Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Nov 2007 16:32 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces The past few weeks, as you surely have noticed, I have written a few articles on various usability terms [part I | part II | part III | part IV | part V]. I explain what they mean, their origins, as well as their implications for graphical user interface design. Even though the series is far from over, I would like to offer a bit more insight into why I am diving into these subjects.
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What a tease...
by JonathanBThompson on Tue 13th Nov 2007 17:30 UTC
JonathanBThompson
Member since:
2006-05-26

You go into all this introduction about what you're talking about, and then you explain almost nothing! For shame! ;)

Have you thought of going into writing serials, cliffhangers, etc.? ;)

It's very hard to comment on the meat of the article when all that's there is the appetizer, but yes, I could have told you years ago, change for the sake of change in a GUI isn't well-received, and I admit to being one of them: when Windows XP came out with the Luna(tic) interface, I immediately switched it to Windows Classic decor, because it worked perfectly fine, amongst other things. That, and I got the impression that it was faster that way, compared to the newer GUI, and whether that is/was true or not (I wasn't using the latest video card) that was the perception, and really, all that seems to be most important to users about a GUI is perception, until you actually do objective studies with users and a stopwatch.

Reply Score: 7

RE: What a tease...
by Priest on Tue 13th Nov 2007 17:35 UTC in reply to "What a tease..."
Priest Member since:
2006-05-12

"System Properties > Advanced > Performance > Settings > Adjust for best performance" is how I roll.

Reply Score: 1

RE: What a tease...
by Jesuspower on Tue 13th Nov 2007 19:22 UTC in reply to "What a tease..."
Jesuspower Member since:
2006-01-28

Classic saves 20 megs over Luna...
That said,
Whoohoo!
I cant wait to see this out.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: What a tease...
by renhoek on Tue 13th Nov 2007 23:44 UTC in reply to "What a tease..."
renhoek Member since:
2007-04-29

simply stopping the theme server will work. so i'm left with some huge window borders, but at least i have left teletubby-land

Reply Score: 1

Wha'?
by FreeGamer on Tue 13th Nov 2007 17:53 UTC
FreeGamer
Member since:
2007-04-13

It's great to have a popular news site because you can abuse it to hype up something that not only doesn't exist, but is not even a concept. It's a concept of a concept.

Don't get me wrong, the usability articles are great, but this article belongs in a Thom Holwerda blog post and not on the front page of OSNews.

It may have been excusable if you'd posted the design document, but you've not even got that, just an idea. You just wasted everybody's time hyping up your own inconcrete proposal.

Reply Score: 33

RE: Wha'?
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 13th Nov 2007 18:01 UTC in reply to "Wha'?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Don't get me wrong, the usability articles are great, but this article belongs in a Thom Holwerda blog post and not on the front page of OSNews.


I) OSNews IS a blog.
II) WE get to decide what belongs on the front page.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Wha'?
by leos on Tue 13th Nov 2007 18:43 UTC in reply to "RE: Wha'?"
leos Member since:
2005-09-21

I) OSNews IS a blog.


Perhaps in the loosest sense, but it's more like a news site. Just like Slashdot is not a blog.

II) WE get to decide what belongs on the front page.


Of course, but what exactly are you trying to accomplish with a posting about a concept containing almost no information? There is nothing in there to make an intelligent comment on, so don't be surprised when the comments are few and irreverent.

Reply Score: 16

RE[3]: Wha'?
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 13th Nov 2007 18:52 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Wha'?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Of course, but what exactly are you trying to accomplish with a posting about a concept containing almost no information? There is nothing in there to make an intelligent comment on, so don't be surprised when the comments are few and irreverent.


Err, that is only natural. The comments are/will be made on the usability terms articles. I just wanted to explain the why behind the apparently sudden interest and eagerness on my end.

Edited 2007-11-13 18:55 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Wha'?
by FreeGamer on Tue 13th Nov 2007 20:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Wha'?"
FreeGamer Member since:
2007-04-13

OSNews is not a blog. A blog is a personal web log. This place has editors. That makes it a news site. If OSNews called itself a blog on the front page, fewer people would follow it.

