emergent design(RE: Re: OSD

12 Mar 2004 - 1:41pm
10 years ago
14 replies
443 reads
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Mar 12, 2004, at 11:27 AM, Whitney Quesenbery wrote:

> I once worked with someone who translated poetry and fiction. He saw
> his work less as a mechanical transformation from one language to
> another but as a conduit between two means of expression. And he saw
> it as a very "active" activity.
>
> In fact, I might suggest that the most serious craftspeople in any
> medium have a holistic view of their work that goes well beyond the
> basic techniques or skills. Even in things we might think of as "pure
> craft" there is always a level where the work becomes transcendent.
> Think of the sea grass baskets you can find in the South Carolina
> coastal region, or masks in many cultures. They all range from those
> that barely qualify for the genre to those that seem to be perfect
> expressions of it - and beyond.

It's passive in the sense that one is taking an already existent
creation and converting it. But the translator doesn't make the
original creation. That's passive to me. Sure, they may have a lot of
craft, need to be experts in understanding the best way to be that
conduit, but they are taking pre-existing work and simply converting
it. That is not what designers do.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

Comments

12 Mar 2004 - 1:48pm
Jenifer Tidwell
2003

On Fri, 12 Mar 2004, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> > (Not to overemphasize patterns, but I've tried to use examples
> > from many years' worth of software. I think I still have a
> > Photoshop 5 example in there, along with Pine and Emacs. FWIW.
> > Look out, or I'll go back to X10 or the old Lisp machines...)
>
> Please do! We need to get all the classic examples in there.

Yeah.

Ummm. Anyone got any working Lisp machines sitting around?

Seriously, I'd love to gather more old-style UI examples. Which
"classics" of good design are worthy? The original MacOS? Macdraw?
Hypercard? NeXTstep? Some old UNIX command-line tools? Video
games? Of course, the real trick will be finding working examples...

> There you go... use an example of bland design practice to build the
> case for "emergence"... now I'm definitely sold on the term. 8^)

Hey, I never said "emergent design == good design." :-)

- Jenifer

--------------------------------------------
Jenifer Tidwell
w: jtidwell at mathworks.com
h: jtidwell at alum.mit.edu
http://jtidwell.net/

12 Mar 2004 - 1:56pm
Cwodtke
2004

> > It's "emergent" in the sense that no one entity designed it. These
> > design languages come about by designers reusing elements from
> > previous, similar designs -- if it works, use it! -- and by other
> > factors.
>
> That's fine... But I still think "emergent" is a poor way to think
> about it. It doesn't strike the right connotations for me. That's my
> opinion, and I'm sticking to it! 8^)

This is why I thought the word was particularly appropriate
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0684868768/
I love the idea of design wihtout a single designer... very exciting
concept.

Tab have their root back in teh physical work, were modified for software,
modified for the web and are settling into a stable usage, not because one
person said it would be so, but because it came out of a group perception.
facinating....

12 Mar 2004 - 3:29pm
Beth Berrean
2004

> Fri, 12 Mar 2004 11:41:08 -0800
> Andrei Herasimchuk <andrei at adobe.com>
>
> "one is taking an already existent creation and
> converting it. But the translator doesn't make the
> original creation. That's passive to me. Sure, they
> may have a lot of craft, need to be experts in
> understanding the best way to be that conduit, but
> they are taking pre-existing work and simply
> converting it. That is not what designers do."
>
> Really? Your description of translation sounds
> exactly
> like what I do when I have my ID hat on?
>
> I like patterns and don't mind the emergent but I'm
> having difficulty with is the "language" part.
>
> Could someone expand on the idea of "design
> language"?
> As much as I enjoy things like standardized signs on
> highways, what i notice is how incongruous most of
> the
> images are to the message they convey.
>
> I still remember thinking "What the hell is that
> animal?" in Australia (a sign for crossing wombats)
> or
> imagining all Polish children playing with balloons
> (the children at play sign is an image of a girl
> with
> her balloon & an adult taking a step).
>
> Do interaction widgets or modules really have a
> language's ability to denote, connote and
> encapsulate
> a cultural/philosophical world view? Would we really
> want that?
>
> b
>
> beth berrean
> IA/Project Coordinator
> Dean's Office School of Medicine, UCSF
>

12 Mar 2004 - 6:09pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Mar 12, 2004, at 4:29 PM, Beth Berrean wrote:

>> Do interaction widgets or modules really have a language's ability to
>> denote, connote and
>> encapsulate a cultural/philosophical world view? Would we really want
>> that?
>>
>>

They already do, whether we want them too or not. Products (and their
components) don't exist outside of culture. Designers bring their
cultural baggage with them; nor should they exclude it: it's useful
sometimes. Imagine having to explain how a button or a mouse works to
every new user all the time, as you would if you plopped a computer
down in front of a someone from a culture that has never seen one
before. Or try explaining a "desktop" to someone how has never seen a
desk, much less its top and its metaphoric counterpart!

