no photo
Columnist
C77 ADMIN
no photo
Columnist
(DISPLAY NAME NOT SET)

Emilie Baltz believes believes food to be the most revealing part of culture and works in multiple mediums, both commercially and artistically, to explore that notion in the most robust way possible. Trained in Film Studies, Photography and Industrial Design, she borrows omnivorously from multiple mediums in order to deliver joyful experiences for consumers. The outputs of this practice are personal and professional, functional and fantastical. Her goal is to provoke delicious new perspectives on the world through social, formal and industrial processes.

Emilie Baltz's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
SHAGGY
no photo
Columnist
DEENA DENARO

Aart van Bezooyen is a Dutch optimist and motivator for materials in design. He lives and works in Hamburg where he founded Material Stories in 2005 to inspire and enable the best use of materials to make design more competitive, creative and sustainable.

2011 he explored sustainable solutions from around the world during the "It's Not Easy Being Green" project with graphic designer Paula Raché. 2012 he co-organized the Materials Café This year, he works at the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle to grow a brand new materials collection. The "Get Inspired" newsletter is keeping readers up to date about materials news, books and events.

Aart van Bezooyen's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
GLEN JACKSON TAYLOR

Michael Doyle is a Detroit-based experience designer and amateur cultural critic. He is interested in the spaces between design, art, music and culture, and has contributed to a variety of design blogs for more than a decade. Michael is a co-founder of the hackerspace OmniCorpDetroit, as well as DJ collectives Dethlab and Dorkwave. When not designing interactive environments for o2, record covers for Ghostly International, or collaborating with the likes of the Hypothetical Development Organization, he may be found playing music at sushi bars or organizing croquet socials in abandoned factories.

Michael Doyle's Recent Posts

Steve Portigal is the founder of Portigal Consulting. In the past 15 years Steve has interviewed families eating breakfast, rock musicians, credit-default swap traders, and radiologists. His work has informed the development of music gear, wine packaging, medical information systems, corporate intranets, videoconferencing systems, and iPod accessories. Steve is an accomplished presenter who speaks about culture, innovation, and design at companies like eBay, Adobe, Nokia, Hewlett-Packard, and Dolby Laboratories. He has a graduate degree in Human-Computer Interaction from the University of Guelph and is an avid photographer who has a Museum of Foreign Groceries in his home.

Design with Personality
Spark:03
The More. The Merrier
Total Recall: Looking Back at 2004?
Shopping for Innovation
Debbie Millman: Design Matter.

LISTEN NOW (39 min.) | Download 35.3MB (right-click)


Nathan Shedroff on Making Meaning

LISTEN
NOW
| Download
41.7MB (right-click)



Chris Miller of LifePlays

LISTEN NOW | Download 33.8MB (right-click)

Steve Portigal's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
CHRIS GIELOW

As Chief Design Officer of Sound United, Michael DiTullo is passionate advocate as well as experienced practitioner of design. In addition to his work at DEI he is a contributor for the well-known design resource, Core77.com. Prior to DEI Michael was Creative Director at the legendary frog design, where he lead teams that worked with Google, Motorola, Honda, Braun, Brooks, Harmon Kardon and Intel. Before frog, DiTullo spent nearly a decade developing several product collections at Nike Inc. Michael is a prolific creative and an unfailing evangelist for our industry as a whole who frequently speaks at conferences and universities. DiTullo has been a core77 contributor since 2003, moderating our discussion forums (as Yo), producing design events, blogging, and producing a series of "5 minute" sketch videos.

Postcards from Palm Springs: Modern Gems in the Desert
Last Man Standing: 80 years of Teague Design
Portland UNKL Offsite Event

Michael DiTullo's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
ALLAN CHOCHINOV

Allan Chochinov is a partner of Core77, a New York-based design network serving a global community of designers and design enthusiasts, and Chair of the new MFA in Products of Design graduate program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Allan lectures around the world and at professional conferences including IDSA, AIGA and IxDA, has been a guest critic at various design schools in including Yale University, IIT, Carnegie Mellon, Ravensbourne, RMIT, University of Minnesota, Emily Carr, and RISD. He has moderated and led workshops and symposia at the Aspen Design Conference, the Rockefeller Center at Bellagio, Compost Modern, and Winterhouse, and is a frequent design competition juror. Prior to Core77, his work in product design focused on the medical, surgical, and diagnostic fields, as well as on consumer products and workplace systems. He has been named on numerous design and utility patents and has received awards from The Art Directors Club, I.D. Magazine, Communication Arts, and The One Club.

Allan Chochinov's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
(DISPLAY NAME NOT SET)
no photo
Columnist
DOMINIC MUREN

Niti Bhan focuses on offering strategic insight for growth opportunities and revenue generation in the rapidly evolving interstitial space between design and business. Her 15 years of experience include employers such McCann Erickson Worldwide, Hewlett Packard India, The Second City and most recently, the Institute of Design. She is an engineer and an MBA whose most significant achievement in the field of design has been dropping out of two graduate design programs on two continents in two centuries - the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and the Institute of Design, Chicago. Her areas of interest are business intelligence and trends, business strategy as well as creating a compelling user case for design as force for increasing value.

Putting the "Desi" in Design
Ecodesign, Ecolabels and the Environment
Shopping for Innovation
Seismic Shift - Changes in the global design industry
While You Were Out

Niti Bhan's Recent Posts
NATE's Recent Posts

Al Dean has been working as a technology writer for the past six years and currently holds the post of Technology Editor on the UK's leading Product Development Technology magazine, MCAD, and is Editor of Prototype, a new quarterly focussing on the Rapid Prototyping and Direct Manufacturing industries. He is also regular contributor to CADserver.co.uk, one of the world's leading providers of CAD and product development technology related web-content. He has contributed his work to numerous publications, including CGI, New Design, IPMatters.com, and Journal for the Institute of Engineering Designers.

IDEO on Digital Design Tools

al dean's Recent Posts

Bruce M. Tharp, PhD is a designer, researcher, entrepreneur, and professor with degrees in mechanical engineering, ID, and anthropology. He and his wife, Stephanie Tharp run an award-winning, Chicago-based design studio, materious.

They have licensed a dozen new product ideas to companies, and currently manufacture several of their own. Bruce teaches a first-of-its-kind, product licensing course at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he is also Director of Graduate Studies.

Materious also produces discursive products and concepts to engender reflection and debate on cultural topics. They’re currently finishing a book project on the topic entitled, Discursive Design.

Bruce M. Tharp's Recent Posts

Stuart Constantine is a founding partner of Core77, a design enterprise based in New York City. He studied History at the University of Connecticut and Industrial Design at Pratt Institute. He has over fifteen years of consulting experience in the design and technology sectors. Prior to his involvement with Core77 he worked as a designer at Lotus Development Corp. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and as a director at Gartner, an IT consulting company in Connecticut. He currently resides in Connecticut with his wife, three young children, a collection of guitars, and a dog.

StuCon's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
(DISPLAY NAME NOT SET)

Cordy Swope is a design strategist and cofounder of normal life, an international product development company. He has directed award-winning programs in consumer understanding for corporations in a wide variety of industries. He can also roll a half dollar on the fingers of his right hand.