Reply Score: 12

RE[2]: Wha'?
by Ventajou on Tue 13th Nov 2007 21:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Wha'?"
Ventajou Member since:
2006-10-31

The blog is there in case you forgot:
http://www.osnews.com/staff/

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Wha'?
by phoenix on Wed 14th Nov 2007 00:24 UTC in reply to "RE: Wha'?"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

I) OSNews IS a blog.


You certainly have a strange definition of "blog", considering "blog" means "personal web log" to the rest of the world. As in, only 1 person writes the articles, usually one per day, that people can comment on. The main criteria for a blog is that there is only 1 author for all the articles.

II) WE get to decide what belongs on the front page.


That right there is what prevents OSNews from being a blog. You can't have editors, and decision makers, and call yourself a blog. That would make it a news site. Hence the name as well.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Wha'?
by Oliver on Wed 14th Nov 2007 00:40 UTC in reply to "RE: Wha'?"
Oliver Member since:
2006-07-15

>WE get to decide what belongs on the front page.

Sure, as long if you have to majority of the users behind your 'blog'. A blog is more than just news/articles together with some comments. Btw. time for a change of the title, OSnews doesn't fit anymore - but that's just an opinion usus in a blog.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Wha'?
by WereCatf on Wed 14th Nov 2007 08:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Wha'?"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I) OSNews IS a blog.

Blog? Really? Why is OSNews advertised as a news site, why does it not say "blog" in anywhere on the front page except "Staff Blog", and why is there such a section if this whole site is a blog anyway? Isn't that like..err, duh? I'm not saying anything about this article in question, all I'm saying is that OSNews is most definitely not a blog.

Reply Score: 2

Heh
by leos on Tue 13th Nov 2007 17:57 UTC
leos
Member since:
2005-09-21

The thing about introductions, being of an introductory nature, is that they tend to, well, introduce things.

While technically you have fullfilled the bare minimum requirements to qualify as an introduction, you seem to have confused a personal introduction with a technical one. As in, "Hi my name is Leo", versus "Hi my name is Leo, my body is composed 65% of oxygen, 18% carbon, 10% hydrogen, and 7% miscellaneous evil."

Reply Score: 4

Which Creative Commons license?
by aank45 on Tue 13th Nov 2007 18:34 UTC
aank45
Member since:
2005-08-04

Please, specify if you're using a free (a'la Attribution or Attribution-ShareAlike) or non-free (a'la Attribution-ShareAlike-NonCommercial or anything else with NC or ND clause) Creative Commons license. It does matter.

Reply Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Please, specify if you're using a free (a'la Attribution or Attribution-ShareAlike) or non-free (a'la Attribution-ShareAlike-NonCommercial or anything else with NC or ND clause) Creative Commons license. It does matter.


The non-commercial clause will NOT be in this document's CC license. I want to enable ANYONE to use the ideas I will put forth, commercial or free, proprietary or Free.

Edited 2007-11-13 18:39 UTC

Reply Score: 2

That was clever Thom...
by nonesuch on Tue 13th Nov 2007 19:15 UTC
nonesuch
Member since:
2007-11-13

"My birthday's coming up in a couple weeks, guys! Who's got presents?" ;)

But in all seriousness, I agree about making interfaces more literal, more physical. This is why I believe the touchscreen is the way forward: it enables direct manipulation instead of indirect, through a mouse. It is one less layer of abstraction from the physical. I had a real "A-HA!" moment the first time I used a Palm Pilot, and I still believe it is the interface of the future.

Reply Score: 3

RE: That was clever Thom...
by Moochman on Wed 14th Nov 2007 06:09 UTC in reply to "That was clever Thom..."
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

I agree entirely. I had the same "aha" moment with a Psion netBook. Now I've gotten rid of it, though, and missing the intuitive experience...

Reply Score: 2

a few questions and observations for Thom
by andrewg on Tue 13th Nov 2007 19:32 UTC
andrewg
Member since:
2005-07-06

Would this article have made it onto the site if Random Joe had written it? Is there any merit in it. I mean your name is not the same as say a Jeff Raskin. I can see the usability articles making it. They stand on their own and don't need explanation.

