The Umbrella and respect

26 Apr 2004 - 2:27am
10 years ago
4 replies
527 reads
pabini
2004

Hi Ben

Thanks for sharing the link to Tog's article. I hadn't read it before.

Ben Hunt wrote:
> I'm personally warming to Tog's preference of replacing design with
'architect(ure)'
> (http://www.asktog.com/columns/057ItsTimeWeGotRespect.html).

I recently came to the same conclusion and decided to dub myself a User
Experience Architect. When reading Tog's article, though he referred to
"user experience" as a "soft" term, I noted that he used the term several
times when attempting to describe what an interaction architect is and does.
While I consider interaction design to be my primary focus, I typically do
information architecture and visual design as well. I really prefer doing
everything. These three aspects of user interface design are very closely
coupled in my mind and highly interdependent. For me, a title that
encompasses just one of these aspects doesn't cut it. (This is the same
problem that usability professionals encountered, because of the diversity
of their work, as Tog described in his article.)

The design of software has often been compared to the architecture of
buildings. Typically, architects design functional spaces and their
aesthetics, while structural engineers do the heavy technical aspects of
building design to ensure that skyscrapers don't fall down, for example.
This closely parallels the division of labor for software design. System
architects design the technical aspects and people like me, whatever we want
to call ourselves, design the functionality with which users interact, as
well as the software's visual interface design.

> Architects design spaces in which, and through which, different types of
> goals can be realised, and different types of experiences had.

Right on, Ben. We're back to "experiences" again. :-)

Another thing Tog said in his article was rather disturbing to me:
"We've been complaining bitterly, these last 25 years, that we get no
respect, that we are thought of as nothing more than decorators, if we are
thought of at all. Guess what? We have no one to blame but ourselves. We
have sat on the sidelines, perpetually powerless, whining, instead of
changing up the game so we can win."

I hope this isn't true for most of us any more. I suspect that, to the
degree this is true, its greatest effect might be that this perception
limits our job opportunities.

On software projects, I work closely with system architects and developers
throughout the development cycle, but I write the specifications up front,
then the developers implement them.

I'd like to know about the reality most of us are now experiencing, working
on software projects. To what degree do you feel empowered? How does your
work fit into the software development process?

Pabini
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com

Comments

26 Apr 2004 - 2:33am
Olly Wright
2007

i realize that some of you might be newcomers to this list ... but it
seems like this conversation is cyclical. we had it eight months ago,
and we are having it again. (that gets interrupted with "let's define
our practice" every four months or so).

i don't mean to be cynical, but maybe i am. i just wish we didn't have
to keep having the same discussion about it.

when this strain of conversation flared up in august, i wrote this:
http://www.girlwonder.com/archives/000776.html

but when the whole conversation about what we call ourselves repeated
altogether too much, mike kuniavsky and i created the interaction
architect job title generator. that's here:

http://www.girlwonder.com/jobs.html

anyway, good morning, good evening, and hi.

cheers,
molly

On Apr 26, 2004, at 9:27 AM, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:

> Hi Ben
>
> Thanks for sharing the link to Tog's article. I hadn't read it before.
>
> Ben Hunt wrote:
>> I'm personally warming to Tog's preference of replacing design with
> 'architect(ure)'
>> (http://www.asktog.com/columns/057ItsTimeWeGotRespect.html).
>
> I recently came to the same conclusion and decided to dub myself a User
> Experience Architect. When reading Tog's article, though he referred to
> "user experience" as a "soft" term, I noted that he used the term
> several
> times when attempting to describe what an interaction architect is and
> does.
> While I consider interaction design to be my primary focus, I
> typically do
> information architecture and visual design as well. I really prefer
> doing
> everything. These three aspects of user interface design are very
> closely
> coupled in my mind and highly interdependent. For me, a title that
> encompasses just one of these aspects doesn't cut it. (This is the same
> problem that usability professionals encountered, because of the
> diversity
> of their work, as Tog described in his article.)
>
> The design of software has often been compared to the architecture of
> buildings. Typically, architects design functional spaces and their
> aesthetics, while structural engineers do the heavy technical aspects
> of
> building design to ensure that skyscrapers don't fall down, for
> example.
> This closely parallels the division of labor for software design.
> System
> architects design the technical aspects and people like me, whatever
> we want
> to call ourselves, design the functionality with which users interact,
> as
> well as the software's visual interface design.
>
>> Architects design spaces in which, and through which, different types
>> of
>> goals can be realised, and different types of experiences had.
>
> Right on, Ben. We're back to "experiences" again. :-)
>
> Another thing Tog said in his article was rather disturbing to me:
> "We've been complaining bitterly, these last 25 years, that we get no
> respect, that we are thought of as nothing more than decorators, if we
> are
> thought of at all. Guess what? We have no one to blame but ourselves.
> We
> have sat on the sidelines, perpetually powerless, whining, instead of
> changing up the game so we can win."
>
> I hope this isn't true for most of us any more. I suspect that, to the
> degree this is true, its greatest effect might be that this perception
> limits our job opportunities.
>
> On software projects, I work closely with system architects and
> developers
> throughout the development cycle, but I write the specifications up
> front,
> then the developers implement them.
>
> I'd like to know about the reality most of us are now experiencing,
> working
> on software projects. To what degree do you feel empowered? How does
> your
> work fit into the software development process?
>
> Pabini
> ________________________________________
>
> Pabini Gabriel-Petit
> Principal & User Experience Architect
> Spirit Softworks
> www.spiritsoftworks.com
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

