Beauty and Transparency

8 Dec 2003 - 11:21am
10 years ago
1 reply
673 reads
gleija at comca...
2003

I put together some bits and pieces related to our discussion of beauty and transparency.

Transparency
When we say transparent, do we mean invisible, as in Donald Norman's example
below?

"You use computers when you use many modern automobiles, microwave ovens, games, CD players and calculators. You don't notice the computer because you think of yourself as doing the task, not as using the computer." ["The Design of Everyday Things", New York, Doubleday, 1989, p. 185].

Beauty
Here are a few definitions of beauty I found:

1. The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with
such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry,
truthfulness, and originality. (to which I would add integrity)

2. A quality or feature that is most effective, gratifying, or telling: The
beauty of the venture is that we stand to lose nothing. (sounds like beauty = success)

3. An assemblage or graces or properties pleasing to the eye, the ear, the
intellect, the [ae]sthetic faculty, or the moral sense. (hmmm, how many senses do we really have?)

Here's a link to information about Aesthetics as a branch of Philosophy:
http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/phil/blphil_aes_index.htm

...and
I've attached 2 papers I like that discuss the relationship between beauty and
experience design. The author's reference to David Gelernter's “machine beauty,” which he describes as the union of power and simplicity in innovation, directly relates to our ongoing discussion.

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Comments

8 Dec 2003 - 12:11pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Gelernter's idea of machine beauty (power + simplicity) is
interesting, and echoes an old motto I remember from my
Cooper days: design for both power and pleasure.

One concept that seems to be missing from it as analyzed
in the referenced papers is the meeting of user expectations
and needs: focusing on human goals and mental models rather than
tasks and structures that reflect the logic of the machine
(implementation model). This is perhaps the most critical
determiner of the power and simplicity that Gelernter recognizes:
power, derived from truly meeting goals; and simplicity, derived
by matching user expectations. I would add to these the concept
of elegance: providing the simplest complete solution that meets
goals and expectations.

These definitions skirt the issue of aesthetics, but I think
this may also be understood as an *emotional* need of users.
People want to feel good about the things they own and use,
and sensual aspects address some of these needs (as does
behavior). Perhaps where beauty as more traditionally
understood comes in is the harmony of all these things--
power, simplicity, and elegance in form and behavior-- each
in proper balance to deliver the optimal experience for
the user.

Robert.

-----Original Message-----
From: gleija at comcast.net [mailto:gleija at comcast.net]
Sent: Monday, December 08, 2003 11:21 AM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Beauty and Transparency

I put together some bits and pieces related to our discussion of beauty and
transparency.

Transparency
When we say transparent, do we mean invisible, as in Donald Norman's example

below?

"You use computers when you use many modern automobiles, microwave ovens,
games, CD players and calculators. You don't notice the computer because you
think of yourself as doing the task, not as using the computer." ["The
Design of Everyday Things", New York, Doubleday, 1989, p. 185].

Beauty
Here are a few definitions of beauty I found:

1. The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated
with
such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry,
truthfulness, and originality. (to which I would add integrity)

2. A quality or feature that is most effective, gratifying, or telling: The
beauty of the venture is that we stand to lose nothing. (sounds like beauty
= success)

3. An assemblage or graces or properties pleasing to the eye, the ear, the
intellect, the [ae]sthetic faculty, or the moral sense. (hmmm, how many
senses do we really have?)

Here's a link to information about Aesthetics as a branch of Philosophy:
http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/phil/blphil_aes_index.htm

...and
I've attached 2 papers I like that discuss the relationship between beauty
and
experience design. The author's reference to David Gelernter's "machine
beauty," which he describes as the union of power and simplicity in
innovation, directly relates to our ongoing discussion.

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