17 July 2011

Talk to Me – or interaction design as script writing

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Talk to Me
In her New York Times review of Talk to Me (online journal), the latest exhibition by Paola Antonelli at the MoMA, Alice Rawsthorn describes what could be considered the essence of interaction design:

“Digital technology is enabling objects to become so complex and powerful that we now expect to interact with them. If you hand an unfamiliar object to a small child, he or she will instinctively search for buttons or sensors to operate it.

Though the same same microchips that enable things as small as smart phones to fulfill hundreds of different functions also make them more opaque. In the industrial era when form generally followed function, you could guess how to use an electronic product from its appearance. You can’t do that with a tiny digital device, which is why designers face the new challenge that Ms. Antonelli calls “script writing,” in other words, ensuring that the object can tell us how to use it.”

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