interaction design, then not only do
we stray from the core medium of interfaces, but we also exceed our grasp --
because there is already a strong design specialty that focuses on retail
spaces.

Sure there is some risk in defining ourselves too tightly, so I would
advocate a definition of interface that can evolve forward in time -- but I
also think it needs to be obvious enough that laymen understand it. From my
point of view, that rules out anything that isn't tangible. It must be
touchable, hearable, viewable, etc., and be "something" through which a
single person interacts. Right now, 99% of the things being made that fall
under those criteria are visual, touchable, digital interfaces.

So let's embrace it. Let's own the design of interfaces.

I don't think this implies that interaction is the wrong name for us, and
that we should be called interface designers. After all, architects are not
called buildatechs, nor are industrial designers called object designers.
Architect and industrial designer are simply the names that "stuck" over
time, and which are now commonly accepted to mean what they mean. We can do
the same for interaction design but only -- in my opinion -- if we associate
it clearly with an easily understood medium -- interfaces.

I think we would be missing a big opportunity if our definition becomes too
academic and broad. Like "human factors" or "experience design", interaction
design could become only a conceptual framework that is applicable to almost
anything.

I am advocating a pragmatic, career oriented, business oriented approach and
purpose to IXDA -- which may not be congruent with the overall view -- but I
think may resonate with many people on this list. I would hope this becomes
an important discussion for the board to facilitate.

I envision that a more focused and pragmatic approach (aligning ourselves to
a particular medium) would more easily lead to training, certification,
degrees, etc. just as architecture and industrial design have done. One
needs a rich understanding of one's medium to design to it. Much of the
training to be an architect is about understanding the medium as well as the
process of design.

I think interaction design is at a cross-roads. Does it become an adjunct
discipline that is applicable to many different design processes across many
different media, or does it become focused on one medium and thereby become
a big "D" design discipline.

My $.02 -- or maybe $.04.

Joseph Selbie
Founder, CEO Tristream
Web Application Design

19 Jan 2008 - 11:44am
Pankaj Chawla
2008

On Jan 19, 2008 7:54 PM, Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:
> So - if I am designing the control mechanisms for an elevator that is
> electric and mechanical - I am not an interaction designer? I does
> seem odd to shift the definition from what we do, to what technology
> or medium we do it with.
>
Hi

This is exactly what I asked in my post
http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=24636#24678
as to where exactly is the line when an Industrial Designer becomes and Interaction Designer and vice versa. I guess your control mechanism designer is also trapped within the blurry lines of Industrial and Interaction design. Let me try and elaborate my point of view.

To begin with let me first define what "Interaction" means to me. Interaction is really an exchange of communication between two entities across a medium more specifically an interface. The two entities in most situations will be human-human, human-machine or machine-machine.

The quality of the Interaction between the two entities depends on the quality of the interface-how well its defined and more so how well the two entities understand it. The better the interface better will be the interaction. So that brings in what designers really do. They strive to design the best possible interaction between the two entities which in other words means they strive to create an interface that is as well defined as possible (within the constraints) and more so is understandable by the two entities to start an interaction across it.

Now I will like to take each of the individual design fields and try to define what they do.

Industrial Designer: Their main focus is to design an interface between human and machine where the machine is generally an electrical or mechanical device. And since
there is an interface, there is an interaction. The car driver looking at a speedometer to
read the speed is doing an interaction with the car (asking the car at what speed its going)
where the speedometer is the interface. The guy who is standing inside an elevator is communicating with the elevator through the buttons to tell it where to go and when to stop and the LCD display which the elevator uses to communicate back to the person to tell at which floor the elevator is.

Graphics Designer: Their main focus is to design a visual interface between a human and a machine where the machine generally is a information system displaying some information. The interaction is the exchange of information visually from the graphics display to the human eye. The person browsing a website to buy tickets is interacting with the website and using the graphics (including text) as the interface for communication. Please note, the end result is booking tickets not browsing through some fancy graphical design. Here again since the graphics system is the interface its facilitating the interaction.

Software Designer (Not developer). Their main focus is to design an interface across which code entities (be it functions, objects, classes, operating system with the application) take to each other and exchange data to perform a meaningful task. This really is a case of machine-machine interaction as the interacting objects are two software entities or one software one hardware entity. Again an interface and an interaction across that interface and the interaction is what is of prime importance.