My Holiday Gift to Core77
The Imagination Market
Built for Comfort—Not for Speed
Success and the Design of Morality

Cordy Swope's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
(DISPLAY NAME NOT SET)

Don Lehman is a Chicago-based industrial designer and the founder of More/Real, a startup focused on making technology feel invisible. More/Real’s first product, Stylus Caps, turns common pens and markers into touchscreen styluses.

Don has been honored by the IDSA, featured in the CES Innovation Showcase, and his design for the Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug was named by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of the 50 Coolest Designs of the 21st Century. He has contributed to Core since 2001, first with his column, "The Student Life", documenting his design school years at RIT, and since then posting news and columns.

Don Lehman's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
KO
no photo
Columnist
(DISPLAY NAME NOT SET)
no photo
Columnist
BLAINE BROWNELL
no photo
Columnist
STEPHANIE MUNSON
no photo
Columnist
(DISPLAY NAME NOT SET)
no photo
Columnist
TASOS CALANTZIS
author photo
Columnist
CORE JR
no photo
Columnist
(DISPLAY NAME NOT SET)
no photo
Columnist
JEANINE CAUNT

Warren Ginn is Principal of GinnDesign Product Development, in Raleigh, NC where he works his magic merging design, materials and manufacturing processes. Having worked as an industrial designer within in several in-house, design consulting and manufacturing organizations, he's a strong advocate for interdisciplinary collaboration between the designer, engineering, manufacturing and supplier communities. He currently serves on the board of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) as the VP of the Professional Interest Sections. He previously served as chair of the Materials and Processes Section of IDSA for 11 years and is still evangelizing the value of materials and processes education within the industrial design community. He received his degree in Product Design from North Carolina State University.
http://idsamp.wordpress.com

warrenginn's Recent Posts

Mark Vanderbeeken is a senior partner at Experientia, an international experience design consultancy, based in Turin, Italy. He is also the author of the successful experience design blog Putting People First. Mark is a specialist in visioning, identity development and strategic communications and worked in Italy, Denmark, the USA and Belgium. He was communications manager of Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, European communications coordinator for the World Wide Fund for Nature (or WWF), marketing director of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects (USA) and chief press officer of Antwerp 93, Cultural Capital of Europe (Belgium).

Mark Vanderbeeken's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
ROBERT BLINN
author photo
Columnist
HIPSTOMP / RAIN NOE
no photo
Columnist
SINCLAIR SMITH
author photo
Columnist
DAVID WOMACK

David writes about robots, the "Internet", and the occasional monkey for publications including Metropolis, The Guardian, Salon.com, and Eye magazine. He is the editor-in-chief of Adobe ThinkTank, an online journal covering trends in design and technology and consults for Adobe on a variety of issues. He is currently working with the Japan Society on several projects designed to foster creative exchange between Tokyo and New York. David is the co-author, with Steve Heller, of the forthcoming book Becoming a Digital Designer.

Adobe ThinkTank

The Desk of David Womack

David Womack's Recent Posts

Ian Curry first got his hands dirty in design on a Chandler & Price letterpress. Shortly thereafter he moved into the more abstract realms of digital media, and has often looked back.

Ian has done interactive design work for the U.N., Eyebeam R&D, and a range of interesting companies while recently at frog Design's studio in New York. He intermittently teaches undergraduate courses in interaction design at Pratt and Parsons. Currently an interaction designer at Local Projects, he is working to reduce the number of broken-seeming interactive exhibits at area museums. If you walk by his apartment in Brooklyn, you are likely to hear him learning to play the cello.

You can reach Ian at ian[at]heavy-meta[dot]com.

Asking the Beautiful Question: Design and engineering

Ian Curry's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
JEN VAN DER MEER

Alissa Walker writes about design for publications like Good, Fast Company, I.D., and ReadyMade, and is the assistant editor of the California Architect's Newspaper. She can be found on your iPod as the associate producer of the KCRW show "DnA: Design and Architecture." Alissa lives in Hollywood, where she throws ice cream socials, tends to her drought-tolerant gardens, and relishes life in LA without a car. Her new blog, Gelatobaby, offers commentary on design, Los Angeles, food, travel, and Star Wars, and every so often, gelato.

Ze Frank at SXSW
LISTEN NOW (7 min.) | Download 7MB (right-click)
Steve Glenn from LivingHomes
LISTEN NOW (26 min.) | Download 23.7MB (right-click)

Alissa Walker's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
KEVIN MCCULLAGH

Kevin is founder of Plan, a product strategy consultancy based in London that helps companies work out what to do next. As a leading product strategist, over the past 20 years he has consulted for clients including: Samsung, Ford, HP, Lenovo, Mars, Nokia, Orange, 02, P&G, Shell, Unilever and Yamaha.

Before founding Plan in 2004, Kevin was director at the product design consultancy Seymour Powell, and set up one of the first dedicated design strategy teams in Europe.

With a background that spans design, marketing, engineering and social forecasting, Kevin is never short of an opinion or three. He writes, speaks curates and chairs conferences on design, business, and society. He has been published and cited in international journals, including Business Week, FastCompany, Design Management Journal, Core77 and Blueprint. He teaches at CASS Business School in London, and is a visiting fellow at his old design faculty at Northumbria University.

Kevin McCullagh's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
WILLIAM BOSTWICK
author photo
Columnist
DEB JOHNSON

Deb Johnson, is the Academic Director of Sustainability at Pratt Institute and is leading the development of Pratt's new Center for Sustainable Design Studies and Research. She is founder and executive director of the Pratt Design Incubator for Sustainable/Social Enterprise.

She is heads Greenmatter, a green design consultancy and sustainable design think tank. Greenmatter brings designers together to collaborate with people working to change the world.

http://incubator.pratt.edu

Deb Johnson's Recent Posts

Brit Leissler lives and acts between London and Berlin. After receiving a Master degree in product design from the Royal College of Art in London she started her own Shoot the Stylist! design studio. She also works as a design educator for various institutions and founded Punch'n'Cuddle Ltd., producing and distributing her own products.

When taking a break from the design world she writes, sings and composes quirky electronic pop or travels the planet. Brit loves all forms of eccentricity, joins up the dots and aims to get into interesting conversations with all kinds of weird and wonderful people. As a hardcore digital camera gunslinger she shoots everything that moves and grooves. She doesn't eat animals, is hot for cheese, loves the Kensington Squirrels, robotic dance moves and life enhancing ideas.

Brit Leissler's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
MARGARET MAILE
no photo
Columnist
BRYCE

Tad Toulis is the Creative Director of Teague's Seattle-based Design Studio. Prior to joining Teague, Tad worked at Lunar Design, Motorola's Advanced Concepts Group and Samsung's LA LAB. He was also a founding member of designRAW, a San Francisco-based design collective. Tad is a frequent speaker and lecturer at universities, conferences and design symposiums. His work has received numerous awards of distinction and has appeared in publications across the globe.