26 Apr 2004 - 7:05am
whitneyq
2010

At 09:33 AM 4/26/2004 +0200, molly wright steenson wrote:
>i realize that some of you might be newcomers to this list ... but it
>seems like this conversation is cyclical. we had it eight months ago, and
>we are having it again. (that gets interrupted with "let's define our
>practice" every four months or so).
>
>i don't mean to be cynical, but maybe i am. i just wish we didn't have to
>keep having the same discussion about it.

One of the reasons (IMHO) that these discussions seems so endless and
cyclical is that they keep happening within a single list. It is not
possible to define the umbrella for an inherently multi-disciplinary field
from within a single discipline. That only leads to an exercise in the
"church of St. Venn" (whose motto is "I want to be in the middle")

Only in a forum where all of the disciplines can contribute --- and where
there is clear, mutual respect -- will we be able to find the common ground
(and common language).

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

27 Apr 2004 - 5:22pm
Challis Hodge
2003

Whitney Quesenbery wrote:
One of the reasons (IMHO) that these discussions seems so endless and
cyclical is that they keep happening within a single list. It is not
possible to define the umbrella for an inherently multi-disciplinary field
from within a single discipline. That only leads to an exercise in the
"church of St. Venn" (whose motto is "I want to be in the middle")

Only in a forum where all of the disciplines can contribute --- and where
there is clear, mutual respect -- will we be able to find the common ground
(and common language).

I think you are on to something here. I would however suggest that the
problem is not that the Umbrella issue can't be discussed within a
particular list or group. In fact, any group that suffers from the absence
of this umbrella is obligated to discuss it. It should be discussed with an
understanding that they are just one facet of a bigger community and that
they shouldn't try to solve the problems themselves but rather collaborate
with many other groups to work toward solutions. Things go wrong when
individual groups put themselves at the center of the problem (read
universe).

The IXD list is about discussing the real world day-to-day challenges faced
by practicing interaction designers. This umbrella issue is certainly one of
the challenges we each face in our day-to-day careers and we need to discuss
it as such.

However, the challenge of solving the umbrella issue is bigger than our
mission here and discussing its solution can only detract from our focus on
ground-level interaction design. What we should be discussing is what forum
or meta group we want to support or participate in to collectively tackle
the umbrella issue. Moving the discussion to another list is certainly
reasonable.

-challis

.

<http://www.challishodge.com/> www.challishodge.com [personal]

847.381.4611 [office]

847.381.4631 [fax]

847.977.9913 [mobile]

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27 Apr 2004 - 6:25pm
Nick Ragouzis
2004

Challis,

I've snagged just two pieces of your comment. I hope
I've kept your intended sense.

First:

> In fact, any group that suffers from the absence
> of this umbrella is obligated to discuss it.

So what would be the characteristics of such a discussion?
How would it be directed? How would progress be marked and
recorded? How would backsliding or digression be suggested
and so ruled?

And finally:

> What we should be discussing is what forum or meta group
> we want to support or participate in to collectively
> tackle the umbrella issue. Moving the discussion to another
> list is certainly reasonable.

Am I right in assuming you mean that moving the so-called
umbrella issue discussion to that (chosen/decided) list would
then be reasonable? So, fine. How would *this* be chosen/
decided?

Further, how would our cozy little group here be represented
there? En masse? Or would only a few of us have the time to
add another forum to our lives ... and if so how would we,
here, shape the portfolio for such representation?

Best,
--Nick

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