Dan

Dan Saffer
M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
Carnegie Mellon University
http://www.odannyboy.com

12 Mar 2004 - 9:26pm
Gary Burke
2004

I've worked with a few marketing people who did want to explain the
mechanics of 'clicking' and filling in form fields. They said things
like "Not everyone is an expert web user". The VP of marketing was
afraid that our website might have been the first one the user was
visiting.

--G

On Mar 12, 2004, at 7:09 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:
> --- Imagine having to explain how a button or a mouse works to every
> new user all the time, as you would if you plopped a computer down in
> front of a someone from a culture that has never seen one before. Or
> try explaining a "desktop" to someone how has never seen a desk, much
> less its top and its metaphoric counterpart!
>
> Dan
>
>
>
> Dan Saffer
> M.Des. Candidate, Interaction Design
> Carnegie Mellon University
> http://www.odannyboy.com
>
> _______________________________________________
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15 Mar 2004 - 8:50am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

>I know HyperCard had some form of them...

I remember tabs in HyperCard that were like those in a library card
catalog. Each one appeared behind and to the right of the one "in front"
of it, and when clicked brought its "card" to the front. But it's been
years since I've used HyperCard, and my memory is imperfect. :-)

>I know the inspiration for Photoshop's tabs came from work done in
>other apps, but off the top of my head, I'm forgetting which apps.

The Photoshop toolboxes have always reminded me of the toolboxes that I
first saw in MacDraw. I can't remember if any of the MacDraw ones had
tabs or not, though.

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland
301.921.3326

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12 Mar 2004 - 12:30pm
Cwodtke
2004

>
> Can we call these "emergent design languages?"
>

I think this is right on-- because of the fierce copy-nature of our
industry, especially on the web, inventions by one successful company
propagates (even if the invention is not successful; if they company is
everything they do gets a halo of correctness, and propagates)

Amazon tabs, Google search results, Yahoo browse listing (a la the
directory), the list goes on and on.

Emergent design is a great term-- I'd say we will see a standard design
lanague on the web in about five years, and it will be pure emergent, helped
along by Heidi's work, Jennifers and perhaps even my own littel widgetopia.

http://www.webdesignpractices.com/
http://time-tripper.com/uipatterns/index.php
http://www.eleganthack.com/widgetopia/

12 Mar 2004 - 12:46pm
Dave Malouf
2005

One aspect of this discussion that hit me as interesting is the software
nature of the topic. We so far have really been limiting our sphere of
influence to screen based (keyboard/mouse/accessibility) interaction
mediums.

How does this translate to more tangible interaction design that includes
devices that use screens but are not limited to them.

I think the idea of "emergent design languages" will fit there as well, but
I guess I just wanted to make sure that our "taxonomy" (not sure if I'm
using the right word in a very educated crowd) acknowledges that "web" and
"software" are only two mediums in a much wider set.

I also like the use of the term languages as I have often thought that our
job as IxDers is one of translation, and just like in our spoken languages
we have powerful phrasiology that gets re-used often in idiomatic ways we
have our own phrases that we apply to the digital and physical products we
work on, some mentioned below, others might include: toggle switch, jog
dial, knob (w/ all its types), etc. etc. Some of these are used in sets that
create a phrase in a phrase as well.

-- dave

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Christina Wodtke
Sent: Friday, March 12, 2004 1:30 PM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: emergent design(RE: [ID Discuss] Re: OSD

>
> Can we call these "emergent design languages?"
>

I think this is right on-- because of the fierce copy-nature of our
industry, especially on the web, inventions by one successful company
propagates (even if the invention is not successful; if they company is
everything they do gets a halo of correctness, and propagates)

Amazon tabs, Google search results, Yahoo browse listing (a la the
directory), the list goes on and on.