Tad Toulis's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
MARCIA CAINES
author photo
Columnist
HELEN WALTERS

Helen Walters is a design writer and editor, currently working as an editor and researcher at Doblin, a member of the Monitor Group. Until July 2010, she was editor of innovation and design at Bloomberg BusinessWeek. She's the author of five design-related books and also contributing editor to British design magazine, Creative Review. She tweets.

Helen Walters's Recent Posts

Valerie Casey is a globally recognized designer and innovator. She works with organizations on challenges ranging from creating new products and services, to transforming organizational processes and behaviors. Before starting her own practice, Necessary Projects, in San Francisco, she held executive leadership positions at IDEO, frog, and Pentagram. Casey is the founder of the Designers Accord, the global coalition of designers, educators, and business leaders working together to create positive sustainable impact. Casey was named a “Guru” of the year by Fortune magazine, a “Hero of the Environment” by Time magazine, a “Master of Design” by Fast Company, and one of the “World’s Most Influential Designers” by BusinessWeek. The World Economic Forum has honored Casey as a “Young Global Leader.”

Valerie Casey's Recent Posts

Steven heller is a senior art director of the New York Times and the co-chair (with Lita Talarico) of the MFA Designer as Author Program at the School of Visual Arts. He recently co-founded (with Alice Twemlow) the MFA in Design Criticism at SVA. He is the editor of VOICE: The AIGA Journal of Design and The Nose (with Seymour Chwast). He is contributing editor to PRINT, ID, Eye, Baseline and a contributor to Metropolis, the New York Times Book Review, Varoom, and Grafik. He has edited, co-edited or authored over 100 books on design an popular culture, including "Paul Rand," "Merz to Emigre: Avant Garde Magazine Design of the Tweniteh Century," "Stylepedia: A Gude to Graphic Design Mannerisms, Quirks and Conceits," "Euro Deco: Graphic Design Between the Wars," "Anatomy of Design," "Design Literacy Second Edition," "The Education of a Photographer," "The Graphic Design Reader," "Graphic Wit: The Art of Humor in Design," and "Teaching Illustration." He is currently completing "Iron Fists: Branding the Totalitarian State" for Phaidon Press and is working on a biography of Alvin Lustig. His website is Hellerbooks.com.

Dorm Drop-Off: Making a Nightmare into a Dream


Maira Kalman on the Suitcase Project

LISTEN NOW (10 min.) | Download 13.6MB (right-click)

Frank Luca of the Wolfsonian

LISTEN
NOW
| Download
13.4MB (right-click)

Steven Heller's Recent Posts

Andy Polaine co-founded the award-winning new-media collective Antirom in London working with clients such as the BBC, Levis and The Science Museum as well exhibiting several interactive installations and performances around the world. He was a producer at Razorfish in the UK before moving to Australia where he started the interactive department of visual effects company, Animal Logic. He was Senior Lecturer in Interactive Media and Head of the School of Media Arts at The University of New South Wales, Sydney before moving to Germany. Officially Dr Polaine with a PhD in interactivity and play from UTS, Sydney, Andy is now a Lecturer and Research Fellow in Service Design at the Lucerne School of Art and Design in Switzerland. Alongside his academic work Andy continues to work as a interaction designer, service design research and writer. His own blog is Playpen and he is also the Editor and founder of The Designer's Review of Books



With Nik Roope from Hulger.

LISTEN NOW (39 min.) | Download 35.3MB (right-click)

Andy Polaine's Recent Posts

I'm a multidisciplinary graphic designer and writer living in New York City. My projects have involved designing identities, motion graphics, web sites, exhibition graphics, publications, as well as copywriting and art directing. I look for projects that challenge my thinking and form-making skills, but I'm especially interested in collaborating with non-profits and civic organizations that need help to address complex social problems in ways that might spur lasting social change.

Andrew Shea's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
NATE BERG

Willem Van Lancker is a product designer (UX) at Google with a passion for ethnography, maps, data visualization, and producing delightful user experiences.

Willem came to Google from IDEO where he worked as a communication designer focusing on understanding business systems and organizations through visual communication. Previous to IDEO, Willem worked for Apple, where he designed user interfaces for products including iPhone and iPad, and adidas, where he created new brand identities for various major league sports teams respectively.

Willem is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a degree in Graphic Design. While at RISD, Willem teamed with a small group of Brown and RISD students to create A Better World by Design, a now-annual three-day conference encouraging social and environmental impact within educational policy. He also served as a researcher and core member for RISD’s Strategic Plan, charting a new course for RISD’s academic programs and student life initiatives focused on how students of different disciplines can innovate through collaboration.

When he is not working on new innovations for Google, Willem can be found writing, sailing, playing squash (both the sport and the gourd), following English (and American) football, and occasionally regretting the decision to eat that bacon-wrapped hotdog from a food-cart in the Mission District.

Willem Van Lancker's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
ANDREA MANGINI
author photo
Columnist
SAM DUNNE

Kara works as a Senior Design Researcher at frog in Munich, Germany. Prior to this, she pursued her Master's degree in Design at Emily Carr University, where she focused her research on cross-cultural design process. Her graduate work in Rwanda has been included as a case study in IDEO's Human-Centered Design Toolkit.

She remains passionate about exploring design with rural communities and emerging markets.


Kara Pecknold's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
JESSE ASHLOCK

Matt Brown is a designer from the Chemical City (Midland, MI) and works at IDEO in Boston. He studied Industrial Design at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, MI and got his Masters in Interaction Design from the Umeå Institute of Design in Umeå, Sweden. He likes railroad tracks, talking about new ideas, and funny/awkward moments. He can't play the piano but collects synths anyway and has released a couple of records with his band Fracula.

His work deals a lot with fiction, humor, and people. A good example of this would be his piece on Dogpiling and Candles. You can see Matt's work on his website, and read more on his blog.

Matt Brown's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
ELYSA SOFFER
no photo
Columnist
JOCELYN BAILEY
author photo
Columnist
DON NORMAN

Don Norman claims his goals in life are to make a significant difference, but to have fun while doing so. He is both a businessperson (VP at Apple, Executive at HP and a startup) and an academic (Harvard, UC San Diego, Northwestern, KAIST). As co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group he serves on company boards and helps companies make products more enjoyable, understandable, and profitable. He is an IDEO Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He gives frequent keynotes and is known for his many books including "The Design of Everyday Things," "Emotional Design," and "Living with Complexity" (which argues against simplicity). A completely revised, updated edition of "Design of Everyday Things" will be published in October 2013.

Don Norman's Recent Posts

Venessa Miemis is a futurist, digital ethnographer, and modern day philosopher. Her superpowers include: pattern recognition, intuition, and the ability to distill complexity. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Media Studies at the New School in NYC. The focus of her graduate work is on facilitating trust-building, generative dialogue, and open collaboration in networked environments. Her blog, Emergent by Design, probes the potential impacts of social technologies on human behavior, thought processes, and the evolution of consciousness.