Hardware Designer: Their main focus is to design an interface across two hardware entities say - microprocessor and memory or your laptop and cellphone across bluetooth. Here again there are two entities, one interface and an interaction that between the two entities that needs to be done.

I can go on and on and take each design discipline but every discipline you take has the core focus of creating an interface for an interaction to happen between two entities. The interesting part is that facilitating the interaction is the sole purpose of each design activity and the success of each design activity is gauged by how well the two entities are able to interact using the designed interface. Which in effect means that interaction design is fundamental to each design discipline and not a discipline in itself. Interaction design exists within the context of a design discipline and not standalone. The fact though remains that Interaction design has largely been synonymous with Human-Computer Interaction design and I believe this has been the root cause of all the confusion. We took the fundamental core of all design disciplines and mapped it to the specific design discipline of Human Computer Interaction. No wonder an Industrial Designer comes up and asks why he is any less an Interaction Designer compared to a person designing the website for booking the airline tickets :-)

Cheers
Pankaj

19 Jan 2008 - 5:21pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I think in the end I'm very happy NOT designing things, but rather
I'd be the more influential person designing the ideas and telling
the person who design things what I want them to do and if they
don't get it right, tell them to do it again.

Or ...

Collaborate with experts in form making w/ my expertise in dialog
creation. This is what I do now, and I have to say this sort of
co-designing to me is the model that I would like to see pushed
forward.

Being charge of interaction and form is nice but some subjects are
just more complex and when you are working at that level of
complexity (digital/analog eco-systems and services) its great to
apply design theory and practice in this way.

things are commodities. ideas generate true value.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

19 Jan 2008 - 5:52pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

Hi All:

Some very interesting posts. I have gone through some of the same
agonies over the years. When I joined UPA as an interaction designer
there was a question as to whether interaction design was actually
usability. The reason that this came up was that many of the people
(at that time) were involved in assessing usability rather than
designing for it.

Later, when I was on the UPA Board, I was "VP of Outreach" and
needed to grapple with the question of whether usability was just
about software and digital devices or included other environments (or
were these the sole province of ergonomic)?

For what it's worth, here is where I ended up in my thinking:

1. Go for the broadest definitions possible. You never know how the
field will evolve.

2. Recognize that the positioning of an association is different from
the positioning of an individual. What I mean by this is that
professionally I have some strong ideas about what design is and how
the profession should operate. I will advocate for these positions on
my website, blogs and in publications.

However, what an association like IxDA should do is different.
Associations represent a diversity of people and views and have to be
careful not to limit their scope and become exclusionary since that
would limit the growth of the profession.

This becomes especially tricky when the association wants to set
itself up as an agent of quality assurance through licensing,
certification, ethics or even in providing training.

Charlie

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

19 Jan 2008 - 5:57pm
Joseph Selbie
2007

Dave,

If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that you prefer to be in
a particular position or phase of the process -- but doesn't the process,
looked at as a whole, still end up in an interface?

If this is the case, then I would say that there is already plenty of room
within the discipline of interaction design for specialists, principles,
generalists, etc.

There are many architects who have a role analogous to the one you describe,
but they are still very much architects, because they need to understand the
whole in order to do their part of it -- and the ultimate purpose of the
process is still designing a building.

Joseph Selbie
Founder, CEO Tristream
Web Application Design
http://www.tristream.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of dave
malouf
Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2008 2:22 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Defining UCD (and other things)

I think in the end I'm very happy NOT designing things, but rather
I'd be the more influential person designing the ideas and telling
the person who design things what I want them to do and if they
don't get it right, tell them to do it again.

Or ...

Collaborate with experts in form making w/ my expertise in dialog
creation. This is what I do now, and I have to say this sort of
co-designing to me is the model that I would like to see pushed
forward.

Being charge of interaction and form is nice but some subjects are
just more complex and when you are working at that level of
complexity (digital/analog eco-systems and services) its great to
apply design theory and practice in this way.

things are commodities. ideas generate true value.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

________________________________________________________________
*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
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19 Jan 2008 - 8:29pm
Dave Malouf
2005

No, I'm not saying that I only want to be in a particular phase.
I'm saying that ideation is more powerful part of the whole than the craft.
If I can also guide and challenge the craft and validate it and define
how it should come out, than the crafts person then becomes a chisel
weilded by me, or becomes a partner engaged in the same level of
creative composition from our mutually different areas of expertise.

