Wordsmithing : Can't we all just get along?

20 Mar 2006 - 2:09pm
8 years ago
8 replies
506 reads
John Vaughan - ...
2004

The Nipple: Innate or Intuitive?

Hmmm... Could we agree that the two terms are very close in meaning?

The Latin root of "innate" indicates that "you're born with it" and that it
is not "derived from experience"*

The Latin root of "intuition" indicates that "you look at it and know it";
i.e. It is "instantaneous apprehension"* that occurs "without the conscious
use of reasoning"*

(* I'm using an ancient Webster's for reference)

In terms of practical human experience it's kind of difficult to separate
the two concepts, even tho the root definitions differ.

As for my nipples, ....well....

Observation:

My newborn son "understood" his mother's nipples without hesitation. I
don't know that he really felt the same way about mine. Note: He could
also be easily fooled/distracted/satisfied by a plastic nipple.

That same son now easily plays complex computer games that have an
"intuitive" interface. I believe that his ability to do so is the result of
experience (with other games and logical structures, social norms, media,
etc.), though *without* the conscious use of reasoning.

Comments

20 Mar 2006 - 2:33pm
Dave Malouf
2005

A nipple is the wrong example. Why?
B/c a baby has a reflex reaction to anything put in its mouth (eyes open or
shut). For example, one way to tell if a baby is crying b/c its hungry is to
put your finger in its mouth. If it starts sucking, then it is possibly
hungry.

A finger! Not a nipple. It is like a venus fly trap that reacts to something
in it. This is an inherited reflex response.

When we speak about intuition, as John tried to describe, we are speaking
about something that requires thought. Is it discoverable and understandable
without further verbal communication or intervention. This is what we mean.

What is also important to understand is that intuition is not always
generalizable. What is intuitive for one person may not be for another.

This is probably the biggest mistake. People use the term intuitive to mean
"easy for everyone".

- -dave

20 Mar 2006 - 3:13pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

David Heller writes:

> A nipple is the wrong example. Why?
> B/c a baby has a reflex reaction to anything put in its mouth
> (eyes open or shut). For example, one way to tell if a baby
> is crying b/c its hungry is to put your finger in its mouth.
> If it starts sucking, then it is possibly hungry.

Dave, I don't follow you here. I mean, I agree that what you're
describing is correct, but I don't see how it counters my statement that
the only intuitive interface is the nipple. It seems to me that what
you're saying is that there aren't any "intuitive" interfaces because
they all require learning. Which is precisely my position.

(Note: That statement of mine is cheeky and over the top on purpose, to
underscore the point that nothing that requires prior experience to
understand can correctly be called "intuitive" in the abstract.)

> When we speak about intuition, as John tried to describe, we
> are speaking about something that requires thought.

I'm not so sure. Or, I'm not sure it's that simple. In my experience,
we usually mean something that we know how to use *without* having to
think consciously about it.

> What is also important to understand is that intuition is not
> always generalizable. What is intuitive for one person may
> not be for another.

Exactly. That is why I reject the notion that any human-computer
interface is "intuitive" in the abstract.

Elizabeth

20 Mar 2006 - 4:19pm
Dave Malouf
2005

HI Elizabeth,

I'm only sorta really in agreement with you. (I thought I was countering
John though, but that's another issue.)

I do think that there is a concept of affordance. That there are items in
the physical world that gain knowledge of use through experience (indirectly
and directly).

A baby at play is a great example. They don't know what a button is, but by
the time they are 1 they do. This is learned one can say, but that learning
is transportable to so many different contexts and physical relationships
and what makes a physical button intuitive is really whether or not is
relatable to a previous experience.

Many of our experiences though are learned less directly. We know how to use
a phone the first one we pick up through watching. Ergo the basic shape of a
phone tells us something so powerful that is easy for almost any child to
pick up a banana and start playing with it as if it is a phone.

These physical types of situations are very very difficult to translate to
the virtual world, but we are trying. ;)

So, like language itself, there are learned elements of the way we interact
with things that reaches our more unconscious levels that help us intuit
(discover) intended meaning from presented ways of interfacing with the
world around us.

-- dave

20 Mar 2006 - 5:57pm
Ash Donaldson
2005

On 21/3/06 9:19 AM, "David Heller" <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
> So, like language itself, there are learned elements of the way we interact
> with things that reaches our more unconscious levels that help us intuit
> (discover) intended meaning from presented ways of interfacing with the
> world around us.

Indeed. There is much from linguistics that can be transferred directly to
Interaction Design.

It has been demonstrated that our conceptual system, both in terms of how we
think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical. Lakoff & Johnson¹s (1980,
2003) classic work, ³Metaphors We Live By² eloquently illustrates how
metaphors are a base mechanism that allow us to apply what we know about
social and physical experience to provide an understanding of innumerable
topics, from unexperienced physical events to abstract concepts such as
logic.

As an adjunct, the mere use of metonymy (using a loosely associated concept
to represent an object e.g. A waiter referring to a customer by saying ³The
soy latte hasn¹t paid²) and synecdoches (speaking of a part but meaning the
whole e.g. Someone referring to another person by saying ³Ask the blonde²)
are examples of the large bridge that separates how man thinks and acts
(abstract concepts), as distinct from how machines process commands and
respond (logic). Obviously, to create more engaging and usable systems, we
have to take such considerations into account.

