recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : interfaces   7

New American Outline 1
"These days, the mirrors we most often use to check our makeup or see if there’s gunk in our teeth are found on our phones — “smart” devices that coordinate an array of sensors and cutting-edge “image display” and “image capture” technologies to render reality within the boundaries of a powered physical display.

What’s interesting about smart-devices-as-mirrors is that the eventual representation of the “image of the world” is explicitly and wholly a “model” of the world — a “model” meaning a “ human-constructed representation (abstraction) of something that exists in reality”. Physical mirrors are interesting because they have the ability to render reality and even warp it, but what they depict is “a physical reality” in the truest sense; The physical qualities of a mirror can be seen as akin to seeing the world through air, or seeing the world through water. While a human being can physically manipulate a physical mirror to alter the final reflection, the reflection in and of itself is a product of the physical world and unalterable in totality.

To a degree, film photography was an extension of this physical realization (rendering) of reality. At a certain point, what else is the capture of light on paper but a wholly physical process? While people intervened in the path of light’s travel with lenses and apertures and specifically-designed crystal-studded paper, what emerges as a process is less a constructed model of reality and more a continually warped representation of what actually exists in the world. Film and paper photography was a deeply labor-intensive art, full of cutting and cropping and poisoning and brushwork, all serving the act of rendering what was once a beam of light into an image-rendering of a particular summer day. Impressionism lives on in this sense.

It wasn’t until recently that most photographs became literal abstractions or literal models of thought with the advent of digital photographic capture. While the earliest digital photographs presented terrible image quality/resolution, they were possibly the most honest representations of what they actually were: a product of humans manipulating bits through clever mathematic compression to render blocks of color accordingly.

“How can mirrors be real if our eyes aren’t real?”

What we “see” in our screens is wholly a model of reality, wholly an abstraction of the natural world, wholly determined and manufactured by people sitting in an office in California somewhere, typing away at an IDE. When we strip away the image rendered on a screen, when we deconstruct an algorithm, what’s left?

What does it mean when most models (abstractions) of our digital representations are constructed in California, or completely in America for that matter?

When I look at myself on my phone camera, why do I get the haunting feeling I’m not situated in New York anymore? When I scroll through all the photos of friends and strangers on Facebook or Twitter, why does it all feel so flat? When I tap through my friend’s stories on Instagram and get interrupted by an ad for shoes, why does the shoe ad feel more real than the stories it’s sandwiched between?"

"New American Interfaces

When we talk about “New American Interfaces”, it’s important to expand upon the meaning of each word for a complete sense of the conceptual picture we’re trying to paint.

We should imagine “New American Interfaces” to be less a definition, more an expansion. Less an encircling and more an arrangement collage [ ] of existing realities.

“New”ness is a direct reference to developments in human technology that span the last 10 years or so. “New” American technology does not refer to technology that was developed in the 1970s. “New” American Technology is not a reference to networking protocols or personal computers proliferating in the 90s. “Newness” refers to mobile phones finding themselves in billions of people’s hands and pockets. “Newness” refers to the viability of video streaming over wireless networks. “New” implies cameras directly imbued with the capability to re-model reality and assign social value through “the arrangement of certain interfaces” only found in the most cutting-edge devices. “New”ness implies the forgetting of the massive stacks of technology that exist to show us images of our friends and their lives in chronological order.

“America” speaks to the “Americanness” of the current world. Totalizing global governance, military might, far-reaching memetic saturation the rest of the world cannot escape from. “America” means pop culture, “America” means world police. “America” retains the ability to wobble the economy of the world when executives shitpost on Twitter. When we talk about “America”, we mean the hegemonic cultural-economic infrastructure the rest of the world rests upon whether they like it or not.

“Interfaces” speak to not any button, slider, or like button physical or digital or otherwise. “Interfaces” in the sense of “New American” interfaces refer to what Kevin Systrom meant when he called Snapchat a “format”. A replicable stack(s) of technology is an “interface”. An “interface” under this definition means every chat application is fundamentally the same and completely interchangeable. Linear conversation will always be linear conversation, and the pattern of linear conversation is what we call a messaging app, and we call this an “interface”. Every search interface is the same, every index is the same, every captive portal is the same. To take our example to the physical world, imagine this scene:

You see two chairs side by side with one another. From afar, they are completely the same. You inspect them close and they are the same, you notice they both are built from the same beautiful ash wood, every single detail is perfectly mirrored in both chairs.

One of these chairs was wholly made by human hands and the other was cut to shape by a machine, assembled by people on a factory line, and produced in the millions.

One of these chairs is an interface —"

[See also: ]
édouardurcades  mirrors  interfaces  ui  ux  cameras  stories  instagram  storytelling  reality  2019  snapchat  multimedia  media  kevinsystrom  format  form  newness  technology  smartphones  mobile  phones  images  imagery  buttons  jadensmith  lukaswinklerprins 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Power and Responsibility | Nicole Fenton
"When I think about the responsibility we have to each other, this is where I start:

Every kind of user information relates to privacy.