Venessa Miemis's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
MERITXELL MIR
no photo
Columnist
KIRAN SETHI

Ingrid Fetell is a designer, researcher, and writer whose work explores the emotional relationships between people and things. She writes the blog Aesthetics of Joy, and is working on a book of the same name, which draws on insights from neuroscience and psychology to suggest ways that design can lead the way to happier, healthier, and more sustainable lives. This allows her indulge her twin passions for delightfully designed objects and jargon-filled scientific studies. She also writes the Design and the Mind blog on the Psychology Today website.

Ingrid Fetell's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
DAVID KIM
author photo
Columnist
FRANK BONOMO
author photo
Columnist
BILL MOGGRIDGE

Bill Moggridge is the director of the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the only museum in the United States devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. Bill designed the first laptop computer, the Grid Compass, launched in 1982. He describes his career as having three phases, first as a designer with projects for clients in ten countries, second as a co-founder of IDEO where he developed design methods for interdisciplinary design teams, and third as a spokesperson for the value of design in everyday life, writing, presenting and teaching, supported by the historical depth and contemporary reach of the museum.

Bill Moggridge's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
BEN FULLERTON

Ben helps to lead Method’s interaction design team in San Francisco. His twelve years of experience span working within teams large and small, both in-house and consultancy, and from startups to corporate behemoths. Ben has worked on projects with many different areas of focus, beginning on the web but expanding to include mobile, brand, application, strategy, product and service. Prior to joining Method, Ben has spent time at Adaptive Path, IDEO, Twitter, Samsung, UK-based service design pioneers live|work, and Oyster Partners, a big British web agency you'd probably only remember if you still have the scars from the first dot bomb.

He teaches, currently at the California College of Arts, has written for Interactions magazine, Core 77 and FastCompany among others, and has spoken at a few different places like South By Southwest, Design Engaged, Webvisions and UX Week. He is also involved as a mentor with the Designer Fund, and has served as technical director on the committee of the last few Interaction conferences ('10, '11, '12 and '13) for the Interaction Design Association. Ben's work has been recognized by the IxDA's Interaction Awards, the BAFTAs, the Spark and the Pixel awards.

Ben Fullerton's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
JESSICA CHARLESWORTH

Shai Akram met Andrew Haythornthwaite while studying at the Royal College of Art, the two now run their own design practice and are also members of the Okay Studio collective. Her projects cover creative direction and design for interiors, events, and furniture/product ranges. Shai’s work is a combination of practice and theory, translating research and ideology into objects and visual language. Her work has been exhibited internationally and projects have taken her to China, New Zealand and Italy- although Shai loves to travel, she secretly wishes she would stay in one place long enough to have a cat.

Shai Akram's Recent Posts

Tiffany Chu is a designer and blogger based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. With a background in architecture and comparative media studies from MIT, Tiffany has a broad span of design experience including work for Pixar Animation Studios, h2o architectes in Paris, The New Orleans Office of Recovery, design/build in Cambodia, and field research on street vendors in Vietnam. By day, she currently works as an associate at the design and innovation consultancy, Continuum. By night, she dilly-dallies in internet culture, cartography, hot yoga, and dreams up design-entrepreneurial schemes.

Tiffany Chu's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
JESSICA WATSON

Marina Garcia-Vasquez is New York-based writer and editor of lifestyle and culture content. Her current focus is on art, architecture, and design. She obsesses over typography, McCobb chairs, Italo Calvino, urban landscape, and poetry. She is the NY correspondent for the Australian Inside Magazine. Here for Core77, she will devote herself to emerging Mexican and Latin American designers. Aside from this reportage, she is fully vested in promoting Mexican culture in New York City through Mexnthecity.com. Follow her @MarinaGarciaVas and @Mexnthecity. Her blogs and website: www.mg-v.com, pairsofchairs.wordpress, mexnthecity.com

Marina Garcia-Vasquez's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
ZARANI RISJAD
author photo
Columnist
KENZAN

Kenzan is the product of sculptors and bookkeepers. An upbringing telling of his approach to design: the hands-on formation of good ideas into solutions through considered assessment and judgement. Kenzan's experience as a lighting designer, small business owner, and good neighbor has provided him a means to explore and understand the multi-faceted world of design. Both a thinker and a do'er, Kenzan finds opportunity at every step of the process to create beautiful and effective design solutions, no matter the challenge.

Kenzan's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
GLORIA SUZIE KIM

Joann Plockova writes about design, ideas, solutions and various other topics of interest from her base in Prague. Her work has been featured in newspapers, magazines and online publications both in the Czech Republic and abroad. She is from the U.S. and previously worked as a copywriter.

Joann Plockova's Recent Posts

Ilyssa Kyu is a designer residing in South Philadelphia. She currently works as an experience designer & strategist at P'unk Avenue and regularly does graphic design & consulting freelance work with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, CultureWorks, GreenLimbs, and South Philly Green Drinks.

Her personal work explores how design can intervene in our complex relationship with nature through engineering empathy into objects and experiences.

Ilyssa Kyu's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
VICTORIA KIRK

Victoria Kirk is a senior digital strategist at Ogilvy, helping businesses create experiences that delight consumers. She has a Bachelor's (with honors) from New York University and holds a Masters of Industrial Design from the Pratt Institute. As a researcher, ethnographer, strategist and a designer, she has worked with organisations large and small to convert digital and cultural insights into tangible action. Her clients include large multi-nationals (Unilever, British Gas, Nestle) as well as educational and social enterprises (the Museum of Arts and Design, the Pratt Institute, Tilonia.com, the Barefoot College). A native New Yorker, she has lived and worked in India and is now based in London, where she is an active member of the sustainable design community, serves as board member and advisor to several social enterprises, produces documentary film and photography projects, and waits with cautious curiosity for the coming of the 2012 Olympics.

Victoria Kirk's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
JAMIE HALL

While leading RKS as CEO, Ravi Sawhney has helped generate more than 150 patents and over 95 design awards on behalf of his diverse list of international clients. Sawhney invented the reliable Psycho-Aesthetics design methodology, co-authored the 2010 release of Predictable Magic (Wharton School Publishing), is a Fellow in the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA), holds a Ph.D (Hon.) from the Academy of Art University San Francisco, and is the innovator and former jury Chair for IDSA’s Catalyst Case Study program. He is also a popular speaker and editorial contributor on the topics of design, innovation and management.

Ravi Sawhney's Recent Posts

Cindy Gilbert directs MCAD’s Sustainable Design Online Program. In this role, Cindy fosters a culture of awareness and creativity through sustainable, innovative, and collaborative design. She has extensive research experience in the fields of climate change and polar ecology, and has taught several courses and workshops in the fields of biology, sustainability, and biomimicry. Most recently she served 3.5 years as the founding Director of University Education at The Biomimicry Institute where she developed and managed all higher education programs including the Biomimicry Professional Certification Program, the annual Biomimicry Education Summits, the Biomimicry Affiliate and Fellows Programs, and the Biomimicry Student Design Challenges.

Cindy Gilbert's Recent Posts

Daniel is a User Experience Design Consultant. He has had the pleasure of working on service design, mobile, web and embedded interfaces for clients from Abbot to Volvo. He bikes a lot, and has taught a shocking variety of Design, Science and Food classes at the Brooklyn Brainery. He is 1/5 of The Design Gym, where he teaches design thinking to the masses. He is also 1/4 of GothamSmith, a line of 3D printed products.