What makes OSNews qualify as a blog site? I know you link to Blog sites but isn't it more of an OS News aggregation site with a forum component? There appear to be editorials and news. No mention of blogs anywhere.

Anyway good luck with your 'GROW' work I am sure it will be worth the effort.

Reply Score: 12

Direct Object Manipulation Interfaces
by rajj on Tue 13th Nov 2007 20:22 UTC
rajj
Member since:
2005-07-06

AKA limiting one's self to what can be modeled as physical objects and what one can do with them.

Instead of formating text into a buffer with a scrolling view port that we can control conveniently with the keyboard and is relatively simple to implement, we'll simulate reading a book wholesale.

First, the book will be modeled in 3d so that the book reading experience will be as rich and immersive as possible. The pages of the book can be bent and crumpled in the manner that real paper can; it can even be torn and burnt (the virtual blow torch application will come later). To change pages, you have to carefully (as you'll see why later) "grab" the edge of each page with the mouse and pull the page over. Sometimes the pages are a bit sticky and you'll need to separate them. Other times, an occasional gust of wind will blow the book clear off the desk. We'll even model the binding of the book breaking down so that after a few hundred page turns it begins to fall apart. I guess you should be forced to buy a new copy when this happens with DRM.

I suppose after everyone starts using the Sony book reader to read books, a paper book won't be familiar anymore. So, we'll just simulate the book reader instead.

Edited 2007-11-13 20:26

Reply Score: 4

blog? news?
by tmp23 on Tue 13th Nov 2007 20:40 UTC
tmp23
Member since:
2007-11-13

i do agree with it: this is merely a concept of a concept and absolutely pointless-- except for realizing the rude
and harsh answer of a certain blog editor, defending his own story is not really the kind of stuff i want to read.
i used osnews (as the name states) as a newssite, now learning that this is a private blog just makes me go away like this:

Reply Score: 6

RE: blog? news?
by Adam S on Tue 13th Nov 2007 20:45 UTC in reply to "blog? news?"
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

Funny - you registered TODAY. You've posted ONE comment. Not exactly much of a loss, is it?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: blog? news?
by iphitus on Thu 15th Nov 2007 07:31 UTC in reply to "RE: blog? news?"
iphitus Member since:
2006-03-27

have you ever logged out?

You can read OSNews without logging in you know, I did for ages.

Reply Score: 1

I completely understood his intent.
by Tanner on Tue 13th Nov 2007 21:13 UTC
Tanner
Member since:
2005-07-06

Cmon, frustrated geeks..
No need to complain about Thom's temporarily "egocentrism". He just wanted to show you a decent introduction to something he thinks is worth hyping.

Personally, it worked for me, since I really want to read more about his GROW ideas.

Human Interfaces is a crucial topic to me, ever if I'm only a "script kiddie" and not a real programmer.

Please stop figuring out if Osnews is a blog or not..
You completely missed the point.

Edited 2007-11-13 21:16

Reply Score: 2

OMRebel Member since:
2005-11-14

Cmon, frustrated geeks..
No need to complain about Thom's temporarily "egocentrism". He just wanted to show you a decent introduction to something he thinks is worth hyping.

Personally, it worked for me, since I really want to read more about his GROW ideas.

Human Interfaces is a crucial topic to me, ever if I'm only a "script kiddie" and not a real programmer.

Please stop figuring out if Osnews is a blog or not..
You completely missed the point.


I agree completely!

Psst - is it a blog?

Reply Score: 1

3 sentence wonder?
by robinh on Tue 13th Nov 2007 21:42 UTC
robinh
Member since:
2006-12-19

I like ideas which can be summed up as succinctly as possible. How short will yours go? ;)

Reply Score: 2

When there will be more?
by iovar on Tue 13th Nov 2007 21:51 UTC
iovar
Member since:
2007-11-13

Are we talking about GUI's or window management?
Or maybe both?

The example with the tree seems like a reverse border
snap, i.e. instead of sticking the moving window on
the closest one, push everything back to make space.

That would be something relatively easy to do on
current WM's, but I'm not sure how usefull it would
be.

