This week’s assignment for 1′, 2′, 10′ was a longie, and it stumped the hell out of me and, apparently, a couple of other people:
Like I’ve said in class before, the game changer for the computer industry was Apple’s innovation of WIMP (windows, icons, menus, and pointing devices) – Apple’s interface became popular because it was immediately intuitive and simple to use. People recognized a ‘desktop’ as a, well, a ‘desktop’. Folders as folders. A trash can as a trash can. etc. This hasn’t changed in 25 years and there are currently discussions to see if it should. So, our homework is to explore, research and document 5 new User Interface experiences that we could apply to a computer, from the real world. Examples that exist today and are changing this model are the multi touch ‘stretch’ for enlarging images, a play button for video, a trash can for trash etc.
We should think about new ways to say things in an online environment. How do you tell someone they are near the end of an article, in a non-digital setting you would could glance to the end, but digitally you have numbers like PAGE 1 of 5 etc. Is there a better way to make the show this? What about rethinking the desktop? Could it be multi-dimential? Maybe it becomes 3D? Maybe it becomes like the iPhone and it’s just icons of apps and only one thing can be open at a time… maybe not. The folder concept worked for small pieces of data, but now it’s not a great interface, the more data we create, the more folders we need and sub folders etc. What about a music player UI? Or a book interface? IMPORTANT: There are two things to think about here, there is the design / interface, and then there is the modality. An example is. The trashcan represents the Interface, but dropping trash into it represents the action.
Start to think about ways that we can make the exprience better than exists today. Please come with 5 examples of these and a brief description of how they would work. And try to push the boundaries. You can write them out as a description, you can sketch them out on your computer. You can use crayolas, pencils, markers or candle wax, but make sure you put effort into showing how it will work. And bring your research to discuss in class.
I scribbled down a bunch of lists of real-life contexts that might supply metaphors for a computer interface—kitchen, farmhouse, library, city—all of which seemed ridiculous. What’s wrong with the desktop metaphor that we have? Besides, you know, the fact that I’ve never been much of a desk-user, and why are those things called “windows,” and what’s with “icons,” and so forth. If you were to make a user interface based on where and how I actually work, it would have to include elements such as “couch,” “pile,” “bookalanche,” and “crumbs,” and the OS would have to be called something like “putter” or “noodle.” Probably not so useful to other people.
So, instead, I was thinking about what kind of interface might make more sense to my mom, who has been using computers for about twenty-five years and Macs for almost ten, and who does not understand what or where her “desktop” is, nor the difference between an application, a window, and the operating system itself. She’s an artist, so I thought a studio metaphor might make more sense. But also, inverting the nesting metaphor of the whole OS might help. That is, why does she have to know which application to use, and then open a file within that? Why can’t she just have stuff that she’s working on, and then use tools to modify it? So the “applications” become “tools,” and the “document” becomes a “work” made of materials and a process.
When you want to make a new work, you go to the materials shelf and choose a basic substance to start with—2D (e.g., paper, canvas) or 3D (a blob)? You drag it onto the easel, of which you can have more than one. Then you can select some properties of that material. Size? Color? How rigid or stretchy do you want it to be? How translucent? How smooth? Many of these would probably best be controlled using slider, though for something like texture, you’d probably want a swatch.
Choose a tool, such as a brush or roller, or type from a California job case; assign a color; and and start doing stuff to your material. To pick a color, you would have a palette and a mixing area, so that you could mix or dilute colors. The resulting mixtures could be added to a global palette or discarded. Use your 3D mouse to shape it. Pick another material off the shelf and attach it. Choose an (optional) adhesive (which could include staples, sewing) and the attachment point or surface. How hard are they pressed together—like, does one dent the other? You can type on any surface of an object. You can drag one material against another to transfer properties such as color or texture. You can fold the material by marking a scoring line and dragging one side over the other. You can flip a piece of 2D material over and work on the back.
When you’re done with a work, you can stick it in a drawer. Each work would be stored as a recording of its process of construction. At any time, you could select an existing work from a drawer and use a slider to move back along a timeline, if you want to undo something. To repeat an operation, you could select a segment of the timeline, copy, and paste it to the same work or to any other work.