Daniel Stillman's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
RAYMOND JEPSON

Raymond Jepson is a Montréal based product designer, active in IDSA. He is currently working for Stelpro Design, a growing heating and ventilation manufacturer. He has freelanced designing products from many categories, including ice skates for CCM, lighting and car audio equipment. He graduated from Arizona State University. When he doesn't have a pen in hand, he can be found underneath the hood of cars, or amateur racing them.

Raymond Jepson's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
MICHAEL CONNOLLY

Panthea Lee is co-founder and principal of Reboot, a service design firm working in the fields of governance and international development. At Reboot, she leads a multidisciplinary team of designers, researchers, development experts, and policy strategists to improve social outcomes globally, working for organizations such as the World Bank and the American Civil Liberties Union. Panthea has led projects in over 20 countries including Afghanistan, China, Sudan, and Tunisia. Before founding Reboot, she was with UNICEF Innovation.

Panthea speaks frequently on new approaches in international development, and has lectured at Columbia University, McGill University, NYU, the School of Visual Arts, and Pop!Tech’s social innovation program.

Panthea Lee's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
ARTHUR YOUNG-SPIVEY
author photo
Columnist
JAN CHIPCHASE

Jan Chipchase is Executive Creative Director of Global Insights at frog, as well as an advisory board member for Makeshift Magazine. You can subscribe to his Facebook feed, follow him on @janchip.

Jan Chipchase's Recent Posts

Roland Boal is Head of PGD, the China branch of Priestmangoode - a leading multidisciplinary design consultancy specialising in transport, aviation, environment and product design for a roster of significant brands across the globe.

Roland Boal is an experienced design-led strategist and designer with extensive experience in the consumer electronics and aviation sectors, running projects ranging from mobile phones and vacuum cleaners to aircraft cabin interiors. He has worked for a number of large industrial design companies and recently joined Priestmangoode to head its first overseas office, Priestmangoode Design, in Qingdao, China.

Roland Boal's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
KAI PEREZ
no photo
Columnist
GEARHUNGRY
no photo
Columnist
JON KOLKO
author photo
Columnist
CIARA TAYLOR

Ciara studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received a BFA with an emphasis in Designed Objects. She is a conceptual designer whose interests include user interaction and social behavior in online gaming, and how they can inform the physical world and the design of tangible objects. Her work focuses on identity, human interaction, and virtual environments, exploring the relationship that people develop with the real world and the virtual.

Ciara Taylor's Recent Posts

James Self is an Assistant Professor in the School of Design & Human Engineering at Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology, South Korea.

James Self's Recent Posts
author photo
Columnist
JEROEN VAN GEEL

Jeroen van Geel is interaction director at Fabrique [brands, design & interaction]. He is an international speaker and a writer on the field of interaction design and has a great interest in the world of product personality. Jeroen has pushed forward many design projects, ranging from the next generation mobile apps for Dutch public transport to interactive projects for Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and the new automated border control systems at Schiphol. He was the founder of Johnny Holland. His goal is to return a bit of wonder into the world, even if it is just for himself.

Jeroen van Geel's Recent Posts

Teshia Treuhaft is currently a graduate student studying furniture design at the Rhode Island School of Design. Previously a TEDx organizer, she now splits time between school, doing Public Relations for the Better World by Design conference and writing for Core77.

She is a Michigan-born, obsessive coffee drinker and lover of travel. Teshia hates glass tabletops and loves projection mapping. She hopes to become fluent in German and build at least one really good chair in her lifetime.

Teshia Treuhaft's Recent Posts

frog works with the world's leading companies, helping them to design, engineer, and bring to market meaningful products and services. With an interdisciplinary team of more than 1,100 designers, strategists, and technologists, frog delivers connected experiences that span multiple technologies, platforms, and media. frog works across a broad spectrum of industries, including consumer electronics, telecommunications, healthcare, energy, automotive, media, entertainment, education, finance, retail, and fashion. Clients include Disney, GE, HP, Microsoft, MTV, Qualcomm, and many other Fortune 500 brands. Founded in 1969, frog is headquartered in San Francisco, with locations in Amsterdam, Austin, Boston, Bangalore, Johannesburg, Kiev, Milan, Munich, New York, Seattle, Shanghai and Vinnitsya.

frog's Recent Posts

IDEO has roots dating back to 1978. Today, IDEO is an award winning global design and innovation consultancy. We create positive impact through design by taking a human-centered approach to helping organizations in the public and private sectors innovate, grow, and bring to market new ideas. We partner with leaders and change agents to identify new market opportunities, add value, and solve meaningful problems. We design and launch innovative products, services, ventures, and brands by combining business acumen with human-centered market insights. We help organizations to build the capabilities required to sustain innovation.

IDEO's Recent Posts

Tenny Pinheiro is the founder and Ceo of Livework in Brazil, the pioneer global Service Design agency and founder of EISE , The School for Service Innovation. An unprecedented entrepreneurship acceleration program through Service Design. He is also the author of two books, the latest The Service Startup :: Design gets Lean . Livework is the pioneer global Service Design firm located in London, São Paulo, Oslo and Rotterdam running service innovation projects around the globe for Fortune 500 companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Emirates, Virgin, Orange, Itaú Bank, VW and many others.

Tenny has always been an entrepreneur and started his first business when he was 13 years old. Since then, has bootstrapped several business initiatives and served as a mentor to dozen others.
As a designer, he has been working for over a decade on service innovation projects for fortune 500 companies, NGOs and governmental agencies in every sector of the economy, across the world.

Tennyson Pinheiro's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
CHRISTIE NICHOLSON
author photo
Columnist
ELIZABETH EVITTS DICKINSON

Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson is a journalist, author, and editor whose articles, essays, and fiction have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Slate, The Baltimore Sun, The Atlantic Cities, Johns Hopkins Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler and Metropolis, among others.

Dickinson is a contributing editor at Architect and Architectural Lighting magazines and has served as guest editor for publications like Johns Hopkins Magazine and Next American City. She was also the editor-in-chief of Urbanite magazine in Baltimore for three years. She is an adjunct faculty member at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) where she teaches graduate level writing.

Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson's Recent Posts

Fosta is Nick Foster, a post-discipline designer with specialisms. He has over fifteen years experience in the design industry as an engineer, industrial designer and futurist for companies such as Dyson, Seymourpowell and Sony. He received his MA from the Royal College of Art in London and currently lives in San Francisco, where he is Creative Lead for Nokia's Advanced Design team. He is also a partner at the Near Future Laboratory, pioneering work in the field of Design Fiction

Fosta's Recent Posts

Kai Mitsushio is a Co-Founder of wakumi. wakumi is a business-to-business marketplace that brings together the companies behind the finest products and services from Japan with businesses from around the world.

Kai Mitsushio's Recent Posts

Shaun Fynn is an acclaimed designer and photographer with a long history of advising and creating for Fortune 500 companies. Since founding FYNN in 1997 he has lived and practiced globally including the UK, Italy the US and India working in the areas of design, design research, design education and photo documentary.