-- dave

On Jan 19, 2008 5:57 PM, Joseph Selbie <jselbie at tristream.com> wrote:
> Dave,
>
> If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that you prefer to be in
> a particular position or phase of the process -- but doesn't the process,
> looked at as a whole, still end up in an interface?
>
> If this is the case, then I would say that there is already plenty of room
> within the discipline of interaction design for specialists, principles,
> generalists, etc.
>
> There are many architects who have a role analogous to the one you describe,
> but they are still very much architects, because they need to understand the
> whole in order to do their part of it -- and the ultimate purpose of the
> process is still designing a building.
>
> Joseph Selbie
> Founder, CEO Tristream
> Web Application Design
> http://www.tristream.com
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of dave
> malouf
> Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2008 2:22 PM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Defining UCD (and other things)
>
> I think in the end I'm very happy NOT designing things, but rather
> I'd be the more influential person designing the ideas and telling
> the person who design things what I want them to do and if they
> don't get it right, tell them to do it again.
>
> Or ...
>
> Collaborate with experts in form making w/ my expertise in dialog
> creation. This is what I do now, and I have to say this sort of
> co-designing to me is the model that I would like to see pushed
> forward.
>
> Being charge of interaction and form is nice but some subjects are
> just more complex and when you are working at that level of
> complexity (digital/analog eco-systems and services) its great to
> apply design theory and practice in this way.
>
> things are commodities. ideas generate true value.
>
> -- dave
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *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
>
>

--
David Malouf
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixda.org/
http://motorola.com/

19 Jan 2008 - 6:32pm
Vicky Teinaki
2008

Hi all,

First post ever! Thought I'd weigh in about the tangents going on here, as
well as the tangent in the Mac Air thread
http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=24636.

What's becoming increasingly apparent is that career titles are changing and
blurring. For example, my degree is in 'Product Design' (not 'Industrial
Design'). This caused all sorts of issues as people ask - what is a product?
Essentially the names are the same, but from what I understand, the degree
was named that way (in 2002) to give a bit more scope as Industrial Design
sounded too much like designing machines. Another reason is that industrial
designers are increasingly having to think about systems rather than just
products e.g. having a carpet hiring system rather than just buying it.

Maybe there is a similar thing going on with Interaction Design vs.
interface design (or even web design). It implies a wider field - e.g. I
think I'd talk about interactions rather than interface with the Nintendo
Wii!

Also with questions as to whether Industrial Design is all about the
hardware and Interaction Design is about the software - most product
designers would start that way I think, as we are taught about objects and
form first. However, muddying the waters a bit are the terms 'experience
design' or 'design for experience' which have been floating around for the
last 10 or so years (was is suggested by Brenda Laurel? Would have to check
my books).

Basically the idea is that form and materials can only do so much - if you
think through the whole process of using it (and sometimes easy-to-use
doesn't give the most resonant experience - think automatic vs. manual
coffee machines!) you're far more likely to come up with something that
people will become attached to.

>From what I know, industrial design-type people would probably not talk
about designing interactions unless there was software involved. However,
most up with the latest literature would think about the experience.

That would be I think where the Mac Air comes in - the industrial designers
would have been thinking about the experience of using it - approaching it,
opening it, exploring etc.

Ideally, a well managed product with an electronic component aligns the
experience of using the physical with the virtual, by using personas, mood
boards etc. Then the really amazing stuff happens ...

19 Jan 2008 - 11:33pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

On Jan 19, 2008, at 2:01 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> Imagine this for second, even if it seems a little silly. (Or least
> forgive me for my preference in television): In the future,
> interaction design is a more mainstream profession, and Bravo decides
> to create a reality television series called Interact This! built
> around the same model as Project Runway. Now imagine how the
> interaction designers would operate on such a show for the
> challenges. What exactly would they do?

I would expect it to look a lot like the IDEO shopping cart episode of
60 minutes. Most of the time would be given to research, ideation, and
mockups, with the high-fidelity prototype being churned out in the
last 10 minutes for the finale.

