Ari Davidow (ari) Tue 17 Oct 06 14:14
An earlier comment by Dan really interests me, "The Open Source community is going to need some designers in it". It's certainly true in the abstract sense. I wonder if there are any extant projects where the coding team involves an experienced and/or trained designer of some appropriate sort? I can't think of any, but my experience is shallow. It is true in my experience that open source projects tend to have ill-conceived, poorly executed interfaces, and I hear the same sentiment from others. If true, how do we get designers involved in such projects?
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 17 Oct 06 14:34
(reposting 100 -- omission of a word made it say something i didn't mean.) Hi, also lurking, enjoying this, and wishing it would never end. What a lot of good insights here. One thing that always occurs to me about computer mediated communication is that whether one has an avatar, or uses emoticons, or writes things like "Oh, yes! What a cool idea!" to communicate emotion, non orf these is the same as face to face interations where emotions leak and spill out. Simple old-fashioned voice messages, live on the phone or even asynchronous in voicemail, carry much more authentic emotional content can be conveyed in written words alone. Even the best actor will lose it when something truly shakes them up. Add to this ability to hear emotional subtext in voices those other special talents we have for picking up on blushing, expressions, body language, even the scent of fear... and in-person is still where it's at. Emotional information rather than projection enfuses most interactions. Seems to me that in many ways our emotional interactions via computers are currently like playing with marionettes, signalling feelings rather than revealing them, both within and outside of gaming evniroments. I think if we were able to leap past that barrier we'd add a whole other dimenision to social software.
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 17 Oct 06 14:35
than can be conveyed, it should say. Damn my bad proofreading.
Dan Saffer (dansaffer) Tue 17 Oct 06 21:28
Getting designers involved in open source projects has been a bit of a Holy Grail for a while now, one that I am completely ill-equipped to advise on. How do you get a design approved by a large, distributed network of developers? I have no idea. My only thought around this is getting the Open Source community to start using something like Yahoo's UI Widget library in their work.
Dan Saffer (dansaffer) Tue 17 Oct 06 21:39
It's a challenge, for sure, conveying analog, emotional nuance via digital means. It's almost a bandwidth issue: face to face communication and contact is extremely high bandwidth. You are seeing, hearing, smelling, and possibly touching people and their environment, receiving tons of data every second--more than our brains can process in fact (I think I read that somewhere, but I can't find the reference). How do you get all that through even the fastest tubes? That being said, there's a lot of work being down now in the field of emotion and design. There's lots of ways we can make our emotional presence felt via social software and our personal devices. One I saw even involved a marionette-like puppet that sat next to a computer and "acted out" the IM that was going on. Weird stuff.
Cupido, Ergo Denego (robertflink) Wed 18 Oct 06 09:17
>face to face communication and contact is extremely high bandwidth. You are seeing,hearing, smelling, and possibly touching people and their environment,receiving tons of data every second--more than our brains can process in fact (I think I read that somewhere, but I can't find the reference).< Very little of the communication is going on at the conscious, mostly abstract, level in fact. This is often overlooked because of the modern bias toward thinking that we are totally (OK, mostly) conscious. The effort to abstract has considerable value in itself, however. I've noticed that people often expect intimate relationships to operate with little abstraction or conscious analysis. A grunt or whine should suffice to get the partner to do what is expected. Too much consciousness seems to spoil the mystery. Perhaps this is a subliminal issue when it comes to designing for interaction
Trevor van Gorp (trevorvangorp) Wed 18 Oct 06 10:47
Actually, most of our communication is processed unconsciously, and responded to emotionally in an unconscious fashion. This is another reason that attention is so important. Often, our unconscious emotional responses wind up demanding and commanding our attention much of the time. It's another way that design should be utilizing our unconscious responses to direct attention at the appropriate time to the appropriate things. For example, you pay more attention (at least initially) to a page where the type has higher contrast against the background. A good web example would be the status window in BaseCamp, which quickly changes colour to something more attention grabbing (in this case yellow from white) when a file is uploaded, and then fades back to normal. This utilizes unconscious emotional responses to colour to direct attention. This doesn't qualify as subliminal, since it is noticable, but is still equally powerful.
Dan Saffer (dansaffer) Wed 18 Oct 06 11:21
Right, this is all absolutely true. We're taking in all this data and responding to it both consciously and unconsciously. One thing we could do is build in more ambient cues into our devices. I type differently and use different phrasing when I'm annoyed or angry over IM. Why couldn't the form of my messages reflect that? (This would be really hard to do well, however.)
Dan Saffer (dansaffer) Wed 18 Oct 06 11:23
BTW, everyone, this is the last "official" day of this Inkwell interview. If you have any final questions or discussion topics, now is the time to air them. After today, I'll check in occasionally, but I can't keep up this running dialog forever, as fun as it is. :)
Trevor van Gorp (trevorvangorp) Wed 18 Oct 06 12:04
Are you suugesitng that, for example, the typeface of your message would shift to reflect your emotional state? This is one feature that would require an override, since there's times that I don't want the perosn on the other side of my email or IM conversation to know how I'm really feeling, just like in face-to-face interaction. ;)
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Wed 18 Oct 06 12:14
As Dan says, this is the last official day of what's been a terrific talk. Thanks, Dan and James!
Trevor van Gorp (trevorvangorp) Wed 18 Oct 06 12:19
Indeed... thanks Dan and Jim! Good talking with you both.
Barry (barryp) Wed 18 Oct 06 16:09
I've enjoyed it and learned a lot. Thanks!
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 18 Oct 06 16:21
Quite thought-provoking. Thank you and keep up the good work!
Dan Saffer (dansaffer) Wed 18 Oct 06 16:43
That's one possible suggestion. Another could be that your icon subtly changes. Any number of ways. But like all changes like this, it would have to be pretty subtle so that it doesn't get annoying overwhelming. And yes, there needs to be a way to tell your device to knock it off. :)
Dan Saffer (dansaffer) Wed 18 Oct 06 16:44
You're welcome everyone. And a special thanks to Jim for both his questions and answers!
James Leftwich, IDSA (jleft) Wed 18 Oct 06 22:03
Yes, thanks so much Dan. Your book is a really valuable addition to our discipline, and I've enjoyed the opportunity to have this discussion with you immensely! And thanks to everyone else that came and participated!
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