Shaun Fynn's Recent Posts

Bryn Smith is a freelance graphic designer, writer, and critic. She studied Journalism and New Media at the University of Colorado, and received her MFA in Design Criticism from the School of Visual Arts. A guest contributor for Designers & Books, her writing and design work have also appeared in Print, Communication Arts, HOW, and a forthcoming e-book from the Cooper-Hewitt's DesignFile.

Bryn Smith's Recent Posts

Anki Delfmann is an independent design consultant working in product innovation, design strategy and user experience. Her life is a fine balancing act managing her own design projects and consulting for small and international companies including Vodafone Group, openXO and Goldstück. Her work has varied from designing a FAD award winning baby chair to digital strategy consulting for startups and designing 3D interfaces for social network applications.

Having earned her Diplom and Masters in Cologne, Sydney and Barcelona, she now splits her time between London and Cologne, and has made her suitcase an integral part of her life.

On the hunt for inspiration, she writes about design and travel, and is currently investigating designs for small spaces while renovating her tiny flat in West London.

Anki Delfmann's Recent Posts
no photo
Columnist
MATTHEW SULLIVAN
author photo
Columnist
KAT BAUMAN

Jeri Dansky has been a professional organizer since November 2004, helping people whose clutter is driving them crazy—and helping the mostly organized do even better. She works with her clients to de-clutter and organize their offices, closets, garages, entryways, kitchens and more. Jeri has been blogging since 2006, often focusing on interesting products that address various organizing challenges.

Jeri Dansky's Recent Posts

I've been asked to write a bit about myself, so now I'm in the middle of deciding if i should go for the serious version telling you all about my passion for architecture, education and co-creative processes, or the other side of me, the one you can't see on my website and here on the blog. Believe I just decided on the latter one.

First of all I'm as curious as can be. I love getting lost, whether it is in my own city or a place that i'm just visiting for a few days, I just enjoy turning a corner not knowing where I am or what to expect. Right, left, i let my gut decide. That's the only way to find the quirky cafe's and magical bookstores and hidden corners of a city, and it gives you a reason to stop people who's mere presence I find interesting as to ask them where they suggest me to go. Even better if they give you some of their time to have a coffee together, that way it gives me a chance to hear their story, and ask them what they truly burn for in life. Other then that I'm a big kid who loves a good playground at the same time as I'm the grandmother who loves to bake and sew and have lace under my begonia potts. I also like biking in the rain with my constantly smiling lips painted red. I know for a fact that smiles spread like a wildfire this way. ;) What can I say, it's all me, and I'm happy I manage to fit them all in.

Now, on you go, read a few post and let me know what you think!

Moa Dickmark's Recent Posts
 

FEATURED EVENTSSee All Events

Get Our Newsletter
Submit

Sign-up for your monthly fix of design news, reviews and stuff to make you smarter.

Follow Core77
Twitter Facebook RSS
Posted by Don Norman  |  25 Aug 2011  |  Comments (8)

At the start of almost every technology transition, chaos rules. Competitors create confusion, often quite deliberate, as they develop their own unique way of doing things incompatible with all others.

A challenge is arising as gesture-based control takes over on cellphones, tablets, touchpads and computers. Change invariably creates confusion and this situation is exacerbated by the different design philosophies of competing companies coupled with the lack of standardization. This problem is compounded because the new modes of interaction ignore the many important lessons of proper interface design, including discoverability, feedback and the power of "undo."

Today, the long-established, well-learned model of scrolling is being changed by one vendor, but not by others. Gestures proliferate, with no standards, no easy way of being reminded of them, no easy way to learn. Change is important, for it is how we make progress. Some confusion is to be expected. But many of these changes and the resulting confusions of today seem arbitrary and capricious.

The Great Debate Over the User's Model of Scrolling

Back in the early days of computer displays, a great fight ensued over the correct user model for scrolling. Consider the simple paradigmatic case of material on a screen where not all can fit within the available space. The bottom of the visible window is not the end of the material. Imagine that the material is actually located on a long vertical roll with the only part visible being that which is visible through the window. To see material not visible, there are two choices: move the material or move the window. If the material is being moved, then scrolling up moves the material up. But if it is the window that is moved, then scrolling down makes the text appear to move up.

Both models are correct in the sense that both make logical sense. The "correct" answer is that the method of scrolling should match the user's conceptual model of the activity (usually called the user's mental model). Whichever method is adopted then requires that all people learn to see the world through that particular conceptual model.

A very similar debate took place in the aviation community about the proper way to display an airplane's attitude on the graphical display in the cockpit. This debate is highly relevant here, because when a new technology emerged, it changed the nature of the debate. The display showed the silhouette (seen from directly behind the airplane) superimposed over a horizontal line that represented the horizon. The question being debated was an exact analog of the question in the computer world.

If the airplane was banking left, what should the display look like: outward-in or inward-out? The outward-in user model shows what an observer placed directly behind the airplane would see. In this case, the display would show the horizon remaining stable (horizontal) and the airplane tilting to the left. The inward-out user model shows the view seen by the pilot looking out the window of the airplane. In this case, the display would show the airplane remaining stable (upright) and the horizon tilting to the right. Which is correct? Both are. Which was adopted? Both. That is, the fight was unresolvable, both in the academic journals and in the real world of pilots and airplanes. The result was what you might expect: an acceptable amount of confusion. Pilots who were certified to fly a particular airplane (for example, a Boeing 737 that used the outside-in displays) had to be retrained when switching to a 737 that used the inside-out displays. But, overall, allowing each airline to select the preferred choice of instrumentation worked well.

When the heads-up display (HUD) entered the world of commercial aviation, the nature of the debate changed. A HUD is a simplified set of critical displays projected in space out the windshield, so the pilot views it while looking out the windshield. When a pilot flies by looking out of the window (at the real earth as well as at the HUD), the HUD has no choice but to use the inside-out format. (The debate about the attitude display is actually rather lengthy and technical, and because this column is about a different topic, I'll stop here.)

With window displays in computer operating systems and applications, the world converged on scrollbars as the control mechanism—the "move the window" paradigm for control. This means that all of us, no matter what operating system we use—for example, Windows, Macintosh or Unix/Linux—move the scrollbar down in order to move the material up.

There was always one interesting exception. Many graphics programs allowed the mouse to "grab" the material displayed and move it directly. This mode was usually indicated by two factors: the mouse cursor was placed on the item to be moved rather than on a scroll bar and the cursor changed into a hand, sometimes shown clenched so as to indicate "grabbing" the material to be moved. In this case, one moved the mouse up in order to move the material being displayed up.

The Scrolling Model Changes

The emergence of multi-touch screens on phones, tablets and computer screens change the interaction model—with a touch screen, one directly manipulates the material, not the scrollbar. Now it makes sense to use the "hand" model, where touching the image of the items on the screen and dragging or flicking it upwards moves the material upward, no scrollbar being required.

OK, that is sensible. When touching the screen image, whether metaphorically (as in the case of drawing programs and the image of a hand) or literally, as in gestural control of touch-sensitive screens, move in the direction one wants the image to move. When using a scroll bar, move the bar down to move the window up, and the display down. So what is the problem?