> Maybe I'm putting the cart before the horse here, but digital creates
> a well rounded place to start to create a definition that is well
> scoped. With code, there many specific things you can do that are
> high level enough to be used in multiple mediums, as long as there is
> a code component. Without digital or code, the variety of things
> "interaction" can be is rather broad and not very well defined. It
> could literally be almost anything that involves humans, which for
> our practical reality is everything.

I'm not buying it. If Black & Decker hires me to help make their next
lawnmower easier to use, by golly I've got worthwhile skills and
experience to bring to bare. How do you turn it on and off? How do you
account for safety issues? If it's electric, how do you charge it, and
how does it communicate its status? You can't tell me that the one
thing that determines whether or not this would be Interaction Design
is the presence or absence of a digital display. Regardless of whether
I start it with a mechanical switch or a soft button on a touch-
screen, the overarching problem to be solved and the processes I will
use to solve it are exactly the same.

> I mean... I guess I could do it all, but who has the time?

Just because you are an Interaction Designer doesn't mean that you
have to design everything that any Interaction Designer has ever
designed. Your focus is computer software, as is mine. But if an
Interaction Designer ends up specializing in power tools, she's still
an Interaction Designer and is still a welcome part of this
organization.

David Malouf said:
> No, I'm not saying that I only want to be in a particular phase.
> I'm saying that ideation is more powerful part of the whole than the
> craft.
> If I can also guide and challenge the craft and validate it and define
> how it should come out, than the crafts person then becomes a chisel
> weilded by me, or becomes a partner engaged in the same level of
> creative composition from our mutually different areas of expertise.

I'm right there with you, Dave. Depending on the project, I may end up
building the HTML and CSS for the front end of the application. In
another project, I'll create Photoshop renderings of screens and write
specifications to go with them, and then work with a developer to make
sure they get implemented as I intend. For another task, I may do some
pencil sketches to work out high-level design and then hand them off
to another designer to work out the details. One thing is certain: as
our company grows, I get stretched thinner. In the future, I expect to
be doing a lot more ideation and direction of others, and a lot less
pixel-pushing.

Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

To design is much more than simply
to assemble, to order, or even to edit;
it is to add value and meaning,
to illuminate, to simplify, to clarify,
to modify, to dignify, to dramatize,
to persuade, and perhaps even to amuse.

- Paul Rand

20 Jan 2008 - 2:09am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 19, 2008, at 8:33 PM, Jack Moffett wrote:

> I would expect it to look a lot like the IDEO shopping cart episode of
> 60 minutes. Most of the time would be given to research, ideation, and
> mockups, with the high-fidelity prototype being churned out in the
> last 10 minutes for the finale.

As long as the interaction designer is actually building and/or
coding that prototype with their own two hands -- which includes the
presentation and aesthetic of it among other things -- then I'm
agreement. Now the question would probably be... who else would agree
with that? Or would you disagree with me on those qualifications, and
would need to ask a different question?

> I'm not buying it. If Black & Decker hires me to help make their next
> lawnmower easier to use, by golly I've got worthwhile skills and
> experience to bring to bare. How do you turn it on and off? How do you
> account for safety issues? If it's electric, how do you charge it, and
> how does it communicate its status? You can't tell me that the one
> thing that determines whether or not this would be Interaction Design
> is the presence or absence of a digital display.

How do you go about designing those things on a lawnmower? Or at
least the "interaction" of those things? I ask because I honestly
couldn't tell you! Ask me how to design a painting tool with a Wacom
input device using a tablet computing system with a wireless
connection, and I could design you a tool that if it had the right
pixel processing engine under it could allow an artist to sit in the
park and paint like they they might with a real canvas and set of
paints.

How would I design the safety features on a lawnmower? Nope... you
got me. I have absolutely *no* idea. I wouldn't even know where to
begin with any confidence.

Part of picking a career as either a graphic designer or an
industrial designer is because one wants to design the things those
fields specialize in. How does someone go to college and pick a
degree in designing anything as long as it has a "behavioral"
component. Doesn't *everything* have that? And if so, what exactly
does it mean?