Cheers,

Ash Donaldson
Senior Experience Architect 
M 0414 55 9996 

www.different.com.au     T +61 2 9908 1077 F +61 2 9908 3443

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20 Mar 2006 - 6:21pm
gmb at asi-az.com
2006

If I get a few moments in the next day or so, I will attempt to explain the
relevance of innate versus intuition, common sense vs common knowledge in
the design process, from a human factors/ergonomics perspective. In
essence, those designers who understand the difference: in the above and
the broader context of language, it's construct, it's influence on thought
constructs (hence actions), and most importantly, its influence on design,
have a distinct advantage in the design process. That is, they have a
higher probability of designing consistent with the user's capabilities,
particularly when you are involved in cross-culture design issues.

At 04:57 PM 3/20/2006, Ash Donaldson wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>
>On 21/3/06 9:19 AM, "David Heller" <dave at ixda.org> wrote:
> > So, like language itself, there are learned elements of the way we interact
> > with things that reaches our more unconscious levels that help us intuit
> > (discover) intended meaning from presented ways of interfacing with the
> > world around us.
>
>Indeed. There is much from linguistics that can be transferred directly to
>Interaction Design.
>
>It has been demonstrated that our conceptual system, both in terms of how we
>think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical. Lakoff & Johnson¹s (1980,
>2003) classic work, ³Metaphors We Live By² eloquently illustrates how
>metaphors are a base mechanism that allow us to apply what we know about
>social and physical experience to provide an understanding of innumerable
>topics, from unexperienced physical events to abstract concepts such as
>logic.
>
>As an adjunct, the mere use of metonymy (using a loosely associated concept
>to represent an object e.g. A waiter referring to a customer by saying ³The
>soy latte hasn¹t paid²) and synecdoches (speaking of a part but meaning the
>whole e.g. Someone referring to another person by saying ³Ask the blonde²)
>are examples of the large bridge that separates how man thinks and acts
>(abstract concepts), as distinct from how machines process commands and
>respond (logic). Obviously, to create more engaging and usable systems, we
>have to take such considerations into account.
>
>Cheers,
>
>Ash Donaldson
>Senior Experience Architect
>M 0414 55 9996
>
>www.different.com.au T +61 2 9908 1077 F +61 2 9908 3443
>
>
>
>Important: This transmission is intended for the use of the addressee and
>may contain confidential or legally
>privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are
>notified that any use or dissemination of this
>communication is strictly prohibited. If you receive this transmission in
>error please notify the author immediately
>and delete all copies of this transmission.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
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20 Mar 2006 - 8:34pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

Well well well, Yet another IxDA tempest-in-a-teapot triggered by a couple
of flippant comments. Looks like we're in it now. What's next? Symbols
versus. Semiotics? Really enjoying the calibre of the arguments, tho -
seriously - This stuff is truly "radical" (i.e. fundamental, of the root or
source, basic).

Elizabeth, I chuckled at your original "nipple" comment. And Jared's
response sent me to the dictionary to research my own understanding of the
terms "innate" and "intuitive", which is, as David points out, marginal at
best. I definitely gotta use more emoticons...

My work here is done.

22 Mar 2006 - 12:06pm
Doug Anderson
2004

Hi Folks,

Mind if I step up and whallop this horse carcass too? (Note: vague reference to an American idiom, "beating a dead horse," by one whom some might consider an American idiot.)

"Intuitive" is not a property of the artifact (interface, whatever) but, like "usability," it is an emergent property of the system comprising the artifact, the context of use, and the user (including the user's current goal set, experience, physical state, etc.).

That such a system is "intuitive" might be detected by observing that the user makes correct initial assumptions/guesses about how to interact successfully with the artifact in the actual context of use.

I hereby relinquish the whalloping stick, anyone else want it?

Peace,
Doug Anderson

Opinions expressed are necessarily mine, not necessarily those of the Mayo Foundation.

Original message:
Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2006 16:13:07 -0500
From: "Elizabeth Buie" <ebuie at userworks.com>
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Wordsmithing : Can't we all just get
along?
To: "David Heller" <dave at ixda.org>, "John Vaughan"
<vaughan1 at optonline.net>, <discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
Message-ID: <4FA813BBF27CFA4596314E61C6A63C3935DFFD at UWSRV.uwi.local>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

David Heller writes:

> A nipple is the wrong example. Why?
> B/c a baby has a reflex reaction to anything put in its mouth
> (eyes open or shut). For example, one way to tell if a baby
> is crying b/c its hungry is to put your finger in its mouth.
> If it starts sucking, then it is possibly hungry.

Dave, I don't follow you here. I mean, I agree that what you're
describing is correct, but I don't see how it counters my statement that
the only intuitive interface is the nipple. It seems to me that what
you're saying is that there aren't any "intuitive" interfaces because
they all require learning. Which is precisely my position.

(Note: That statement of mine is cheeky and over the top on purpose, to
underscore the point that nothing that requires prior experience to
understand can correctly be called "intuitive" in the abstract.)

> When we speak about intuition, as John tried to describe, we
> are speaking about something that requires thought.

I'm not so sure. Or, I'm not sure it's that simple. In my experience,
we usually mean something that we know how to use *without* having to
think consciously about it.

> What is also important to understand is that intuition is not
> always generalizable. What is intuitive for one person may
> not be for another.

Exactly. That is why I reject the notion that any human-computer
interface is "intuitive" in the abstract.

Elizabeth

22 Mar 2006 - 4:41pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Doug Anderson writes:

> "Intuitive" is not a property of the artifact (interface,
> whatever) but, like "usability," it is an emergent property
> of the system comprising the artifact, the context of use,
> and the user (including the user's current goal set,
> experience, physical state, etc.).

I could live with that, Doug.

Elizabeth

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