The problem occurs when the neat logical distinction between moving a scrollbar versus moving the displayed material confuses the average user. Moreover, small displays such as those found on cellphones and tablets tend not to use windows. When a single application occupies the entire display, the scrollbar is unnecessary.

When Apple first introduced the trackpad on its portable computers and later, on its touch-sensitive mouse and separate trackpad, it followed the standard computer model: dragging two fingers down the touch surface moved the window down and the displayed material up.

Apple has now decided that the discrepancy between the scrolling model for scrollbars and gestures should be eliminated. Computers mostly still lack touchscreen interfaces, especially multi-touch, and they still use windows and scrollbars. Nonetheless, in Apple's latest version of its operating system (OS 10.7, otherwise known as Lion), the default model has been changed: one moves the material up, not the window down. Apple wants everyone to move the material with a two-finder gesture, moving the two-fingers down the screen (on a touch screen) or on a trackpad. Yes, there still is a scrollbar that still seems to use the old mode, but I predict that scrollbars will disappear as control devices. Indeed, in new applications the scroll bar is hidden, only becoming visible when the two-finger scroll is initiated. Although it can be grabbed and moved, the scrollbar's main function now is to indicate what part of the material is visible through the window.

The result has been great confusion among customers. Suddenly, the well-ingrained habit has been reversed. Apple has long had a touchpad on its portable machines as well as being sold as an external control device. But the two-fingered drag downward used to move the material upward—that is, it controlled the scrollbar. Now the same movement controls the material displayed, so moving downward moves the material displayed downward.

The change extends to the way that the center control wheel on the mouse moves the material on the screen, but not to cursor arrows or the "page up" and "Page down" keys on the keyboard. "Page down" moves the text up, as does depressing the down arrow key once the cursor has reached the bottom of the screen.

The reason for the change is, presumably, consistency. Gestures are becoming the standard way of moving material around on multi-touch screens and multi-touch will become standard on all systems in the next few years—either through touch screens or touchpads (or more likely, both).

Do we need consistency? And what do we mean by consistency, anyway? In Apple's case, I can only assume that they thought consistency is measured at the level of the hand: move hand up, material moves up. But as long ago as 1995, researchers showed that in certain situations people preferred a mixed model, where in some cases the hand moved with the document, in others against it. Consistency should be measured at the level of the mental operation. If it seems natural to move the material being viewed, then hand motion should be in accordance with document motion, but if it seems more natural to move the window, then hand motion should move in accord with the window movement. In other words, although the hand movement might seem inconsistent at the physical level of the hands and document, it can be completely consistent with the person's mental model because to the person, different items—document or window—are being moved in the two cases, and the object being moved does follow the hand motion. Consistency, therefore, has to be measured in the mind, not the world. (See Frederiksen. et al.)

But scientific, academic arguments aside, what does it mean for Apple to have changed the rules of the game? My prediction is that although it will cause great confusion and uproar among Apple's customers because their long-tuned habits have been violated, in fact, it is not that difficult to change the mental model from moving the window to that of moving the material. People will find that in a few hours, perhaps a few days, it all will seem natural again.

Has confusion occurred? Yes, see David Pogue's article in his New York Times blog.

The Confusion has Just Begun

But actually, the confusion has just begun. Microsoft faces the same issue about the scrolling model as it deploys gesture systems on everything from its "surface" product, to smart phones, tablet computers, regular computers and its touch mouse. Which model will they adopt? So far, Microsoft is sticking with the current model of moving the window: move the finger up to scroll the material down.

Both Microsoft and Apple can make good arguments for selecting either decision. The problem is that if the two dominant companies make different decisions, chaos and confusion will result. Anyone who is monolingual and only uses a Mac or a Windows machine will be OK: Those of us who are bilingual will have problems. When I use a mouse on my Apple Macintosh, scrolling the center wheel upward moves the text upward. When I use a very similar mouse on my Microsoft Windows computer, scrolling the center wheel upward moves the text downward. And because Apple computers can run both Macintosh and Windows operating systems simultaneously, this discrepancy can happen with the identical physical equipment. Of course it will be confusing.

The story gets even worse. First, many other companies are deploying gesture based display devices: which model will they follow? Second, the problem is not restricted to scrolling. Each company allows a wide range of gestures, so the number of gestures that one has to remember is already in the double digits and ever increasing and, of course, the two major platforms are quite incompatible.

Each new vendor will have its own design philosophy, further compounding the problem. For example, Google supports gestures with its Android platform and Chrome web computer, but differently than either Microsoft or Apple, following their own design guidelines. Not only does the screen material move in different directions, but for Microsoft, scrolling only requires one finger on the mouse, while for Apple, it takes two fingers. The differences do not stop there. The platforms allow a wide variety of gestures:

  • One finger can be used to touch, tap, or double tap. One can tap and hold or rotate clockwise or counterclockwise. It can also swipe up, down, left or right. Microsoft allows the thumb to have a special meaning, something that Apple has not yet done. Google uses a long press to call up a menu, although this is seldom actually used by their developers or not even by Google itself.
  • Two fingers can be used to in the same ways as one, as well as to pinch or spread. With Microsoft's mouse, the location of the tap matters. I suppose you could have a two-finger long press, although to my knowledge nobody yet uses this.
  • Three and four fingers can be used in a variety of ways, some involving the thumb.
  • Some gestures involve movement of the device, using the location orientation, and acceleration sensors present in portable devices. Some gestures involve tapping the case or blowing across the microphone. Some involve tilting, tapping, or rapid shaking of the entire device.
  • With video cameras watching the user, such as with Microsoft's Kinect, the gestures can be made in three dimensions without contacting anything using fingers, hands, feet, the whole body, or just the head.

Not only is there incompatibility among the vendors, but given the lack of any cues on the devices, it is very difficult to remember the gestures. We are back to the days of command-line interfaces where everything had to be memorized, or looked up in a manual. I can only remember the gestures on my Macintosh by launching the "Settings" application, finding the trackpad control panel, and reviewing the four gestures under the tab "Point & Click," the four gestures under "Scroll & Zoom," and the six gestures listed under "More Gestures." What ever happened to Apple's image of "ease of use?" In the early days, one didn't even have to read the manual to use a Macintosh. Now I am forced to read the same section of the manual on a regular basis.

Just today I read in The New York Times that some actions in some applications on the Apple iPhone or iPad can be undone by shaking the device: "hold the iPad firmly with both hands (please)" warns The New York Times. Who would ever have discovered this without the newspaper?

Where will it all lead? Incredible excitement coupled with incredible confusion. In the end, we are going to need standard sets of gestures. Will this happen? Oh yes, but the question is when. Today, everyone is patent happy and every small little action is patented, so Microsoft will have its proprietary set, Apple and Google will have theirs, all the other vendors will have theirs. Each vendor has a different philosophy of interaction. Thus, Google's Android encourages the use of menus and the "back" key, even providing permanent buttons on the device for these purposes. Apple dislikes menus (although they helped pioneer their use on computers). But without menus, the set of actions one can take are invisible and as a result, almost undiscoverable. Couple this to the lack of consistency, the lack of visible design cues as to the possible actions, and the power and excitement of gesture-based systems will be replaced by chaos and confusion.