> Regardless of whether
> I start it with a mechanical switch or a soft button on a touch-
> screen, the overarching problem to be solved and the processes I will
> use to solve it are exactly the same.

This is where I also disagree. The presence of software or logic
present in the system you are designing to the degree that digital
allows completely changes the design problem. It's the difference
between designing a rotary phone and an iPhone. The complexity of
what software allows and the kind of design issues, specifically with
its interaction, presents rather significant differences.

Personally, I think there's plenty to do with digital and software.
Does that mean I think working on power tools is inferior? No. I just
think it's different, and different enough to be something else.

> Just because you are an Interaction Designer doesn't mean that you
> have to design everything that any Interaction Designer has ever
> designed. Your focus is computer software, as is mine. But if an
> Interaction Designer ends up specializing in power tools, she's still
> an Interaction Designer and is still a welcome part of this
> organization.

So how would the IxDA support the two people, practically speaking?
The breadth and depth of the various design problems in those two
examples are rather significant. I can see how an organization could
support any type of designer, speaking academically or from a more
theoretical vantage point. But when it comes down to providing
content, training, education, career paths, conferences,
certifications... How would the IxDA or any organization handle such
a diverse membership?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

20 Jan 2008 - 3:03am
Elizabeth Bacon
2003

Hi folks,

Bringing this thread back to its origins...I think the UPA Body of Knowledge is really impressive and great, and wanted to thank the poster. I especially appreciate their pointing to us (IxDA) for Design.

I also think that IxDA really needs to put some aspects of IxD practice into writing and resolve some of the debates raging in our discipline. Witness...this thread! :)

I wrote Robert separately to volunteer, so count me in on the efforts. Let's put some stakes in the ground together....

Cheers,
Liz

P.S. I actually don't see any really big differences between Andrei's statements and the positions of all the IxD practitioners I know & love. To me personally, interaction design has to involve a digital dimension, but IxD solutions could involve both products and services. Artifacts are secondary; its fundamental tenets and considerations are conceptual in nature yet its fundamental practice and application must consider form.

20 Jan 2008 - 7:06am
Bruno Figueiredo
2007

About a year ago I approached the IxDA board because I had a project
in mind. After a long discussion we agreed on calling it the IxDA
Practice Guide and I volunteered to lead the efforts.

The main objectives are to consolidate the processes and design
language we use by gathering feedback on the different approaches
being used out there.

I come from an Architecture background and I felt that the
Interaction Design community needed something similar to what
Architects have: a standard, yet flexible process and visual language
that enables them to design something and then communicating it with
anyone around the world. I can design a building and send it to a
Japanese builder and he can pretty much figure it out.

Throughout my career I worked in several different companies and
every one of them had its own process and visual language and that
struck me as insane. For instance, programming languages are
standard. Just imagine if they changed according to the company you
worked for. I feel we are all trying to reinvent the wheel, when we
should be focusing on the design itself.

The UPA BoK is a very interesting project, but I feel that we as
Interaction Designers need something more design-related.

Since Jesse James Garrett was the first one to develop a visual
language for interactions, I already invited him to oversee the
groups efforts.

Also, I think that this Definitions effort would fit the scope of the
Practice Guide Workgroup. There's already a Wiki setup for it at
practiceguide.ixda.org (needs finishing) and the email address is
practiceguide at ixda.org.

I would welcome everyone's help on this.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

20 Jan 2008 - 9:54am
Mark Schraad
2006

Seriously Andrei, you are saying that in order to be an interaction
designer, the designer has to have the skills to code the prototype?
Or, if they had someone else build the code, they really did not
design it?

On Jan 20, 2008, at 2:09 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

>> I would expect it to look a lot like the IDEO shopping cart
>> episode of
>> 60 minutes. Most of the time would be given to research, ideation,
>> and
>> mockups, with the high-fidelity prototype being churned out in the
>> last 10 minutes for the finale.
>
> As long as the interaction designer is actually building and/or
> coding that prototype with their own two hands -- which includes the
> presentation and aesthetic of it among other things -- then I'm
> agreement. Now the question would probably be... who else would agree
> with that? Or would you disagree with me on those qualifications, and
> would need to ask a different question?