You never know where a trail leads. We are connected in unbelievable ways.

People have the right to know how information is used.

If you ask someone to share information about themselves, help them understand where it’s going and how it benefits other people.

Pain is hard to express.

Abusive situations and topics are extremely difficult to talk about, especially when they’re still happening. Simple words like “no” and “stop” aren’t always enough.

Because my mom supported me with love and asked me open-ended questions, I eventually found a way to express myself and stop the abuse. When we talk about boundaries in our own lives, we help others find the courage and the words to do the same.

We have laws for a reason, but this stuff is complicated.

We build systems that talk to each other. We have to think about good and bad behaviors. We have to use our brains and our hearts. We should be sensitive to difficult situations in everything we make."
abuse  data  databases  privacy  writing  nicolefenton  2013  systems  power  responsibility  metadata  interfaces  search  ethics  history 
december 2013 by robertogreco
What Screens Want by Frank Chimero
"We need to work as a community to develop a language of transformation so we can talk to one another. And we probably need to steal these words from places like animation, theater, puppetry, dance, and choreography.

Words matter. They are abstractions, too—an interface to thought and understanding by communication. The words we use mold our perception of our work and the world around us. They become a frame, just like the interfaces we design."

"When I realized that, a little light went off in my head: a map’s biases do service to one need, but distort everything else. Meaning, they misinform and confuse those with different needs.

That’s how I feel about the web these days. We have a map, but it’s not for me. So I am distanced. It feels like things are distorted. I am consistently confused.

See, we have our own abstractions on the web, and they are bigger than the user interfaces of the websites and apps we build. They are the abstractions we use to define the web. The commercial web. The things that have sprung up in the last decade, but gained considerable speed in the past five years.

It’s the business structures and funding models we use to create digital businesses. It’s the pressure to scale, simply because it’s easy to copy bits. It’s the relationships between the people who make the stuff, and the people who use that stuff, and the consistent abandonment of users by entrepreneurs.

It’s the churning and the burning, flipping companies, nickel and diming users with in-app purchases, data lock-in, and designing with dark patterns so that users accidentally do actions against their own self-interest.

Listen: I’m at the end of a 4-month sabbatical, and I worry about this stuff, because the further I get from everything, the more it begins to look toxic. These pernicious elements are the primary map we have of the web right now.

We used to have a map of a frontier that could be anything. The web isn’t young anymore, though. It’s settled. It’s been prospected and picked through. Increasingly, it feels like we decided to pave the wilderness, turn it into a suburb, and build a mall. And I hate this map of the web, because it only describes a fraction of what it is and what’s possible. We’ve taken an opportunity for connection and distorted it to commodify attention. That’s one of the sleaziest things you can do.

So what is the answer? I found this quote by Ted Nelson, the man who invented hypertext. He’s one of the original rebel technologists, so he has a lot of things to say about our current situation. Nelson:
The world is not yet finished, but everyone is behaving as if everything was known. This is not true. In fact, the computer world as we know it is based upon one tradition that has been waddling along for the last fifty years, growing in size and ungainliness, and is essentially defining the way we do everything. My view is that today’s computer world is based on techie misunderstandings of human thought and human life. And the imposition of inappropriate structures throughout the computer is the imposition of inappropriate structures on the things we want to do in the human world.

We can produce a vision of the web that isn’t based on:


We can make a new map. Or maybe reclaim a map we misplaced a long time ago. One built on:


We can use the efficiency and power of interfaces to help people do what they already wish more quickly or enjoyably, and we can build up business structures so that it’s okay for people to put down technology and get on with their life once their job is done. We can rearrange how we think about the tools we build, so that someone putting down your tool doesn’t disprove its utility, but validates its usefulness.

Let me leave you with this: the point of my writing was to ask what screens want. I think that’s a great question, but it is a secondary concern. What screens want needs to match up with what we want.

People believe there’s an essence to the computer, that there’s something true and real and a correct way to do things. But—there is no right way. We get to choose how to aim the technology we build. At least for now, because increasingly, technology feels like something that happens to you instead of something you use. We need to figure out how to stop that, for all of our sakes, before we’re locked in, on rails, and headed toward who knows what.

One of the reasons that I’m so fascinated by screens is because their story is our story. First there was darkness, and then there was light. And then we figured out how to make that light dance. Both stories are about transformations, about change. Screens have flux, and so do we."
frankchimero  2013  screens  flux  build2013  plasticity  jamesburke  plastic  skeoumorphs  containers  materials  change  transitions  perception  flatdesign  windowsphonemetro  ios7  software  replacement  shape  affordances  grain  design  paper  print  eadwardmuybridge  movement  motion  animation  customization  responsivewebdesign  responsiveness  variability  mutability  mutations  ux  interactiondesign  interfaces  language  ethanmarcotte  maps  mapping  representation  cartography  embodiedmeaning  respresentation  tednelson  computersareforpeople  softwareisforpeople  unfinished  responsivedesign 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Mass + Text
Text from the about page: ]

"Mass + Text wants to understand the relationship between language (analogue and digital signals), physical objects, and the communities they anchor. I’m curious about how we translate thought into form, and back again.