Emergent design is a great term-- I'd say we will see a standard design
lanague on the web in about five years, and it will be pure emergent, helped
along by Heidi's work, Jennifers and perhaps even my own littel widgetopia.

http://www.webdesignpractices.com/
http://time-tripper.com/uipatterns/index.php
http://www.eleganthack.com/widgetopia/

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Interaction Design Discussion List
discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
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Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
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12 Mar 2004 - 1:09pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Mar 12, 2004, at 10:46 AM, David Heller wrote:

> How does this translate to more tangible interaction design that
> includes
> devices that use screens but are not limited to them.

It will come to include them.

> I think the idea of "emergent design languages" will fit there as
> well, but
> I guess I just wanted to make sure that our "taxonomy" (not sure if I'm
> using the right word in a very educated crowd) acknowledges that "web"
> and
> "software" are only two mediums in a much wider set.

The only problem with that term is that it makes it sound as if it's
just coming into play. Like it's new or something. This is not the
case. The examples Christina listed were web examples, which actually
had their roots in examples from software deign from the prior decade.
(Amazon's tabs? What about Windows 95 tabs and Photoshop's tabs? They
were the prior art here. Amazon didn't invent anything there.)

Much of the stuff that is "new" in the field, especially as it pertains
to web work and web application design, is actually variations on older
ideas. There's just this crop of people in the field who weren't around
designing applications back in the heyday of early app design, so
everything feels new again. (The late 80s and early 90s.) This is
obviously my own personal opinion, as I've been involved in designing
software since 1990.

So to call it "emergent" seems to me a bit of a misnomer to me.

> I also like the use of the term languages as I have often thought that
> our
> job as IxDers is one of translation, and just like in our spoken
> languages
> we have powerful phrasiology that gets re-used often in idiomatic ways
> we
> have our own phrases that we apply to the digital and physical
> products we
> work on, some mentioned below, others might include: toggle switch, jog
> dial, knob (w/ all its types), etc. etc. Some of these are used in
> sets that
> create a phrase in a phrase as well.

Are we designers or translators? I'm not a translator. That's a passive
activity. Design is active, not passive.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

12 Mar 2004 - 1:13pm
Chris Ryan
2004

On Mar 12, 2004, at 11:09 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> The only problem with that term is that it makes it sound as if it's
> just coming into play. Like it's new or something. This is not the
> case. The examples Christina listed were web examples, which actually
> had their roots in examples from software deign from the prior decade.
> (Amazon's tabs? What about Windows 95 tabs and Photoshop's tabs? They
> were the prior art here. Amazon didn't invent anything there.)

You can go further back, to HyperCard, and probably earlier than that.

> Much of the stuff that is "new" in the field, especially as it
> pertains to web work and web application design, is actually
> variations on older ideas. There's just this crop of people in the
> field who weren't around designing applications back in the heyday of
> early app design, so everything feels new again. (The late 80s and
> early 90s.) This is obviously my own personal opinion, as I've been
> involved in designing software since 1990.

I think this has become a real problem in some quarters. Lack of
awareness is one thing--but I've seen some working in the Web industry
who are not only unaware of prior work (e.g. those claiming "usability"
titles who have never heard about ACM/SIGCHI, for instance); but who
actually dismiss it as invalid (often those who use titles like "new
media").

Chris

12 Mar 2004 - 1:23pm
Jenifer Tidwell
2003

On Fri, 12 Mar 2004, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> > I think the idea of "emergent design languages" will fit there as
> > well...
>
> The only problem with that term is that it makes it sound as if it's
> just coming into play. Like it's new or something.

Really? Not at all -- the building-architecture examples cited
by Andrew and myself are not new by any means. The Web is, but
software design in the more general sense is not.

(Not to overemphasize patterns, but I've tried to use examples
from many years' worth of software. I think I still have a
Photoshop 5 example in there, along with Pine and Emacs. FWIW.
Look out, or I'll go back to X10 or the old Lisp machines...)

> Much of the stuff that is "new" in the field, especially as it pertains
> to web work and web application design, is actually variations on older
> ideas. There's just this crop of people in the field who weren't around
> designing applications back in the heyday of early app design, so
> everything feels new again. (The late 80s and early 90s.) This is
> obviously my own personal opinion, as I've been involved in designing
> software since 1990.