Or maybe you mean interactivity in the application
level? As in, when you move your file manager next to
a media player, the file manager becomes a file
browser for the media player application?


In any case, I'm not a big fan of implicit actions,
even if they look more natural.
I mean, dropping a book on my desk might make some
papers fly around, even drop them off the desk, but
why would I want this behavior emulated on my
computer?


At this point, I think that posting more information
about Grow, will not only satisfy our curiosity, but
it might also help you create something that will
actually be used, instead of a long document that
comes out of the blue and few will ever bother with.

Edited 2007-11-13 21:52

Reply Score: 2

RE: When there will be more?
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 13th Nov 2007 22:11 UTC in reply to "When there will be more?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

At this point, I think that posting more information
about Grow, will not only satisfy our curiosity, but
it might also help you create something that will
actually be used, instead of a long document that
comes out of the blue and few will ever bother with.


Maybe I'll whip something preliminary up, but I'm not giving any promises. You see, it might lead to people getting the wrong idea of what Grow is. That's why I've remained so vague here.

Reply Score: 1

Um...
by gabrielwalker on Tue 13th Nov 2007 22:26 UTC
gabrielwalker
Member since:
2006-05-30

...So you're saying I'd like using my PC more if there was a big tree shedding its leaves and dying as a backdrop, instead of wallpaper?

I think I missed something in the "vagueness" you've got going here.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Introducing Grow
by Sabon on Tue 13th Nov 2007 22:52 UTC
Sabon
Member since:
2005-07-06

1) Animated desktop where the desktop is aware of you moving windows around.

-- This goes back to around 1997 or about ten years ago. Someone had created a program for OS/2 that had no borders and looked to anyone that didn't know, as if it were the OS/2 desktop. It literally copied everything off the real desk top and passed any commands onto OS/2 and then display what happened. It was buggy and the programmer ran into walls on OS/2, mostly due to ignorance of how some system things worked.

It was pretty cool though. One of the "desktops" he had was a forest with a bear that would stay hidden until you stopped working on your computer for whatever sleep period you had assigned. Then it would pop out above, below, or between windows. If there wasn't any room to do this it would take its paw and move windows apart so it could peak through. Pretty cool. Of course when you activated any input device the bear would hide again.

Moving windows did cause a little bit of tree movement but not much. He also experimented with having windows that were used fade into the back ground using OpenGL.

At the time of all of this, graphic cards and programming and the guy just weren't up to what he really wanted to do. I accidentally bumped into him on a message board and tried out different things he did. Once he ran into the walls he couldn't figure out how to get past he lost all of his steam and disappeared and didn't respond to e-mails after that.

Again it was really buggy and slow.

2) Moving windows around and having you feel that you are moving them over each other.

I can't remember which mouse company that did this. But one came out with a mouse that you could "feel" when you went over the edge of a window or over specific icons. Not enough people found it useful so I think it just died too.

Reply Score: 2

or as we say ...
by aseigo on Wed 14th Nov 2007 00:02 UTC
aseigo
Member since:
2005-07-06

> (what I call) "physical interface"

we've been talking about such interface concepts for years and coined the term "organic interfaces" to describe them.

it encompasses more than just physics type simulations, but also graphical effects that take advantage of various hardwired human mental traits / capabilities / limitations, presentation modes that avoid violating rules enforced in nature, etc..

Reply Score: 5

RE: or as we say ...
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 14th Nov 2007 14:13 UTC in reply to "or as we say ..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

we've been talking about such interface concepts for years and coined the term "organic interfaces" to describe them.


Organic, physical... I prefer the latter term because it covers the subject better (for me). But yeah, they're both accurate enough terms.

it encompasses more than just physics type simulations, but also graphical effects that take advantage of various hardwired human mental traits / capabilities / limitations, presentation modes that avoid violating rules enforced in nature, etc..


That was indeed more or less what I was thinking about, but as I explained, I'm forced to drop those ideas because it would be way too different from what we have now - nobody would want to implement or use it. We are stuck with the traditional windowed desktop interface/metaphor for now, so I believe it makes more sense to make improvements in that paradigm where possible - we can always brainstorm about more radical changes.

