Tog on Gestures will force the mouse intoretirement

31 Dec 2008 - 3:20pm
7 years ago
1 reply
734 reads
Scott Berkun

I agree Jakub - but this sort of thing is so much fun and gets people easy
kudos for being iconoclasts and revolutionaries its irresistible. Happens
all the time. I've probably done it myself as have half the people on this

We can find much in the world to make the same rallying cry about. "The
wheel should die! It's time for mag-lev cars!" or "Light switches should
die! Their binary tyranny must be crushed by the freedom of dimmer knobs!".
Every few years someone cries about how criminal it is software *still* is
only 2D. This stuff always goes on, and it's mostly silly. Not entirely,
but mostly. Most ideas in use in the world are old. That's because they were
good ideas, got super successful (in the lingo, became "dominant designs"),
and then through their extended success, we learned their flaws. The
gasoline engine seemed great until recently, didn't it?

The mice and the keyboard are dominant designs and dominant designs are hard
to change (e.g. gas engines). Even if they have clear problems. Even if
there is a design experts know is better. Look at the comedy of cramming
micro/fold-out/virtual keyboards into cell-phones. The thing that's caving
first is English, with text messaging creating its own dialect (cya, gtg,
rolf, etc.) - change at the content level, not the UI for putting it in.
Morse code is arguably easier to tap out on some cell phones than English,
and has a uber-simple UI (one button!) but it requires learning that most
people do not want to do.

One conflict between design & innovation is this: we simultaneously believe
design is about making things easier for people, but also want to see big
changes happen. But innovation, especially big UI changes like, say,
eliminating mice, or toolbars, or depending on gesture language, are major
inconveniences to people simply trying to live their lives (as opposed to
designers and early adopters who go out of their way to experience change).

I'm not saying "Status Quo Forever!" but I am saying you need a lot more
evidence of value than Tog or the guy from Gartner in the article offers
(evidence I found in article was near zero) to make sweeping claims like
they are. The Gartner guy says "revolution is three to five years off for
mainstream business". Uh, ok. Ask him what percentage of his salary he'd put
down as a bet for the coming of this revolution. I suspect zero. I'd be more
convinced by someone at a gesture UI start-up pitching his wares, for at
least he has some skin in the game - he has bet his company on the ideas
he's selling. Consultants and experts for all their charms rarely have as
much at stake in what they say (myself included).

People advocating VR, 3D and Minority Report-ish UI as the dominant way for
people to interact with machines typically fall into the same trap: lots of
faith and coolness, but little evidence for how what they're offering makes
anything important better, just different. Proof in the UX/design community
for value is not hard to find - we have all the methods in the world for
comparing two designs suited for the same task. But it's curious how little
these methods are used in conjunction with talk of revolutions, paradigm
shifts and other buzzwords.


Scott Berkun

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at
[mailto:discuss-bounces at] On Behalf Of Jakub
Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 5:17 AM
To: discuss at
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Tog on Gestures will force the mouse

Somehow every time someone says the mouse will go on retirement I am not
convinced. It's a seriously well designed product which has lasted for what,
over 40 years? The mouse provides quite a bit of precision. Yes, perhaps it
takes effort to learn, but with time people can move items around at pixel
level detail which I doubt will be possible to do with fingers. Furthermore,
when using the mouse the hand rests at a 90 degree angle and is supported by
a desk, which suits longer working hours. Will people be able to move their
fingers and wave their arms for 9 to 5, 5 days a week? Unlikely as it will
require more physical energy.


2 Jan 2009 - 10:13am
Alban Hermet

Well, I guess it depends on usages and context aimed by the

I do agree that people won't leave their mouses, keyboards etc. to
use gestures' based interfaces or interactive surfaces. I'll be
very unconfortable writing this post on a virtual keyboard on any
tactile interface even if it's multitouch.

But I think that technology has now reached a very promising point
and we, as designers, can now explore a wide range of possibilities
to provide to our users new ways to interact with interactive
systems. I'm thinking about collaborative usages ( like crisis
management, decision making...) where mouses and keyboards are
definitively not the best way for people to interact.

In this direction, design and innovation are not in conflict.
Designer's role is to provide the best interactive system (or
service) to users. When making design choices we have to consider
technics and technologies and choosing wich one will be the most
usable and sometimes try something new because users needs can not be
fullfilled with existing solutions (and yes innovate).

Of course we all see those cool & fancy demos with lot of animations
and blur effects... I think that those are due to the current
transition phase (and associated technical possibilities) and we have
to keep an eye opened on what's behind this 'wow' effect.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new

Syndicate content Get the feed