Mass + Text happened because I like words, and I like the idea that objects are a byproduct of their cultural context. I think there’s an interesting back and forth between said things and made things, and this is an attempt to think-through-writing till I make some sense of it.

I’m not quite sure what I’m doing, but I’m going to scratch this itch anyway. What I do know is that the emergence of ubiquitous computing is going to bring together language and objects in weird and interesting ways, with implications for architecture, media, journalism, consumer technology, and fashion. This is my attempt to begin to make some sense of it.


The ease with which we’re able to summon and dismiss texts on glowing rectangles makes us forget that language isn’t weightless. The ways in which we call out and respond to each other are deeply anchored within physical things. Heavy things. We make meaning by spilling oceans of ink, crushing mountains of herbs and minerals into pigments, and by sliding slabs of quivering muscle against each other.

And even when we summon an idea from the depths of cyberspace,and it leaps onto our screens, that idea is bound to this plane by physical objects. Language exists within at least three dimensions.

So if language can shape mass (indeed, if language is mass), what will new forms of communication mean for the things we build, and the way we build? Can we incorporate content into spaces and objects in ways that go beyond merely turning them into display screens? How does this communication influence our relationships with our tools?

With ourselves?


Areas of interest:

• the evolution of media and journalism: what does it mean that ESPN is interested in the data being harvested from wearable tech such as the Jawbone UP? If the medium is the message, how will media companies design for wearable computing devices that have very little room for display screens?

• internet-connected devices: the coming wave of “smart" devices offers an opportunity to rethink everything from how these objects look to what they do. How do you design analog/digital interfaces that take into account qualities of mass such as weight, texture and temperature?

• architecture: we can speak to our spaces, and our spaces can speak back (through location-based Foursquare tips, geo-triggered alerts, changing room temperature to suit our personal profile, etc.). The built form is how we interface with the city, and changes to that form have implications for everything from our ideas about privacy, community, and to discussions about who has the right to the city.

• fashion: we know clothing can be language, but the use cases of clothing-as-tool have been surprisingly few, i.e. clothing can keep us warm, and they offer some measure of protection from weapons, but that’s about it. How can we make clothing even more useful? And how will those utilitarian scripts be reflected in aesthetics?

• histories of communication: everywhere mass intersects with text, an idea finds its way into our world, be it when a finger strikes against a keyboard, or when someone’s vocal chords rub together. I want to understand that threshold, liminal space where a concept is impregnated within an object, and given form."
text  communication  objects  emmanuelquartey  language  digital  communities  community  blogs  ubicomp  internetofthings  networkedobjects  senses  media  journalism  wearable  technology  jawbone  architecture  design  fashion  history  interfaces  ux  mobile  smartdevices  analog  wearables  iot 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The Cooper Journal: The best interface is no interface
"Creative minds in technology should focus on solving problems. Not just make interfaces.

As Donald Norman said in 1990, “The real problem with the interface is that it is an interface. Interfaces get in the way. I don’t want to focus my energies on an interface. I want to focus on the job…I don’t want to think of myself as using a computer, I want to think of myself as doing my job.”

It’s time for us to move beyond screen-based thinking. Because when we think in screens, we design based upon a model that is inherently unnatural, inhumane, & has diminishing returns. It requires a great deal of talent, money & time to make these systems somewhat usable, & after all that effort, the software can sadly, only truly improve w/ a major overhaul.

There is a better path: No UI. A design methodology that aims to produce a radically simple technological future without digital interfaces. Following three simple principles, we can design smarter, more useful systems that make our lives better."
glowingrectangles  via:maxfenton  screens  square  paymentsystems  nfc  everyware  ubicomp  calmtechnology  markweiser  ambercase  kevinashton  adamgreenfield  donaldnorman  goldenkrishna  computing  nest  ui  cars  interfaces  interactiondesign 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Why Microsoft's Vision Of The Future Is Dead On Arrival | Co. Design
"Futuristic interfaces are supposed to solve problems and make life easier. What good are they--besides being eye candy--if the future around them is picture-perfect already? The Microsoft video takes that conceit of perfection and carries it so far that the concepts begin to look ridiculous: You can pick out all kinds of clever touches, such as the way the images on a computer screen can be dragged off screen to become holograms--and then can be controlled with gestures. But by that point, we're way off in future land, where none of these clever touches feel rooted in life. They don't address problems we understand."
berg  berglondon  microsoft  future  problemsolving  realism  johnpavlus  johngruber  interfaces  minorityreport  conceptvideos  2011  interactiondesign 
october 2011 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:

to read