Some of those ideas WILL be in Grow 2.0, but just not as encompassing and radical as I had in mind.

Edited 2007-11-14 14:17 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: or as we say ...
by aseigo on Wed 14th Nov 2007 20:02 UTC in reply to "RE: or as we say ..."
aseigo Member since:
2005-07-06

> nobody would want to implement or use it

if you do it all at once, i agree.

but if you introduce concepts in the software bit by bit over enough time people will eventually get on board. so instead of expecting everything to change in one rev, get involved and start making changes in the code that work towards that eventuality. =)

Reply Score: 3

Enough bickering!
by jason_ff on Wed 14th Nov 2007 01:03 UTC
jason_ff
Member since:
2006-06-29

Even though his introduction to Grow was a little vague, at least he's giving us something. Maybe it's a confusing concept to grasp or maybe he just hasn't totally defined the concept himself, but either way he's excited to share with people.

The articles about UIs were great and somewhat eye opening, and I agree, there are many things that need to be improved. I've had lots of ideas of my own too, although not enough skill yet to implement them. I look forward to seeing his ideas and possibly where they fit in with my own.

Good work, Thom.

Reply Score: 1

Maximizing human intellect
by Zakalwe on Wed 14th Nov 2007 01:28 UTC
Zakalwe
Member since:
2007-11-14

It's a shame that after decades of development computers still do not work as intuitively as the original concepts of people like Vannevar Bush, Ted Nelson, Alan Kay, Douglas Engelbart, Jef Raskin prophetized. Computers and similar devices should help us to maximize our intellect, ease our communication and generally make us happy. In today's reality computers are mostly dumb, asking us unintelligible questions in meaningless dialogs (for example if the user wants to remove shared library xyz because it may be needed by another application, other than the application the user wants to uninstall...how could the user possible know, the computer itself should be aware of it's inner workings).

Revolutionizing the UI of todays operating systems is very hard, not only because the complexity but mainly of the general nature of it's purpose. You should improve the UI and at the same time try not to alienate your users.
This is why it's easier to start with a less general platform or improve small parts of existing systems, for example, improving the UI in computers with a predefined context ( iPhone, the OLPC concept).

Reply Score: 2

RE: Maximizing human intellect
by losethos2 on Wed 14th Nov 2007 04:40 UTC in reply to "Maximizing human intellect"
losethos2 Member since:
2007-10-22

There's a series of books by Issac Asimov called the foundation series. It describes a situation where technological priest understand technology and nobody else. People think technology is miraculous.

There is an effort to hide the details of computers from users, but sometimes, I think users must learn how computers work.

I have this romantic notion that in the 60's, fathers only let their sons drive cars once they knew how they worked.

I think I might be idealistic. I understand how computers work and enthusiastically wish to share, but maybe there's nothing wrong.

I am convinced, however, that sometimes explaining how things really work is less confusing than trying to hide stuff from users.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Maximizing human intellect
by Moochman on Wed 14th Nov 2007 06:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Maximizing human intellect"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

Douglas Engelbart actually suggested having special guides to help normal people navigate through the heaps of information envisioned as being accessible on computer systems. Yet today we have Wikipedia. So the "priest" trend may actually be less prevalent today than some of the "founding fathers" expected.

As for people thinking technology is miraculous: well, that's already the situation. You don't need to delve into a sci-fi novel to imagine that.

Reply Score: 2

Current UIs are actually quite good...
by Belial6 on Wed 14th Nov 2007 05:55 UTC
Belial6
Member since:
2007-06-07

I know that it has become trendy to complain that the current crop of UIs are over a decade old, and that something better should be created, but that's just silly.

In April of 2005, I downloaded and installed Ubuntu 5.04 on a system to use as my 1 year old son's first computer. I loaded up gCompris, and selected the 'game' where you would move the mouse over the blue or red squares to reveal the picture underneath. This moved on to the more complicated task of having to click on squares, and then it repeated with smaller squares. It took him about 2 days to become completely comfortable with the mouse. After that, I showed him the power button on the front of the computer and the Applications menu. He received all of 10 minutes of instruction on how to use the computer.