20 Jan 2008 - 10:44am
Dave Malouf
2005

Andrei, you lost me completely with this:
> As long as the interaction designer is actually building and/or
> coding that prototype with their own two hands -- which includes
the
> presentation and aesthetic of it among other things -- then I'm
> agreement. Now the question would probably be... who else would
agree
> with that? Or would you disagree with me on those qualifications,
and
> would need to ask a different question?

This is akin to saying that a graphic designer, needs to do the
typesetting and the film production, which we all know except for a
few major control freaks they don't.

To bring in another metaphor, how many architects do their own
plumbing or electrical, or even put up their own dry-wall? Uh! NONE!

Andrei has asked what do we design?
Well I see this akin to movie making where there are many roles that
take shape well off the film process:

Screen writer really comes to mind as the analog for interaction
designer as narrative writer.

The screen writer usually is not a cinematographer or editor or actor
or production artist, but he/she lays the foundation from which they
apply their own particular skills too.

I'm starting to feel that you Andrei are embuing your ideal with
practice into a definition of IxD or even interface design that may
not be as fundamental as you would hope.

Too many great design organizations work quite differently from your
model for me to just jump in and say every interface designer or IxD
needs to be daVinci.

Its work for you. Admirably so, but I find this detail of practice to
be similar to the way that 37Signals try to generalize their success
model into something that works on anything other than "what we
build for ourselves" (which is their mantra). It doesn't and it
can't. The same holds true for what I read in your postings here. It
works for you, as an individual, but methods and practice are always
organizationally contextually sensitive and variant and well, because
of such can't be used to define that discipline. That's why design
schools concentrate on fundamentals of line & form as foundational
classes first and then teach process and methods afterwards. The
latter is a variant or preference, but the former is required
regardless of those variants.

-- dave

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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20 Jan 2008 - 1:17pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> - Before we get started re-inventing the wheel, let's find out what
> others have said.

Hence my suggestion to start by looking for existing definitions to discuss
(among the team members).

- I think that focused discussion is an important part of this type
> of initiative. I am a great fan of wikis but there is a lot of value
> in talking about the issues -- not just revision.

Hence my suggestion to toss the definitions out to the list for feedback and
discussion.

:)

-r-

20 Jan 2008 - 1:23pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> The UPA has been working on a project to define a Usability Body of
> Knowledge (BoK) since 2004. You can review a definition for UCD and many
> other common terms at http://www.usabilitybok.org/ in the Glossary
> section.
> We also have sections for Methods, Design and other subjects.

The definition of UCD from UPA's Body of Knowledge glossary:

"An approach or philosophy that emphasizes early and continuous involvement
of users in the design and evaluation process"

This definition is hardly fulfilling. If UCD could be wrapped up in a single
sentence, we wouldn't be having this debate every week in the first place.

-r-

20 Jan 2008 - 1:32pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I think we should "own" the design of interfaces.

In making this statement, is your intent to exclude all the other things we
do? This statement alone would mean we're nothing more than "interface
designers", and one can easily design an interface without any of the other
aspects of this profession.

-r-

20 Jan 2008 - 1:36pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

> I'm saying that ideation is more powerful part of the whole than the
> craft.
> If I can also guide and challenge the craft and validate it and define
> how it should come out, than the crafts person then becomes a chisel
> weilded by me, or becomes a partner engaged in the same level of
> creative composition from our mutually different areas of expertise.

You should consider rewording this description before you broadcast it
anywhere else. It's self-important and a bit demeaning to anyone working
under you.

-r-

20 Jan 2008 - 2:09pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jan 20, 2008, at 1:23 PM, Robert Hoekman, Jr. wrote:

> The definition of UCD from UPA's Body of Knowledge glossary:
>
> "An approach or philosophy that emphasizes early and continuous
> involvement
> of users in the design and evaluation process"
>
> This definition is hardly fulfilling. If UCD could be wrapped up in
> a single
> sentence, we wouldn't be having this debate every week in the first
> place.

You're on a snark hunt (http://tinyurl.com/27uzen).

You won't find a definition because it doesn't exist.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

20 Jan 2008 - 2:21pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Jan 20, 2008, at 7:44 AM, dave malouf wrote:

> This is akin to saying that a graphic designer, needs to do the
> typesetting and the film production, which we all know except for a
> few major control freaks they don't.

