Posts

Showing posts from October, 2007

Don Norman: "The Design of Future Things"

Today I got the new book by Don Norman, "The Design of Future Things". After having read the book tonight I have some words about it. As usual, the book is a typical Norman. It is easy to read, full of good stories and great examples. It also addresses issues that are clearly becoming some of the most interesting emerging design challenges in our society, at least when it comes to technological aspects of our everyday reality.

The basic question in the book is based on the assumption that we are at a point when we are able to develop "intelligent" and autonomous devices. The question is then how to live and interact with such devices? What if the car "takes care of us" and makes decisions that override our own actions as a driver. How can we establish a symbiotic relationship (a concept that Norman uses and likes) with the smart car? The book is full of examples of smart technology that in most cases just seem annoying and terrible to live with. Norman gi…

HCI theory and HCI practice

This semester I am teaching a course on philosophy and theory of design. The course also covers theories in HCI and how they can be understood from a design perspective. The more I work on this, the more I realize that the field is not paying enough attention to the difference between theories/methods/concepts to be used in HCI research and theories/methods/concepts intended to support interaction design practice.

It is to me obvious that these two forms of activity, HCI research and design practice are so distinctly different that they have also distinct different requirements for what can constitute useful intellectual support. This distinction that has to be made more clear. There is nothing that says that an intellectual tool that works well for HCI research would support design practice, or vice versa. For instance, the theory of distributed cognition, is an intellectual tool that, used in the right way, can be quite useful in a research setting, while as a tool for practice is …

Real world design by game designers

It is fascinating to read this little story. In the new Nissan GT-R there is a new multifunction dash display designed in collaboration with the game designers behind the game Grand Turismo. So, is this the first case where game designers move their design skills into the real world? It raises many interesting questions and ideas.....
(Thanks Daniel Fällman for the link)

The history and genealogy of interactive artifacts

It is time that someone writes the history of interactive artifacts. I would love to find books similar to what is available in architecture, product design, and art. Large wonderful books with beautiful pictures covering the important and significant exemplars in our field. In these books we would be able to find pictures of the first command line, the first Visicalc version, the first Word, the first Tetris, etc. This would of course reveal earlier and present design philosophies and design styles influencing our field during different time periods, and would/could lead to extensive theoretical debate and discourse, all valuable for anyone in the field.

This could further be developed into a genealogy of interactive artifacts, which is something I have frequently discussed with my colleague Jeff Bardzell. This would mean that we would analyze how artifacts over time have influenced other artifacts, how "design genes" live on from "generation to generation". Such a…

Cooking -- scientific design and design space

In a recent article in Wired magazine, "the father of molecular gastronomy" is portrayed. This is a really interesting text. First of all it is fascinating to see how you can approach cooking as a scientific enterprise. Herve This is the scientist who invents new dishes based on scientific analysis of ingredients and their chemistry. He is looking for, what he labels "cooking precision" leading to "molecular gastronomy". According to the article Herve has been able to create some new dishes that are loved by customers. Of course, the formal system that Herve has created does not prescribe how to cook and even less what to cook :-) But, it can stimulate our understanding and imagination of what is the possible design space for new dishes. To me, this story shows the power of "frameworks" in design. Good frameworks can support the exploration and opening up of possible design spaces. This is radically opposite to the idea of developing prescripti…

Design-driven business

There is today a growing interest in how design thinking can change the way businesses approach their challenges. Design is becoming the new "thing" in some innovative business schools. This is also being recognized in media, see for instance this article in Business Week, and here is one from Financial Times.

I find this development encouraging and am looking forward to the day when there are business programs that fully embrace a design driven approach. I think we are still not there. Even though many talk about design, claim to be design oriented, few have a deeper understanding what it actually means and entails in practical educational settings. It is in relation to this development good to be involved in a program that for several years have developed a strong sense of design and that produces highly skilled interaction design students that are successful on the job market. An education that takes design as the premier approach seriously is still difficult to implement…