Within a week, he was perfectly competent to use his computer, and was using applications that I never showed him. Now, if you want to insist that my kid is some kind of bizarre genetic anomaly that makes him into some kind of ultra intelligent superhuman, I won't argue. But even if that unlikely scenario were true, I would expect even a slow 4 year old to be able to match wits with the smartest of 1 year olds. I think it is safe to say that if a user interface can be mastered by a slow 4 year old, (or a mutant 1 year old) the UI has to be pretty darn intuitive.

Improvements in UI would be great, but I'm going to have a hard time taking any adult's opinion on UI seriously if they are having trouble with a UI a 1 year old child can use with ease.

Reply Score: 2

losethos2 Member since:
2007-10-22

We have childrens books and adult books. A child mode might be good. That doesn't mean other modes are bad.

Reply Score: 0

monodeldiablo Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't know what books you read, but I've never come across an adult book that was easier to read than a children's book. ;)

The previous poster's point was that, if his 1 year old can quickly become comfortable with a UI, any adult should. If usability is the whole point, how could an "adult" mode be more usable if loads of adults are still having real issues with "child" mode.

Personally, my years of development, testing, support, and UI design have reinforced that there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who try and those who don't.

The people who "don't try" seem to live in constant fear of breaking things. Moving buttons around or making interfaces more "intuitive" doesn't seem to help these people, as they only use elements they already know how to use. Essentially, they learn -- not by trial and error, as children do -- but by being explicitly told what to click on, and when. They don't explore. They don't optimize their workflow. When they encounter something new or unexpected, they freeze and request a resident "magician" guide them through.

Redefining the workspace in terms and concepts that these people will understand is noble, but ultimately useless, I think. At its heart, computing is a complex activity that appeals to some minds and is completely foreign (or in the least, uninteresting) to others. Simplifying and familiarizing computing for the users who "don't try" may be a vain endeavor, just as you can't make driving any easier without limiting a driver's options (at which point, they'd be better off on a train). For these people, changing the metaphor means that they will have to learn their intricate processes all over again, step by step.

My boss told me an interesting thing not long ago: She, a pharmacist with no CS training, felt more at home on the command line of a VAX in 1982 than she does in Vista or OS X. It was simpler, more predictable, less distracting and disorganized.

For all our supposed "gains" in usability, a lot of it has just been flash and sparkle, with little discernable improvement in efficiency or proficiency. That said, I wish you luck.

Reply Score: 4

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Redefining the workspace in terms and concepts that these people will understand is noble, but ultimately useless, I think.


Exactly, which is why I'm not going to do that. It was my original plan (Grow 1.0), but I quickly realised it wouldn't work (as said in the article).

That's why I'm focussing on small improvements to today's interfaces now. Tweaks here, changes there, to make it just a little less infuriating and more predictable. If you read the usability terms articles, you can definitely see some elements of Grow 2.0 shining through already.

Edited 2007-11-14 08:39 UTC

Reply Score: 1

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

I know it's lame and all, but... me too.

I've tried to articulate this several times myself, but you say it better than I have.

Reply Score: 1

Belial6 Member since:
2007-06-07

Your kidding right? Children's books are the same as adult books except simpler. Just as I am not going to trust the reading advice from an adult that has difficulty with a children's book, I am not going to trust an adult's opinion on UI that cannot handle a UI a 1 year old can handle easily.

Last year, I was using a rule of thumb. If an adult cannot trivially learn what my 2 year old can, they are not competent to speak on the subject. Do you think that is unfair?

Edited 2007-11-14 07:36

Reply Score: 2

Savior Member since:
2006-09-02

Last year, I was using a rule of thumb. If an adult cannot trivially learn what my 2 year old can, they are not competent to speak on the subject. Do you think that is unfair?

I think you should learn some psychology or biology. So because I cannot be bilingual by listening to other people talking around me, does it mean that I am more stupid than a 2 year old?

No, it doesn't. In the same way, adults have more difficulties learning to use a new application or GUI, because the biological learning phrase has already ended for them. Also, they have other things to do aside from playing around (because that is how children learn) with unintuitive applications; like taking care of their own 2 year olds. ;)

Of course, you are right in that wanting to learn is important. But it is also important to keep the learning curve short.