As have I. (1991, anyway.) Yes -- anything old is new again. :-)

> So to call it "emergent" seems to me a bit of a misnomer to me.

It's "emergent" in the sense that no one entity designed it. These
design languages come about by designers reusing elements from
previous, similar designs -- if it works, use it! -- and by other
factors. The design language used in modern American suburban
houses is probably the result of buyer-driven aesthetics, builder
economics, manufacturing capabilities at given price points,
common zoning issues (lot size and setbacks), etc. It's quite
consistent across suburbs all over America. But it wasn't the
product of one mind -- it emerged from many forces, and it now
has its own momentum. It's really hard to buy a new house that
doesn't use this design language... even if one doesn't like it!

- Jenifer

--------------------------------------------
Jenifer Tidwell
w: jtidwell at mathworks.com
h: jtidwell at alum.mit.edu
http://jtidwell.net/

12 Mar 2004 - 1:27pm
whitneyq
2010

At 11:09 AM 3/12/2004 -0800, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
>Are we designers or translators? I'm not a translator. That's a passive
>activity. Design is active, not passive.

Translators would beg to differ with you.

I once worked with someone who translated poetry and fiction. He saw his
work less as a mechanical transformation from one language to another but
as a conduit between two means of expression. And he saw it as a very
"active" activity.

In fact, I might suggest that the most serious craftspeople in any medium
have a holistic view of their work that goes well beyond the basic
techniques or skills. Even in things we might think of as "pure craft"
there is always a level where the work becomes transcendent. Think of the
sea grass baskets you can find in the South Carolina coastal region, or
masks in many cultures. They all range from those that barely qualify for
the genre to those that seem to be perfect expressions of it - and beyond.

Personally, I like the craft model, as it emphasizes that we create things
that have a utilitarian purpose; one that we can fill passably or
exquisitely. We may have our own craft-guild standards but the real test of
our work is in its use; and the judges, those who use it.

Whitney Quesenbery
Whitney Interactive Design, LLC
w. www.WQusability.com
e. whitneyq at wqusability.com
p. 908-638-5467

UPA - www.usabilityprofessionals.org
STC Usability SIG: www.stcsig.org/usability

12 Mar 2004 - 1:30pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Mar 12, 2004, at 11:13 AM, Chris Ryan wrote:

>> The only problem with that term is that it makes it sound as if it's
>> just coming into play. Like it's new or something. This is not the
>> case. The examples Christina listed were web examples, which actually
>> had their roots in examples from software design from the prior
>> decade. (Amazon's tabs? What about Windows 95 tabs and Photoshop's
>> tabs? They were the prior art here. Amazon didn't invent anything
>> there.)
>
> You can go further back, to HyperCard, and probably earlier than that.

This is true. Good point. I'd have to go back and find which app
started using tabs first. I know HyperCard had some form of them... and
I know the inspiration for Photoshop's tabs came from work done in
other apps, but off the top of my head, I'm forgetting which apps.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

12 Mar 2004 - 1:36pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Mar 12, 2004, at 11:23 AM, Jenifer Tidwell wrote:

> (Not to overemphasize patterns, but I've tried to use examples
> from many years' worth of software. I think I still have a
> Photoshop 5 example in there, along with Pine and Emacs. FWIW.
> Look out, or I'll go back to X10 or the old Lisp machines...)

Please do! We need to get all the classic examples in there.

>> So to call it "emergent" seems to me a bit of a misnomer to me.
>
> It's "emergent" in the sense that no one entity designed it. These
> design languages come about by designers reusing elements from
> previous, similar designs -- if it works, use it! -- and by other
> factors.

That's fine... But I still think "emergent" is a poor way to think
about it. It doesn't strike the right connotations for me. That's my
opinion, and I'm sticking to it! 8^)

(It's Friday after all... I might change my mind come Monday.)

> The design language used in modern American suburban
> houses is probably the result of buyer-driven aesthetics, builder
> economics, manufacturing capabilities at given price points,
> common zoning issues (lot size and setbacks), etc. It's quite
> consistent across suburbs all over America. But it wasn't the
> product of one mind -- it emerged from many forces, and it now
> has its own momentum. It's really hard to buy a new house that
> doesn't use this design language... even if one doesn't like it!

There you go... use an example of bland design practice to build the
case for "emergence"... now I'm definitely sold on the term. 8^)

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

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