To answer both questions from Dave and Mark, many graphic designers
when getting trained in design school learned how to use a
typesetting machine. Once they get established, they no longer need
to do that. With the computer, they are now the typesetter as well
for what's that worth.

With prototyping, at Involution, we have front-end developers doing
the majority of the code for prototyping. This is because of all the
issues of time and project schedules and how much clients are willing
to pay. But the expectation is that our designers know how to both to
understand what can and can't be done (the can't be done is often
more important than the can be done) and to have the an appreciation
of what it takes to make it happen so they can affect proper
direction of the overall design. To be able to do either of those
they need to understand how to prototype.

Don't mistake the practical constraints of having designers focus on
the design so others do the prototyping from not having to have the
skills to do so in the first place.

On Project Runway, those designers make their clothes. When it comes
to working at a place like The Gap to make clothes, other people do.
The point is that those designers know how to. Not that they have to
do it all of the time.

> That's why design
> schools concentrate on fundamentals of line & form as foundational
> classes first and then teach process and methods afterwards. The
> latter is a variant or preference, but the former is required
> regardless of those variants.

I agree with this, so I'm not sure what the difference is between us.
Our current design education in this field barely does the former and
completely ignores that latter. Most people coming out of education
programs have all sorts of great theory, but not many of them know
how to build things with that theory. Don't you think that's a big
problem?

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

20 Jan 2008 - 2:34pm
Joseph Selbie
2007

I think we should "own" the design of interfaces.

In making this statement, is your intent to exclude all the other things we
do?

Not at all. I believe the interactive design “process” is, and should be, a
rich and varied process which includes a wide variety of approaches,
practices, skill sets, etc.

Similarly, the architectural design process has many approaches (from the
user-centered – such as Christopher Alexander’s “Pattern Language”, to the
Frank Lloyd Wright design-from-inspiration approach), many practices
(skyscrapers, landscape, public spaces, residential, commercial) and skill
sets (draftsmen, designers, researchers etc. – the usual span of skills
required for a team process).

But there is no question in the average person’s mind that all the
approaches, practices and skill sets involved dovetail for the purpose of
designing buildings.

If one takes a giant step back from our profession, one can see that all
design processes, ours included, that require a team (architecture,
industrial design, advertising, mechanical design, all come to mind), tend
to develop specialties. And the specialties tend to follow the same pattern:
the design team needs to know who the design is for and what it needs to
accomplish, what are the budgets and materials (whether steel or code) that
the team has to work with, and to have an iterative design process that
methodically integrates input and critique.

We would be naïve to think that interaction design/usability/experience
design is solving completely new problems. Rather, I would say, interaction
design/usability/experience design is solving the same problems as
architecture and industrial design has to solve, but we are solving the
problems within the medium of digital interfaces.

Again, if we take a giant step back from our profession and compare it to
other team design processes you will see many similarities across the
methodologies employed – but the one thing that stands out as the
difference between our profession and architecture is the medium we apply
our design process to – interfaces.

So, I advocate that we embrace that defining difference – the medium – in
order to differentiate ourselves from other design disciplines.

The other path is to define interactive design as an approach (with specific
practices) that can be applied to the design of nearly everything. I
understand and appreciate that this is a valid way to view and promote
interaction design. My concern about that direction is that interaction
design could simply become a trend that passes, and is passed up and made
irrelevant by a newer more trendy approach.

Approaches come and go – but the medium is here to stay. Architecture
constantly evolves (new practices, new approaches, new materials, new
challenges) but the medium – buildings – remains the central purpose of the
profession.

I am advocating that we move forward with the aim to establish in the
average person’s mind that all the approaches, practices and skill sets
involved in interactive design dovetail for the purpose of designing
interfaces that facilitate rich interaction. Those interfaces can reside on
the dash board of a car, the handle bar of a really cool lawn mower, a
mobile device, a refrigerator door, or a computer – but the commonality is
that they all have interfaces that allow rich interaction.

Joseph Selbie

Founder, CEO Tristream

Web Application Design

http://www.tristream.com

20 Jan 2008 - 2:48pm
Bruno Figueiredo
2007

"how many architects do their own plumbing or electrical, or even put
up their own dry-wall? Uh! NONE!"