Reply Score: 2

Belial6 Member since:
2007-06-07

@Savior

I think you should learn some psychology or biology. Because you CAN learn to be bilingual by being put in a fully immersive foreign language environment with anywhere from 1 to dozens of full time language instructors who will happily spend hours on end holding up objects and pronouncing their names. Add to this the very low standard that is applied to a 2 year old to consider them bilingual or fluent in the language. So, yes, if you cannot learning a second language when given the same resources, you are more stupid than a 2 year old. Really the 'kids learn languages easier' myth is a perfect example of bad research. I have known literally hundreds of people that have become as fluent as a 2 year old in a second language with only a few hours a week of study in a non-immersive environment. The facts just don't support your premise.

@losethos2

No, I explicitly stated that the current crop of GUIs are simple and intuitive. I also stated that if an adult has trouble with the current crop, I do not believe them to be competent enough on the subject to have meaningful input. As to me wanting to promote my OS of choice... That is clearly a reactionary response with no thought behind it. I neither indicated what OS I would endorse, nor limited my praise to a particular OS. Some OS UIs that I would include in what are fundamentally the same would be Windows, Gnome, KDE, MacOS, OSX, OS/2, AmigaOS, TOS, GeOS, BeOS, PocketPC, and... Drum roll please... LosethOS. That's right. Reimplementing the same old interfaces using text instead of graphics is neither new nor different.

All of these OSes have different levels of refinement, and some might have different foceses, but they are all fundamentally the same UI. A competent user of Windows or Gnome are easily going to figure out how to run a program on TOS or Amiga with little trouble.

As for being as you say "Retarded"... Maybe you should look inward when you use that word to try and support the position that a UI that is intuitive for the illiterate are not intuitive for the literate. Hot keys are great and all, but they are far from intuitive. They are something that give greater functionality when you have moved past the intuitive phase and have moved into the trained phase. A screen full of text MIGHT be more productive to someone that has learned where the text should be for particular applications, but just because someone can read well, and can sort text from a jumble on the screen does not mean that pictures stop being intuitive.

Reply Score: 1

losethos2 Member since:
2007-10-22

2 year olds form an impression of reality. I had to adapt my view of reality in adulthood and it's tricky. I have respect for 2-year-olds. They say the Kingdom of God is for childlike for a reason;-)

Edited 2007-11-14 08:07

Reply Score: 0

losethos2 Member since:
2007-10-22

Your implication is that we've arrived at the best UI and you've closed your mind to anything else. I reject the argument that what is good for a child is good for an adult. One simple fact is kids can't read! What a retarded notion it is to proclaim what's good for the illiterate must be good for the literate.

I have invented a new user interface and it works well for me. It's based on keyboard navagation. Some activities, like programming, are primarily based on the keyboard. In user interface school, they teach it's bad to switch between input devices.

My interface is optimal for programming -- the regular tasks you need to do to write and debug programs. Other interfaces might be optimal for web browsing.

Don't be a fool and suggest one size fits all, from infants to post-graduate students.

If you wish to open your mind, see my operating system. Burn a CD and test drive it without installing or look at the video's.

http://www.losethos.com

You're real motivation is to proclaim your operating system as best by distorting facts with silly arguments.

Reply Score: 0

I agree with the intro
by REM2000 on Wed 14th Nov 2007 09:22 UTC
REM2000
Member since:
2006-07-25

I agree with the intro Thom has laid out, it is correct that humans prefer to interact in a more meaningful way.

A very small example of this would be the iPod Touch i use. It uses a touch interface similar to other devices however it differs in it's execution. For example when setting a time for the count down timer you are not presented with a keypad of numbers but with a dial (similar to the rollerdex) you are then able to spin this dials with a flick of your finger, you can flick it fast or move through it slow.

It's a small example but it highlights the need for more feedback from devices. I like the idea of grow, i feel that the classic UI we are all used to today could do with an overhaul. We have computers which are incredibly powerful, we use them for things we could only dream about 20 years ago, it seems that the only part of the computer which has not evolved is the UI, we are still using a technique invented in the 70's to interact with out computers.

