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Friday, November 2, 2012

Different Perspectives

You can look at things from different points of view. And this can help in almost everything you do.

Look at each new point of view as a degree of freedom in understanding. The more degrees of freedom, the more independently your thoughts can move.

With each new degree of freedom, concepts that you once thought of as constant can now change. Perhaps things you once took for granted can become emergent truths of your new frame of mind.

Or become surprisingly refutable.

One thing is certainly true: if you don't at least try to look at things from different perspectives, you become stagnant.

Degrees of Freedom

Look for a dimension along which there is some give and take. Perhaps things are not completely fixed and immutable.

When technology changes, for instance, slippage occurs and a new dimension of possibility opens up. This can cause disruption.

Once it was cheap to send megabytes through the Internet, intangibles like music and movies could be easily sent.

Record stores and video stores died.

So find that degree of freedom before it finds you.

Human Interface

With true-color displays and greater ability to compute, transparency became possible in interfaces. A new dimension opened up: opacity. But in this case, a little overuse quickly showed that things could get confusing.

Nonetheless, in modeless situations that are optional, such as heads-up displays, inspectors, and the like, transparency does still get used.

In UI, transparency really refers to whether the use of a control is obvious. Aside from this attribute, ergonomics and simplicity are also paramount design considerations.

To make an interface item cool without regard to its function is simply gratuitous. I have certainly done that from time to time, but I suspect those days are over. Or are they?

The use of three-dimensional interfaces is another interesting design consideration.

There have been a few attempts at creating fully three-dimensional interfaces, such as SGI's button-fly interface. Our approach to three-dimensional interface is much more sophisticated today, and integrated into our workflow.

Two-year-olds and grandmas alike have been brought to the computer as never before by glass and multitouch.

Nonetheless, Minecraft is quite popular, as is Spore and The Sims, all three-dimensional worlds manipulated directly. It's important to teach three-dimensional thinking.

And it is true that some interfaces appear to be three-dimensional, like Apple's cover flow. Put simply, magic counts.

But form still follows function.

Fit Together

Things must fit together and dovetail perfectly. Seamlessness counts. When human interfaces are inconsistent, something feels wrong. Even to two-year-olds and grandmas.

Both workmanship and workflow fall into one category now: fit.

Once again, when you consider fit as a guide rule, suddenly things might reorganize themselves in a wholly different way. A new pattern emerges because you discovered the right degree of freedom to work from. You found the right perspective.

Did things ever line up quite so right?

The value of your creative output is at stake.

1 comment:

  1. The Ron Resch movie about folding paper forms is on Vimeo!

    I think this dates from the late '60s.