Yes, you're right. But they need to know where they go and how they
can be fitted otherwise the building they're designing might not be
feasible.

And that's the same thing I think about Interaction Designers. For
instance, I know how to code and program but I don't consider myself
a prof. I know hoe to do graphic design but again I'm not exceptional
at that. But I feel that I am a better IxD because I know these.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

20 Jan 2008 - 3:20pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> Don't mistake the practical constraints of having designers focus on
> the design so others do the prototyping from not having to have the
> skills to do so in the first place.

I believe that having the skills to create the prototype, in whatever
form it may take, will make you a better Interaction Designer than you
would be without those skills. I certainly consider them to be
critical to my own success. However, I don't believe the lack of those
skills necessarily results in a poor IxDer. Nor do I believe that lack
of those skills relegates someone to being a less talented IxDer than
one with those skills.

> How do you go about designing those things on a lawnmower? Or at
> least the "interaction" of those things? I ask because I honestly
> couldn't tell you! Ask me how to design a painting tool with a Wacom
> input device using a tablet computing system with a wireless
> connection, and I could design you a tool that if it had the right
> pixel processing engine under it could allow an artist to sit in the
> park and paint like they they might with a real canvas and set of
> paints.
>
> How would I design the safety features on a lawnmower? Nope... you
> got me. I have absolutely *no* idea. I wouldn't even know where to
> begin with any confidence.

I've worked with customers in several different industries. Each time
I started, I didn't know the domain. I didn't know how to design the
safety features on the lawnmower. My design process, however, gave me
a confident starting point. I learned about the workers, their
problems, their tasks, etc. and was able to design solutions that
helped them.

> Part of picking a career as either a graphic designer or an
> industrial designer is because one wants to design the things those
> fields specialize in. How does someone go to college and pick a
> degree in designing anything as long as it has a "behavioral"
> component. Doesn't *everything* have that? And if so, what exactly
> does it mean?

This reminds me of a story that Dan Boyarski, currently chair of the
School of Design at CMU, told us about a young girl who when asked
what she wanted to be when she grew up said, "I want to be a designer
of everything!" Unrealistic? Yes, most likely. But what I was taught
there prepared me for more than just designing computer software. I
only had one semester-long course on "interface design". That's not to
say that I wasn't doing interface design in other courses, but that
was the only one that declared it as the true focus of the course. If
you learn design processes and how to apply them to problems, that
gets you a long way towards "designing everything as long as it has a
"behavioral" component."

> Personally, I think there's plenty to do with digital and software.
> Does that mean I think working on power tools is inferior? No. I just
> think it's different, and different enough to be something else.

So you would rather that we be the Software Interaction Design
Association or Digital Interaction Design Association. I'd prefer we
remain more inclusive than that. What's to keep someone else from
saying that designing software for mobile phones is different—
different enough to be something else?

> So how would the IxDA support the two people, practically speaking?
> The breadth and depth of the various design problems in those two
> examples are rather significant. I can see how an organization could
> support any type of designer, speaking academically or from a more
> theoretical vantage point. But when it comes down to providing
> content, training, education, career paths, conferences,
> certifications... How would the IxDA or any organization handle such
> a diverse membership?

I guess we're just going to disagree. I don't see it as being any
different. Again, to reference my alma mater, at CMU, the
Communication Designers and Industrial Designers start off taking the
same foundation courses. Eventually they decide which area they want
to focus on and take domain specific courses, but the organization,
the School of Design, supports them both.

Jack

Jack L. Moffett
Interaction Designer
inmedius
412.459.0310 x219
http://www.inmedius.com

My goal is to build elegant products.
The products that don't make people think
when they should be doing,
make people think
when they should be learning,
compel them by relating to them,
and simply work.

- Robert Hoekman, Jr.

20 Jan 2008 - 3:32pm
Jeff Seager
2007

Seriously, guys, can you make this any more difficult?

As a writer/editor, may I suggest something that may help advance
this beyond the realm of philosophy? (please say yes)

Write a definition that suits you. Better yet, write a definition
that you *love*. Keep it short. Hoist it up the flagpole. Let us all
shoot holes in it or salute it.

Then move on to definition #2. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Just a thought. Carry on!

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24685

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