I'm all for eye candy visual feedback, i like the concepts in minority report (sliding data into transparent memory cards) These all work around concepts we understand in the real world.

Reply Score: 2

Openness
by orfanum on Wed 14th Nov 2007 14:34 UTC
orfanum
Member since:
2006-06-02

I have disagreed (silently) with Thom on quite a few things, and I can see why Thom's style might irk some - but I think we are all big girls and boys on this site and can take the rough with the smooth.

However, despite the trumpeting elsewhere on this site as to the concept of openness and how we can all build on ideas positively, no matter how small the original kernel (no pun intended) of the idea might be, precisely because they are shared and shareable, I find the negative, pettifogging and ad hominem positions in reponse to this particular piece somewhat puzzling, yes, shameful, and very much contrary to the concept of 'openness'.

Thom is correct I think in one major point - the use of psychology and especially cognitive psychology by inference to help in the understanding of what happens to the human mind and its attentive abilities when it has to process information visually, as opposed to the linguistic, linear bias we see in current ways of thinking and (appreciation of) apperception.

Also, could the visual objects that Thom is thinking about become 'learning' objects - how could or might data describing their movements and interactions driven by the user be recorded, audited and mined for relationships on an ongoing basis so that the way a desktop experience evolved would be keenly linked to the personality and preferences of the user, and be employed to pre-empt what that user needed without becoming simply a future quantum-computing equivalent of an, just for example, XP informational balloon.

Reply Score: 1

Hang on...
by sorpigal on Wed 14th Nov 2007 18:55 UTC
sorpigal
Member since:
2005-11-02

So here is a concept that UIs should be improved in some unstated way, summarized in the last couple of paragraphs. I agree... but who doesn't? Almost no one thinks current UIs are as good as they can be.

So what was the point of this article?

While I'm here, a word or two on intuitive UIs, as I see them:

The UI is good if when I reflexively attempt to do something I want to do the result I see matches the result I expect, where I is each user individually.

You cannot hope to design one UI that does what I expect all the time, where I is me and you and everyone.

And on a related note... there is a concept among UI wonks that making the screen objects familiar and having them act like physical objects somehow makes interaction easier, functionality more discoverable and users happier. This is, as far as I can tell, mostly nonsense and probably a bad idea.

What happens when the user has no frame of reference for what is happening on screen? They are confused, then they learn how the screen-objects relate and function, then they can use them.

What happens when the user uses an existing frame of reference because the screen lies to him about what is being represented? The user is functional until the object on screen violates expectations by not behaving as he expects it should, then he is confused and annoyed, then he unlearns his assumptions about how the screen objects interact and learns how they really work.

What is the gain of lying to the user like this? Learning has to occur at some point anyway unless the object modal is 100% accurate, which is simply not achievable without some kind of neural interface (and maybe not then).

How many manila folders do you use in a typical week? Probably not many. How deeply do you nest folders within one another? Probably not deeply. The UI-wonk reasoning is therefore that computerized manila folders should not be nested deeply, even though it is extremely useful and natural to do so, in an effort to not violate expectations. This is crazy.

Computer UIs should primarily be built in a way which is most useful for their purpose, disregarding user expectation, and secondarily be built to be tuned by the user to match whatever the user's expectation is, and lastly computer UIs should be internally consistent and consistent between each other in whatever ways possible that do not contradict the first and second points.

Reply Score: 1

The Feynman Problem Solving Algorithm
by dimosd on Thu 15th Nov 2007 15:51 UTC
dimosd
Member since:
2006-02-10

1) Write down the problem.
2) Think very hard.
3) Write down the solution.

1) Write down a very clear description of at least parts of the problem you want to solve
2) Come up with 5 simple, unfinished but already usable guidelines
3) Call it Grow 0.01

Tongue in cheek of course :-)

Reply Score: 1

tyrione Member since:
2005-11-21

G.R.O.W. rings too closely to male enhancement cream.

I would come up with something less related to being sarcastically dug at.

I hope he does something that pushes the envelope and increases one's productivity.

Edited 2007-11-16 10:06

Reply Score: 2