Bill Verplank Keynote at the Interaction '11 Conference in Boulder, Colorado
Bill Verplank spoke at Interaction '11 in Boulder, Colorado on Interaction Design and systems. It was my favorite speech of the entire conference. It gave me a better model with which to understand the world.
This person is a teacher
To be taught is a relief
He studied urban planning at MIT
And cybernetics+control systems
He understands design
Trading control back ad forth between the machine and you
This back and forth is haptics
Sometimes you want tight reins and sometimes you want loose ones
Those making automobiles that auto break have been using this analogy
This is the first time I've seen someone draw using a projector in 10 years -- as designers we put things between people and the world
How to do you do something to the world?
How do you feel the world?
How do you know the world?
These are three questions of designers.
Give people a button or a handle
A piano is buttons
A trombone is a handle
Good pianos have a lot of feel to them
There are trombones with valves/buttons, which are both
Symbolic and analogic hardware
Designing robots to explore the sea floor
Designers design between people and the world
People are confused what analog and digital are
Good signal processors know about this
To get the signal out of the world and back into the world
Cool media and hot media --- incomplete and laid back, cartoons and sketches
Hot media there's no question what it is
The world of feeling is more an art world
The difference between hot and cool mediums is sending someone a cartoon as an invitation and a formal invite. The medium must match the message.
City planners say people have maps
And they understand something because of the maps they have in their heads
So you can have a simple path vs an entire map
One two three - this is how you get off the airplane, and to here or there.
You can have a map or a path You can have a preference of one over the other
One of the first questions you can have about a system is this: "Is that is it going to be a map or a path?"
Consider two vending machines, one with a logo on it is very path like. "Here's where you put your money and get your item". And the vending machine with clear glass and codes is a map.
If this machine screws up - you can see it. It's a glass box system, not a black box system. It shows its guts.
If you were to make a choice for installing this in the lobby which would you choose? (Everyone in the audience chose maps).
But to maximize profit -- don't use the map machine. Why? Because people will engage with it ---
But with the path machine people just get the item. It's very direct.
How do you understand what someone is thinking?
Have them draw you a map.
Then make it a path
And back into a map and so on
Until you understand
Drag is a handle, tap is a button - a mouse is both handle and button
I believe that the most successful interfaces combine the two.
Why do we put arrows in diagrams?
We think there is some sequence
I did a phd in control systems at MIT. And I learned that if you're trying to control something you need some feedback about what the final state is. One of the fundamental idea of systems is feedback. What's the goal - what are we trying to accomplish. What is the type of feedback I need in order to understand what's going on in a system? This tells me how I can apply the appropriate control to achieve a state.
There's also the idea of not controlling something, but playing it.
A Quick history of interaction design
Base it on what some people call mentalities
When we were born, we started out with kinesthetic knowledges. We already knew how to grab and suck. This is Enactive technology. (Enactive knowledge is knowledge that comes through action and it is constructed on motor skills, such as manipulating objects, riding a bicycle or playing a sport. The Enactive knowledge of entities are the ones acquired by doing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enaction).
Piaget studied how people develop skills (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Piaget).
Second in development is iconic or visual thinking - the image is what matters. Kids don't get this until they are around five years old.
Bruner interpreted Piaget's analysis and determined that symbolic thinking happens later. This is evident when one studies
Algebra and so on. They operate on the symbols to get icons that represent something, and then they act on those icons.
We don't go from do see know.
Adult intelligence is to be able to deal with symbols
Whether they are words or symbols or maths
Einstein thinks kinesthetically - thinks of moving bodies and then makes them into symbols in his physics.
Alan Kay - created smalltalk at xerox.
As you develop your thinking by seeing it and observing the results
You can create this form of knowledge that can be transferred
Some professions depend on one of these skills
What of these are your most developed lobe?
Ecology of thinking is something we need to have in our schools
Teletype machine with paper tape
And they've established a certain type of computing which still exists
With a teletype the type of interaction is a dialog
When the idea of the computer was to make it more intelligent
An intelligent agent who was going to go off and do something for you
Can it understand natural language and so on?
Right now we have to learn a language of computers
And a whole profession came out of this - of teaching computers and expecting them to be like humans and be intelligent
And this became artificial intelligence
And now these are teletype windows on their machines
Mac has taken over in comp sci departments
Because you can bring up a teletype window
And type those tactile commands into the window
At IBM they determined that their interface would be visual
So they created icons
And you could do to that icon of a piece of paper what you could do to a real piece of paper.
I have some real problems with buttons that are not tangible
This interface is now called a GUI
Relies on images on the screen
In Europe it was called wimp
Wimp stands for ...?
There were some amazing things that happened at xerox because there are bitmap screens. We had laser printers
Most importantly everyone agreed that the most important thing was the printers (Because you were able to put data back into reality)
Anyone ever been to a CHI conference? I don't recommend anyone goes anymore
Most are computer scientists and psychologists
CSCW and DIS were then created
CSCW was about computer systems for cooperative work
User, use, usability. To be a user you have to have some sort of task. Some task you're trying to accomplish. You're interested in having an easy time of it. we will make your computer user friendly That was a term people liked: a friendly computer
Early psychiatric bots - like ElIza
Weizebbaum turned on the AI community
Englebart said, "I don't want to replace humans, I want to augment them"
Underlying it all
Is that the computer is a tool
You want a good tool that is powerful that you can use effectively
I argue that down to a last few years we're onto another paradigm
This moves from symbolic to iconic to inactive. Which means the wii (or location based technologies).
And the kinect
We've missed out on the Enactive sector of computing
TEI -- conference tries to do this.
Tangible user interfaces - Hiroshi iishi
I'd like to see alittle more haptics thrown into our products
As we've gone from computer as a person where intelligence and language is important
To symbolic - iconic - interface - is the notion of what I'm operating with is a tool - I think this has been the definition for many for the last 25 years.
Media -/ I suspect most of you don't talk about users and tasks, language and autonomy -- but about connecting me to other people.
(He begins drawing on the board the diagram from Bill Moggridge;s book Designing interactions)
Some people think of computers as media
Some as tools
Some as humans, etc
But... As something you enjoy
As something that engages you
A potential consumer - someone who will buy or learn something because you've been able to communicate a message through the medium
I think media is quickly moving into fashion
There's a lot of fashion in media
I think jobs understands fashion
You can move from being - Winograd at MIT --- We're not just designing tools that are useful: we are designing life forms. Sims
Having programs compete against each other The idea of evolution
Its more socially acceptable that machines becoming part of evolution
The idea that it's not a tool - it's a vehicle.
One of the important things about vehicles is that we agree on is containers
How we connect these containers and shift them onto ships.
We agree in signage
Speeds and rails
This is the issue of infrastructure.
One of the most important people who established standards for the digital world was a guy named Bob Prettis at Stanford University. He established ethernet as a standard.
There's also an agreement on how we're going to handle fonts. So Unicode was created.
If you're in the communications business
The differences between how the standards in europe trump the standards of American communication and so we are left behind
You have to hire people who can design things - the fashion
You have to have people who understand ecology - the creatures we're creating
You have to understand that people come at this world from different perspectives
--- end speech