Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Interactivity explained

Well, it is getting closer. My colleague Lars-Erik Janlert are in the final stretch of the writings of our book in which we explore and examine what interactivity is. It is extremely exciting and fun work. But of course it takes a lot of time. We are not sure about the title yet. In the book we cover  definitions of interactivity and interface, interaction and control and complexity, character, expressions and impressions, how to measure interactivity, faceless interaction, interactivity clutter, etc. We will soon present a bit more about it. Fun stuff...

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

When design is about replicating nature

I don't know how but I ended up ordering a book called "The reality of the artificial: nature, technology and naturoids" by Massimo Negrotti. I had no expectations. However, the book surprised me and has forced me to reflect on a lot of questions I have not really thought about. The main topic of the book is "naturoids", that is, human made objects that imitate or replicate some aspect of nature. One chapter is for instance labeled "Duplicating Reality". Massimo makes the case that duplicating nature is different from creating 'new' objects. He discusses this using notions as the 'essentiality of things', complexity, transfiguration, etc. He also tries to define what is an exemplar and how it can be defined.

I find the book fascinating and insightful. Also well-written. To the point and clear. The specific perspective in the book is quite different from what we usually find in theoretical investigations into design. It opens up for new questions, such as, when is design really about the creation of something new and when it is about replicating something already existing. It also becomes a philosophical approach to innovation (it involves the creation of naturoids, their transfiguration, etc.). Very cool!

Design and Boredom

Maybe one of the most important but neglected human emotions when it comes to design is boredom. Designers are always challenged by it. You do not want to design something that is boring. At the same time, what one day is exciting is the next day boring. What one day is designed in accordance with the most trendy and popular principles is the next seen as old-fashioned and boring.

To all those researchers who are trying to develop tools, methods, principles or theories aimed at supporting designers in their process, boredom is a significant enemy. What if you are successful in supporting and influencing designers to improve their designs in a specific way, you also with some certainty will make designs more similar and with that comes inevitable the sense of boring.

This is why anyone who is engaged in the challenged of improving design in any way or form, have to be very careful. The improvements, the influences, the support can not have any built in prescriptions of what kind of decisions, judgments, qualities, etc. are better than others, other than really foundational (or abstract) beliefs and values. These first intentions should only be aimed at guiding but not restricting the designer, to support reflection and opening up, but not limiting.

 So, if more attention was payed to the notion of boredom, I think that todays theorizing around design would drastically improve.