Jakob Nielsen and I have explored some of these issues in separate articles and one joint article (see the list in the notes at the end of this column). Readers somehow seem to think that we are enemies of gesture-based systems, but these readers have either misread us or, more likely, criticized without reading. We are fans of progress, but enemies of confusion. As this article points out, some confusion is to be expected when old habits must be retrained, but much of the confusion today represents inappropriate business and marketing decisions rather than design decisions. The customer is ill served.

We are in a period of exciting changes. The confusions that result will eventually dissipate, but in the meantime, nobody is well served.

Aside on the History of Gestures and Scrolling Models.

Originally, I intended to include a brief history of the development of the scrolling model. I tried to trace the history of the debate about text movement by emailing my friends who were directly involved in making these decisions. Each of them thought one of the others had made the decision.

I was able to trace the debate back to the early 1970s and even to the cursor keys on the old text-based video display terminals (VDTs) of the 1960's. Many people claim the convention started at Xerox PARC, but my contacts who were there during the development of the first graphical user interfaces (Alto and Star) say the standard probably developed earlier and they followed it. There were many debates about the arrows on scroll bars: where should they be placed; in which direction should they point?

The debate continued in the academic journals for a long time: the last paper I encountered was in 1995, but there are probably later ones. One paper pointed out that both schemes could be found in the Visual Display Terminals being used in 1982, and that the two different schemes could be found "even within the product line of one manufacturer" (Bury, et al.).

In the end, the history was both fascinating, rich with stories and details, but far longer than was reasonable for this column. So it is now in my "to be written" list.

Thanks

Special thanks to the many people who responded to my request for assistance in tracing the history of scrolling models, too numerous to list here, but it includes some of the great names in the early history of personal computing.

References

Bury, K. F., Boyle, J. M., Evey, R. J., & Neal, A. S. (1982). Windowing vs. scrolling on a visual display terminal. Proceedings of the 1982 conference on Human factors in computing systems.

Frederiksen, N., Grudin, J., and Laursen, B., 1995. Inseparability of design and use: An experimental study of design consistency. Proc. Computers in Context' 95, 83-89.

Norman, D. A. (2010). Natural User Interfaces Are Not Natural. Interactions, 17, No. 3 (May - June). http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/natural_user_interfaces_are_not_natural.html

Norman, D. A. & Nielsen, J/ (2010). Gestural interfaces: a step backward in usability. Interactions 17, No. 5 (September - October), 46-49.
http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/gestural_interfaces_a_step_backwards_in_usability_6.html

Comments



Vilson Martins FilhoAugust 25, 2011 7:02 PM

Awesome article!

I totally agree when you say : "We are fans of progress, but enemies of confusion." but, the way I see, we can't have progress without some confusion first.

So, in the and of the day, gesture interfaces will take simmillar way as the pointer/cursor history. A lot of confusion, and some standardization based on market share.


Leonard LeeAugust 27, 2011 12:39 AM

In my opinion, different Vendor with different Gestures Interfaces hard to help us to choose the one which is the most comfortable with. I fell that we are forced to accepted this Gestures rather choosing the one right for us, especially when the one become dominate in the market. Confusion for choosing which one the right one for us always creating war between the vendors to introduce different Gestures and its application.

Alexander GoeddeAugust 27, 2011 1:22 PM

Both models, moving the content and moving the window, make equal sense in principle. Since downward scrolling is the more common action, this should preferentially be the one that is easier to execute. Curling your fingers on a touchpad is easier than extending them, and the difference is even more pronounced when using a mouse scroll wheel. I think the current model on the desktop is preferrable for this reason.

SBMobileAugust 28, 2011 2:23 PM

This article was big waste of time to read. The author had NO real point here. Most of the OS's for mobile (WP7 & Android), will not be around in tablet form, in the near future. NO one will buy them, NO one will care when they're gone either. The amount of iPad/iPad2's sold, means gestures will be adapted. It's funny how you're the only one I've heard complaining about this! Everyone else using the iPad or Lion seem to be satisfied with their purchases. It's a good thing news publications are moving completely over to the web. You would've just wasted a lot of their ink!

KAH KHIONGAugust 29, 2011 4:20 AM

What SBMobile said is debatable. History is repeating again in the Tablet and Smart Phone market, just like Microsoft Windows did in the computer market. Windows dominated the computer market, the standard of the computer adapted the Windows platform: more Software for windows, most of the hardware was built for Windows, .... But, there are not guaranteed that EVERYONE is satisfied with the Windows. And so why they are other vendor s try to challenges its market by offering their Operating System. Now the competition is so much dramatic, especially with Chrome OS and Mac OS is reducing the gap of the selling. No One will Buy, Use or Care Those OS? i don't think so. That's also going to happened in the Tablet and Smart Phone market. There are people also care and use other OS in their Tablet and Smart Phone. That's why other try to challenge Apple's Market and it's getting more dramatic when Google bought MOTOROLA. There were surely more product challenge Apple's iPhone and iPad in near future. The best part is Apple will also show who are the boss in Tablet and Smart Phone market with new product, new application, new gestures, and most important new service (iCloud). The wars just continue with more unexpected and expected excitement.

Barbara BallardSeptember 5, 2011 12:44 PM

A computer user with over 20 years experience and a mobile user (designer) with over 10 years experience, I happily lived in a world in which the scroll directions were reversed. Both made sense within their context. I even happily lived with 3 years of iOS and Android devices co-existing with my computer.

Things changed when I started using touch tablet devices, in my case the iPad. I was frequently looking at the same web site, with the same design, on both the computer and the tablet. I started having problems with scroll direction, and would make errors regularly. The visual cues in the browser chrome were similar to my Mac.

When I switched to Lion, I experimentally switched scroll directions. After two hours, 80% of my scroll errors were gone. About a week later I made nearly no errors in scrolling.

DanSeptember 15, 2011 4:30 PM

My current frustration or "confusion" lies with tabbed email within a tabbed browser. The "back" button on my mouse is now rendered useless as it takes me out of email back to the homepage or previously viewed page (probably mcmaster), ruining the current search since individual emails are no longer view on unique pages but rather multiple tabs within the same page. Please go back! Browser with tabs = good. Email with tabs = bad.

c3September 27, 2011 3:16 AM

this is about "creative destruction" and the way technology works as a "profit center" planned obsolesence used to be in the plastics tensile strength.. today its in user interference design..

the ipad is the mac of 1992. it has been used by apple to make applications "sellable" again, although at only a buck..lets see how that works over a decade,, cdroms /and flash entertainment now must be "reinvested" -relearned- rebought- even though the "products" are the same in basic "use"...

anyhow.. more of machine scale marketing... human scale left the building with the virtuality of the corporation and the dollar.;)

user interference-- its almost laughable that this is the love of the process patent and that's its sold as a better tool.

Name:
Email:
URL:
Comment: