Five Lenses: Towards a Toolkit for Interaction Design

20 Mar 2005 - 7:21pm
9 years ago
19 replies
721 reads
Peter Merholz
2004

While you're all wasting your time discussing memetics and "selling" of
your methodology, Tom Erickson does it again with an insightful (and I
think, profoundly controversial) essay

Five Lenses: Towards a Toolkit for Interaction Design
http://www.visi.com/~snowfall/5Lenses.html

Why controversial:
-Vastness of scope
-Role of theory (not too big, not too little...)
-dissing of how IDers use "affordance"

Anyway, something worthwhile to think about...

--peter

Comments

20 Mar 2005 - 8:34pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Interesting article.

I don't see why you feel it is controversial. I see nothing of controversy
in it except that it claims to be just that.

Is IxD in its early stages? Yes.
Is affordance misplaced in the realm of IxD? Probably so, but the concept of
affordance and intuition are so closely tied together, that I'm not sure it
actually matters.

His statement about us being "roving tribes" is interesting and I wonder if
he knows about Us here. Not roving, but found. But again, we are so young
that saying that we are roving tribes is probably more accurate that not.

What I find most interesting in the article are the lenses themselves. It is
very similar to what I'm reading in "digital ground" by McCollough right
now. But the lenses themselves seem to be about deconstructing systems, and
not designing them. Since this is an article that is part of a larger book,
it is hard to place its total context, but it feels as though he is starting
something greater, by letting us look through these lenses. I am left with
anticipation to learn how these lenses actually become a toolkit towards,
well creating designs instead of deconstructing them. Of course many of the
great tools out there start with an understanding of deconstruction by which
to understand the patterns for latter use in a toolkit for construction.

I found it interesting that he placed the park as an ecological element
where for me it is squarely in the artifact realm. As designed and man-made
as the board, clock and pieces. All of which create a contextual construct.

-- dave

On 3/20/05 7:21 PM, "Peter Merholz" <peterme at peterme.com> wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> While you're all wasting your time discussing memetics and "selling" of
> your methodology, Tom Erickson does it again with an insightful (and I
> think, profoundly controversial) essay
>
> Five Lenses: Towards a Toolkit for Interaction Design
> http://www.visi.com/~snowfall/5Lenses.html
>
> Why controversial:
> -Vastness of scope
> -Role of theory (not too big, not too little...)
> -dissing of how IDers use "affordance"
>
> Anyway, something worthwhile to think about...
>
> --peter
>
> _______________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Group!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixdg.org
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixdg.org
> Home ....................... http://ixdg.org/

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org
dave at ixdg.org
dave at synapticburn.com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

21 Mar 2005 - 12:38am
Alain D. M. G. ...
2003

Hello!

I always find it interesting to see how the gifted and exceptional
live, but I wonder how such examples can be relevant to the mundane
tasks we are concerned with. Playing chess, playing musical
instruments. Even further, public places where these geniuses
congregate. You must mingle with some really overly talented people to
think that this is commonplace.

This reminds me of reading articles by Alan Kaye and others, 30 years
or so ago, planning for computers which would let these otherworldly
people and their children learn through creativity. I always got the
feeling from these readings that I was some kind of exceptionally crude
moron. As the years went by I realised that they were the exceptions.

Aren't there some less conceptual activities to illustrate the five
lenses?

Alain Vaillancourt

__________________________________________________________
Lèche-vitrine ou lèche-écran ?
magasinage.yahoo.ca

21 Mar 2005 - 6:55am
Lada Gorlenko
2004

Alain wrote:
ADMGV> I always find it interesting to see how the gifted and exceptional
ADMGV> live, but I wonder how such examples can be relevant to the mundane
ADMGV> tasks we are concerned with.

and Martijn wrote:
WMv> Well, I am not sure how valuable such very abstract essays are. It sure
WMv> doesn't help most practitioners in their daily work.

... and before many others will start wondering 'why on earth', here
are some thoughts on why this may be important and valuable.

Yes, most are concerned with mundane tasks and do a daily job of
interaction [...][design, carpentry, bricklaying -- pick any]. (A side
thought: who picks things we want to be concerned with, if not
ourselves?) Some (the gifted and exceptional?) have to do more than
that and define boundaries of the discipline, within which thousands
of practitioners do their designs and lay their bricks. Continuing
with the metaphor, there is a job of an architect and there is a job
of a city planner. An architect needs to know how to build a living
space for a family, a working space for a company, or a recreation
space for a neighbourhood. A city planner needs to know about the
population, economic trends, natural resources, infrastructure, and
many other things that are beyond individual living spaces to plan a
well-functioning city in which it is a fun and joy to live.

One of the main goals of IxDG defined on our website is to establish
and promote IxD as *a discipline*. This is more than just a summary of
needs of individual designers, in the same way as a city is more
than a summary of houses and spaces. Part of this goal is to suggest a
coherent structure for IxD education , and by 'education' I really mean
*upbringing* of interaction designers, rather than merely (re)training
of existing professionals in the secrets of IxD craftsmanship.

First of all, I belive that Tom's broad definition of IxD is the only
way to define a discipline that wants to be sustainable and claims the
place IxD it trying to claim. IxD must indeed be about constructing
interactions (behaviours) with *ANY ARTIFACT* or constructing
interactions (behaviours)*BETWEEN PEOPLE* mediated by the artifact.
Digital artifacts are a huge sub-group of this, but, conceptually, a
sub-group indeed, not the sole object of IxD.

Secondly, I see Tom's 5 Lenses as essentially the pillars of IxD
education and, if you want, the boundaries of IxD design as a
discipline. These are areas that should make up IxD education
programs (Tom's order preserved, but, really, in no particular
preference):

- MIND , e.g., Cognitive Science or Cognitive Psychology
- PROXEMICS , e.g., Ergonomics and, in general, subjects typically
attributed to 'Human Factors'
- ARTIFACTS, e.g., Product Design, Visual Design, Software Design
- The SOCIAL, e.g., Communication, Social Psychology, Media Studies
(personally, I would include 'The Works of William Gibson' as a
compulsory subject, too)
- The ECOLOGICAL (e.g., Architecture, Ecology (in its broad
definition), Information Sciences, Game Theory, and lots of others

Add the subjects you consider important for a degree program in IxD as
you see fit. Most will fall into one of the above categories, if not,
there may be one or two more, but these are the educational basics, as
I see them. Same about the importance of theory, of lingua franca of
design - it might be not important to those who lay bricks, but I
don't see how it can be *not* important to those who attempt to
design high-quality complex solutions.

There is a place for lots of useful things under the sun, and I guess,
Tom's essay falls under the 'Vision' category.

Lada

21 Mar 2005 - 6:59am
Dave Malouf
2005

I really liked your explanation Lada, thank you.
I was more responding to Peter's introduction than to the real value of
Tom's essay. Thanx for giving it important perspective.

-- dave

David Heller
http://synapticburn.com/
http://ixdg.org
dave at ixdg.org
dave at synapticburn.com
AIM: bolinhanyc || Y!: dave_ux || MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

21 Mar 2005 - 10:34am
Ted Booth
2004

On Mar 21, 2005, at 6:55 AM, Lada Gorlenko wrote:
> Secondly, I see Tom's 5 Lenses as essentially the pillars of IxD
> education and, if you want, the boundaries of IxD design as a
> discipline. These are areas that should make up IxD education programs
> (Tom's order preserved, but, really, in no particular preference):
>
> - MIND , e.g., Cognitive Science or Cognitive Psychology
> - PROXEMICS , e.g., Ergonomics and, in general, subjects typically
> attributed to 'Human Factors'
> - ARTIFACTS, e.g., Product Design, Visual Design, Software Design
> - The SOCIAL, e.g., Communication, Social Psychology, Media Studies
> (personally, I would include 'The Works of William Gibson' as a
> compulsory subject, too)
> - The ECOLOGICAL (e.g., Architecture, Ecology (in its broad
> definition), Information Sciences, Game Theory, and lots of others

Lada,

It's interesting to use the 5 lenses framework as a basis for thinking
about curriculum. As others have questioned its practicality, I started
to wonder how the 5 lenses could be applied to a design project. So, I
reread the essay and thought about what questions each of the lenses
would raise if a designer or design team were to 'put on' each one
during the course of a project. Below is a list of what I came up with
in about 15 minutes. Obviously it would take more time to refine and
make practical this particular framework.

BTW, I think you've misread 'Proxemics' by thinking of it as ergonomics
and human factors. 'Proxemics' literally means 'the study of the
nature, degree, and effect of the spatial separation individuals
naturally maintain and of how this separation relates to environmental
and cultural factors'. Ergonomics may be better included in the
'Artifacts' lens as it relates direct to the attributes of physical
objects.

For the purposes of this exercise, the term 'activity' would refer to
things like 'playing chess', or 'paying bills', 'teaching a 3rd grade
class', etc. The idea here is that asking these questions would ensure
good, well-rounded coverage of a design project. Thoughts?

Mind
• How does the user think about the activity they're engaged in?
• How do they learn to do this activity?
• Why do they like to/want to do it?

Proxemics
• What is the physical context in which this activity happens?
• Who are all the participants?
• What are each participants' unique physical behaviors?
• What are their different social roles?
• How do they interact with each other?

Artifacts
• What are all the objects involved in this activity and its immediate
context?
• How do they support or otherwise enhance/detract from the activity?
• Which participants use which objects?
• How are the objects manipulated by participants?

The Social
• What are the different social roles played by different participants?
• What is acceptable and unacceptable social behavior?
• How are the social rules enforced, both explicitly and implicitly?
• How do existing and/or new objects either support or undermine social
rules?

The Ecological
• How often does the activity take place?
• Where does the activity take place?
• What is the broader context in which the activity takes place?
• How does the activity contribute to or otherwise mesh with the
broader context?

21 Mar 2005 - 10:43am
Bill DeRouchey
2010

Martijn van Welie wrote,
>
> Well, I am not sure how valuable such very abstract essays
> are. It sure
> doesn't help most practitioners in their daily work. I'd even
> doubt that the
> 'theorists' have much to gain from this essay.

It does appear that this is a chapter in a forthcoming book, which may
provide more context than we can currently glean. Just to be fair to the
author...

Bill

21 Mar 2005 - 12:52pm
Peter Merholz
2004

In Martijn's first response, he wrote:

> Well, I am not sure how valuable such very abstract essays are. It sure
> doesn't help most practitioners in their daily work.

So. the only value in writing is to help practitioners deal with their
quotidian tasks?

That's one way to ensure a disciplines short-sightedness and lack of
relevance.

In Martijn's second response, he wrote:

> Ok, I'll be a bit more subtle then. I didn't mean that it was a bad
> article.
> However, for years people doing research in the area of Task
> Analysis/Contextual Inquiry/Ethnography/Semiotics/Activity Theory have
> been
> saying the same sort of things and have been posing the same sort of
> questions as Ted sums up.
>
> So although the 5 lenses correctly re-iterate what has already been
> said for
> years, I fail to see significant additional value in this model.

That's not the problem of the essay; it's a problem of your perception.

The essay recognizes that there's nothing "new" here... The whole point
of the essay is that for years people have been doing research in task
analysis/contextual inquiry/ethnography/semiotics/activity theory...
But they've all been talking at cross purposes, there's been no
framework for thinking about them in concert.

In each of his lenses, Erickson addresses disciplines that have been
working to better understand that space. Which suggests those
disciplines ought to be seeking out their commonalities, perhaps
working together to further our understanding.

Erickson's lenses serve to suggest a framework for thinking about how
all these efforts can come together in a common space.

> In other
> words, I rather have someone read books like 'Observing the User
> Experience'
> or 'Contextual Design' and read all about what this means AND what to
> do
> with it....

Are you attempting to meaningfully compare an essay/introduction that
probably takes up 5-6 printed pages, with entire books like _Contextual
Design_?

None of us are suggesting that by reading Erickson's essay, you, too,
can go out and design things.

> for example note the similarity between the lenses and the
> workmodels used in Contextual Design:
>
> Mind: Sequence model/Culture model
> Proxemics: Physical model/Activity model
> Artifacts: Object Model
> Social: Cultural Model/ Activity Model
> Ecological: Activity Model

Yes, but Contextual Design is only one way of getting at this. How can
I meaningfully compare Contextual Design, Goal-Directed Design,
Activity Theory in HCI, etc. etc.? Erickson's lenses suggest a
framework for such analysis.

> For me personally, it is too high-level to be of value...

And why should I care how it works, "for you personally"?

As demonstrated by both Lada and Ted, this framework is already
suggesting some interesting approaches for thinking about interaction
design.

Yes, it's high-level. But you've got to have high-level. You can't
build a discipline by simply cobbling together lots of little parts.

I'm dismayed by the sentiment against theoretical thought often
displayed on this, and other, practitioner lists. I encourage folks to
be willing to Think Big. You might be surprised by what you find.

--peter

21 Mar 2005 - 1:27pm
Coryndon Luxmoore
2004

Peter wrote:
>While you're all wasting your time discussing memetics and "selling" of
>your methodology, Tom Erickson does it again with an insightful
>>>>(and I think, profoundly controversial) essay

Peter wrote
>And why should I care how it works, "for you personally"?

I hope because through a respectful dialog we will gain the ability to
advance the field both through theoretical research AND by being effective
at selling or capabilities. Both efforts are meaningless without the other.
Creating a conflict between the two by resorting to personal attacks seems
pointless to me.

I personally found the essay interesting in that it draws many threads
together that I have found myself both instinctively drawing on during
projects and seems like a useful framework for organizing my current
knowledge and tools but it seems like one that is more effective as an
internally focused professional framework.

IMHO turning the field into a cohesive whole from a set of "Roving Tribes"
requires the more tactical approach as well.

--Coryndon

21 Mar 2005 - 2:52pm
Lada Gorlenko
2004

TB> BTW, I think you've misread 'Proxemics' by thinking of it as ergonomics
TB> and human factors. 'Proxemics' literally means 'the study of the
TB> nature, degree, and effect of the spatial separation individuals
TB> naturally maintain and of how this separation relates to environmental
TB> and cultural factors'. Ergonomics may be better included in the
TB> 'Artifacts' lens as it relates direct to the attributes of physical
TB> objects.

I misread it on purpose or, rather, I think there is flaw in Tom's
definition of the 5 lenses. I very much agree with 4 out of 5: Mind,
Artifacts, The Social, and The Ecological. These are clear and
distinct categories. However, 'Proxemics' as defined by Tom does not
have this distinctive flavour, particularly when the literally meaning
of the word is taken into account (so, at the end, is it about
cultural/social factors or environmental, both of which are already
present?)

If fact, you yourself proved this, probably even without noticing it!

TB> Proxemics
TB> • What is the physical context in which this activity happens?
compared to
TB> The Ecological
TB> • Where does the activity take place?

or

TB> Proxemics
TB> • What are their different social roles?
compared to
TB> The Social
TB> • What are the different social roles played by different participants?

Personally, I don't see the difference within each pair rather than
wording, and I failed to see the difference in the essay.

At the same time, one category that is missing in the Tom's set is
what can be largely called 'Body', e.g., necessary basics of human
anatomy and physiology, or what can be described as ergonomics and
anthropometry. This is not Mind, which is about perception and
cognitive functions. Neither it is Artifact, which is all about the
product, not the human actor. I quietly substituted the content of the
Proxemics category with the Body content, not to distract from the
main point I was making. However, I gratefully take your comment on
board, well spotted!

TB> For the purposes of this exercise, the term 'activity' would refer to
TB> things like 'playing chess', or 'paying bills', 'teaching a 3rd grade
TB> class', etc. The idea here is that asking these questions would ensure
TB> good, well-rounded coverage of a design project. Thoughts?

Completely agree. These are exactly the types of questions we should ask
about every product we design. Very good illustration of how seemingly
high-level ideas have down-to-earth practical implications.

Lada

21 Mar 2005 - 6:08pm
CD Evans
2004

On 21-Mar-05, at 10:16 PM, Martijn van Welie wrote:
> The building of a discipline indeed requires theories, but it also
> requires processes, techniques, decades of experience and grounding in
> practice/reality, ....with time we develop a track record and get the
> acceptance we desire/deserve! Many practitioners are probably most
> interested in processes and techniques because that is closest to
> their everyday life. Nonetheless, I think they will be interested in
> 'good theories' but not necessarily in 'theories' per se. Good
> theories are the ones withstanding empirical validation and succesful
> applications, up to the point where they allow for correct
> predictions. It is therefore appropriate to ask what the applicability
> of a theory is......

(I'm a bit impressed by the essay as it has a really wide scope, and I
think anything like the lenses can be applied to any part of any
project in any related way whatsoever.)

My worry is what Marijn is saying might actually come true, that we
develop a model that proves to work in interaction design and we stick
to it like flies to flypaper. Let's try to move beyond UCD and HCI and
The Elements and keep the theoretical input influencing the field.

I sometimes write a bit of practical theory on the side and encourage
everyone else to do so as well. We don't want to be stuck redesigning
the same interactions time and time again, and the only way to do that
is to break the mould with new thinking. There's not much satisfaction
right now in the reaction to the average interface, and I think theory
is one of the major pathways that we have toward designing for
satisfaction.

It's not convincing clients, it's smiles.

CD Evans

21 Mar 2005 - 7:44pm
Adam Korman
2004

In the article, Thomas Erickson writes: "Although some see interaction
design as particularly concerned with digital systems--either computer
systems or artifacts with embedded computational capabilities--I see no
reason to exclude humbler artifacts."

While I think there are a lot of good/interesting things in the
article, this is where it really falls down in my mind. There IS a
significant difference in designing digital system, because the
critical elements of the design have nothing to do with the artifacts.
For most of us, the only artifacts involved in the design are a mouse,
keyboard and display. Software has complex behavior driven by
relatively simple artifcats -- the interaction design of digital
systems is primarily about designing the "social" rather than the
physical. And the reason so much software is so bad is because people
approach designing software as if they are designing artifacts.

Regards, Adam

21 Mar 2005 - 8:23pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Mar 21, 2005, at 7:44 PM, Adam Korman wrote:

> While I think there are a lot of good/interesting things in the
> article, this is where it really falls down in my mind. There IS a
> significant difference in designing digital system, because the
> critical elements of the design have nothing to do with the artifacts.
> For most of us, the only artifacts involved in the design are a mouse,
> keyboard and display.

What about the interfaces for cell phones, PDAs, electronic devices? In
other words, what about when the digital world collides with the
physical world, as it is already doing, more and more each day? Soon
your doors and walls might have a lot more features than they do right
now, and we might interact with them in ways that don't involve a
mouse, keyboard, or a display. (iPod Shuffle anyone?) We shouldn't
limit our discipline to the current configuration of computers because
it may not last. In fact, I'll make a prediction: it will not last.
Already laptops and handheld devices are changing the ways we interact
and use computers.

> Software has complex behavior driven by relatively simple artifcats --
> the interaction design of digital systems is primarily about designing
> the "social" rather than the physical.

An interesting thought, but I'm not sure how true it is. I'd say most
digital systems now were more about the cognitive than either the
physical or social. Or emotional, for that matter.

> And the reason so much software is so bad is because people approach
> designing software as if they are designing artifacts.
>

I think there's a lot of reasons software is bad, but this isn't one of
them. Care to explain further?

Dan

21 Mar 2005 - 8:47pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Adam Korman wrote:

> In the article, Thomas Erickson writes: "Although some see interaction
> design as particularly concerned with digital systems--either computer
> systems or artifacts with embedded computational capabilities--I see no
> reason to exclude humbler artifacts."
>
> While I think there are a lot of good/interesting things in the article,
> this is where it really falls down in my mind. There IS a significant
> difference in designing digital system, because the critical elements of
> the design have nothing to do with the artifacts.

Not only that... IxD as it pertains to non-digital products is really
nothing more than industrial design for all intents and purposes, a well
established industry that doesn't need the likes of us trying to
redefine who they are or how they do what they do.

> Software has complex behavior driven by relatively simple artifcats --
> the interaction design of digital systems is primarily about designing
> the "social" rather than the physical. And the reason so much software
> is so bad is because people approach designing software as if they are
> designing artifacts.

Agreed. I would also add to that point that the field is so new that too
many people are approaching the design of software either too
academically or from a point of view that is not rooted in enough
pragmatic design practices.

Andrei

21 Mar 2005 - 9:40pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Mar 21, 2005, at 8:47 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> IxD as it pertains to non-digital products is really nothing more than
> industrial design for all intents and purposes, a well established
> industry that doesn't need the likes of us trying to redefine who they
> are or how they do what they do.

Is a computer a product of industrial design or interaction design? How
about the iPod? A digital radio tuner? We're working in a field filled
with devices that blend interaction design and industrial design. Why
else would industrial design shops like IDEO, frog, Smart Design, et
al. be hiring interaction designers? Not to mention Sony, Samsung,
Bose, Motorola, etc.?

My thought is we bring to the table a knowledge of behaviors and
systems of use that traditionally haven't been a part of the industrial
designer's repertoire. Industrial designers have many strengths that we
don't traditionally have either: form making, ergonomics, a knowledge
of physical materials and systems (electronics).

This isn't to say that industrial designers haven't been doing
interaction design. I'm sure there's quite a few industrial designers
on this list. Craig Vogel, former president of IDSA, says industrial
designers have been doing interaction design for years. Assuredly some
practiced it well, some not.

But the future, I think, is inter-disciplinary; it belongs to both
disciplines, working together (alongside other disciplines as well, of
course). Thirty years ago, the only desktop computers as we know them
were at Xerox PARC. Who's to say what thirty years from now will be
like, what different sorts of interactions--physical, cognitive,
social, etc--that members of this list will have come up with? Some of
these interactions will have to be realized by us working together with
industrial designers.

Dan

21 Mar 2005 - 11:05pm
Thomas Vander Wal
2004

Peter, thanks for sharing this.

On Mon, 21 Mar 2005 20:23:36 -0500, Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> On Mar 21, 2005, at 7:44 PM, Adam Korman wrote:
>
> > While I think there are a lot of good/interesting things in the
> > article, this is where it really falls down in my mind. There IS a
> > significant difference in designing digital system, because the
> > critical elements of the design have nothing to do with the artifacts.
> > For most of us, the only artifacts involved in the design are a mouse,
> > keyboard and display.
>
> What about the interfaces for cell phones, PDAs, electronic devices? In
> other words, what about when the digital world collides with the
> physical world, as it is already doing, more and more each day? Soon
> your doors and walls might have a lot more features than they do right
> now, and we might interact with them in ways that don't involve a
> mouse, keyboard, or a display. (iPod Shuffle anyone?) We shouldn't
> limit our discipline to the current configuration of computers because
> it may not last. In fact, I'll make a prediction: it will not last.
> Already laptops and handheld devices are changing the ways we interact
> and use computers.

I completely agree. Over the last four yearsI have been working on
the Model of Attraction as a framework for digital design and
development. One of the cornerstones is the receptors we use to
interact with information. The receptors are intellectual
(cognitive), perceptual (sensory), mechanical, and physical. Each of
these receptors has an impact on what we can do with designing
interaction. The spectrum of devices we are using to interact with
information and digital media are increasing everyday.

Much of this list is situated in the US, which is unfortuneate as it
really is behind with its understanding of mobile and portable
devices. The possibilities and capabilities have mechanical
boundaries for us to problem solve so to provide adaquate to fantastic
interactions with. The limited physical interaction with the device
is another property that must be solved for in our designs. The
environment will impact the physical receptors also as the person
using the device may be on public transporation and needing to hold on
with one hand, while trying to use the other hand to interact with the
device.

> > Software has complex behavior driven by relatively simple artifcats --
> > the interaction design of digital systems is primarily about designing
> > the "social" rather than the physical.

What definition of social is being used? Social as in interactive? Or
interpersonal? Or social in an emotive sense?

> An interesting thought, but I'm not sure how true it is. I'd say most
> digital systems now were more about the cognitive than either the
> physical or social. Or emotional, for that matter.

I completely think it is a balance of many here. Coginitive is but
one element that must be designed for. Short changing the physical
implications will damage the adpotion of a product very quickly.
Design must be well balanced across these areas. I am fairly sure you
know that Dan, but don't short change the balance for the sake of an
argument. Coginive is an important component, but it is only so in a
balance with others.

All the best,
Thomas

21 Mar 2005 - 11:31pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Mar 21, 2005, at 11:05 PM, Thomas Vander Wal wrote:
>> An interesting thought, but I'm not sure how true it is. I'd say most
>> digital systems now were more about the cognitive than either the
>> physical or social. Or emotional, for that matter.
>
> I completely think it is a balance of many here. Coginitive is but
> one element that must be designed for. Short changing the physical
> implications will damage the adpotion of a product very quickly.
> Design must be well balanced across these areas. I am fairly sure you
> know that Dan, but don't short change the balance for the sake of an
> argument. Coginive is an important component, but it is only so in a
> balance with others.
>

I wasn't suggesting that we shouldn't balance our products, only that
currently, digital products emphasize the cognitive over the social,
physical, and emotional. Probably not the ideal state of affairs.

Dan

22 Mar 2005 - 12:53am
Adam Korman
2004

> On Mar 21, 2005, at 7:44 PM, I wrote:
>> For most of us, the only artifacts involved in the design are a
>> mouse, keyboard and display.

Dan responded:
> What about the interfaces for cell phones, PDAs, electronic devices?
> [snip] ...and we might interact with them in ways that don't involve a
> mouse, keyboard, or a display. (iPod Shuffle anyone?) We shouldn't
> limit our discipline to the current configuration of computers because
> it may not last.

No disagreement here. Designing at the intersection of hardware and
software is doubly interesting/challenging. But when software is
involved, the software behavior becomes the overriding characteristic
of the interaction. The nature of product design is fundamentally
different when software is added to the mix than for purely physical
products. Most cell phones have roughly the same physical controls, but
the experience of using them is wildly different because of the
software. On the other hand, a trackball, mouse, trackpad, and wacom
tablet are very different physical interfaces for driving a cursor on a
computer display, but generally have the same effect in software.

I'm not arguing that hardware is irrelevant in interaction design, but
that when you're designing complex behavior and interactions, hardware
is just one (albeit significant!) facet of the behavior.

>> Software has complex behavior driven by relatively simple artifcats
>> -- the interaction design of digital systems is primarily about
>> designing the "social" rather than the physical.

> An interesting thought, but I'm not sure how true it is. I'd say most
> digital systems now were more about the cognitive than either the
> physical or social. Or emotional, for that matter.

Let me try to clarify. In the essay, Tom Erickson defines interaction
design as the
design of artifacts. I think it's really about the design of ... well,
interactions. In the model he presents, this falls in the "social" lens
(again, as he defines it). While the cognitive informs and reflects
interaction design, it is the interaction -- the communication, the
behavior -- which is the primary factor in the experience of using a
digital product.

>> And the reason so much software is so bad is because people approach
>> designing software as if they are designing artifacts.
>
> I think there's a lot of reasons software is bad, but this isn't one
> of them. Care to explain further?

The evidence of this approach is everywhere. My computer has a desktop,
folders, and files. I open windows with documents and forms. I've got
interfaces with tabs, palettes, radio buttons, sliders, etc. Whoops,
none of that is true. I'm actually just sitting in front of a screen
with a bunch of pixels on it that could display anything.

I'm not (just) saying these metaphors are bad, but that this sort of
focus has come at the expense of paying attention to how software
behaves and communicates with people. A shopping site isn't good
because it has a shopping basket. It's good because there are only 1
step to complete an order instead of 10, because the status of your
order is always clear, and you get confirmation that your transaction
was successful. How many sites have a shopping basket but get the
communication and behavior wrong?

Adam

22 Mar 2005 - 9:47am
Ted Booth
2004

On Mar 21, 2005, at 2:52 PM, Lada Gorlenko wrote:
> TB> BTW, I think you've misread 'Proxemics' by thinking of it as
> ergonomics and human factors.
>
> I misread it on purpose or, rather, I think there is flaw in Tom's
> definition of the 5 lenses. I very much agree with 4 out of 5: Mind,
> Artifacts, The Social, and The Ecological. These are clear and
> distinct categories. However, 'Proxemics' as defined by Tom does not
> have this distinctive flavour, particularly when the literally meaning
> of the word is taken into account (so, at the end, is it about
> cultural/social factors or environmental, both of which are already
> present?)
>
> At the same time, one category that is missing in the Tom's set is
> what can be largely called 'Body', e.g., necessary basics of human
> anatomy and physiology, or what can be described as ergonomics and
> anthropometry.

It's true Erickson doesn't explicitly mention ergonomics in his model.
It'd be interesting to hear from him where he thinks physical human
factors fit. It's hard to tell in reading his essay. He's gives
cognitive human factors a lot more coverage for sure - in both the
'Mind' and in the 'Artifact' lenses.

Where he does mention the 'Body' he seems more interested in the, what
I'll call, small interactions between people. The first sentence of the
'Proxemics' section:

"Proxemics: Moving on, we deploy a new lens, shifting our focus from
minds to bodies and the ways in which we use our bodies to interact
with one another."

What's interesting here is that he focuses more on communication than
on physical ability. So by thinking of this as ergonomics seems to
obscure the subtlety of his underlying point about 'Proxemics' - which
he describes as focusing on "the role of expression, posture, gaze,
gesture and timing in interactions within small groups". Sure this
overlaps with the 'Social', but not exactly because Erickson focuses on
social norms in his 'Social' lens. It also overlaps with the
'Ecological' but not exactly either because there he's looking at the
broader context (eg Washington Park, New York City).

As a practioner, looking at these smaller gestures can give insight
into the types of nonverbal communications that might need to be
supported, the types of situations that might arise, etc.

Perhaps a sixth lens is needed to cover ergonomics, or perhaps that can
be included into one of the 5. I would include it in the 'Artifact'
lens, but then that may open another, different discussion :-)

Ultimately, I think the value of this essay is it tries to create a
framework that is inclusive of all the different disciplines and
points-of-view involved in interaction design. Despite the fact that he
disavows the need for a unifying framework, the 5 Lenses are pointed in
that very direction. In this sense, the degree to which the 'Lenses'
cut across existing professional and academic distinctions strikes me
as tremendously useful.

22 Mar 2005 - 10:04am
Nick Ragouzis
2004

The particular message in Adam's and Dan's dialog cited
below (but otherwise trimmed as commanded) is, I think,
an interesting and fruitful intersection of perspectives
on this question.

Sure, industrial designers have been doing interaction
design, as have many other disciplines. And carpenters
were once doing automotive design. I imagine their work
contributed to the field's later evolution ... and that
some of them continued to design in the field as they
adopted newer materials and found the field's new goals,
objectives, tools, metrics, management, and financing.

The demarcation for interaction design *is* blurry, it
is an extent-and-scale question.

But I think the elements you measure to make your own
placement of that line are quite simple:

1. Information interaction
2. Behavior

Note that Behavior is of the human kind, not of artifacts
... that confusion is making it's contribution in this
discussion too.

Even more, this error in domain and placement (e.g., looking
at the image in the inverse) make it necessary to bring in
other elements to explain away other disciplines as well
(that is beyond industrial design, such as graphic design,
or information graphics). Or problems in placement/refactoring
(as exemplified in the ergonomics discussion).

Now, the Five Lenses *might* be helpful in locating that
demarcation, and flourishing in the promised land. Great.
Another tool might reconstitute the elements in another
way, or focus just on the more fundamental, raw, components.
But the crucial operation will turn out to be the ability
to recognize the influence exerted by the extent and scale
of information interaction and [human] behavior. Think of
this set, these two elements, as a lens of its own --
standing above the raw components, but projecting (above)
the shadows that Tom Erickson describes.

Such an operator/analysis helps even 'interaction designers'
recognize whether the artifact they are designing really
is in the realm of interaction design. Not all artifacts
having a major component of bits (even when made visual) is
interaction design. Even further, often the operations we
take in later design process are intended to -reduce- the
interaction design quotient (by altering the information,
the interaction, or the induced/coupled behaviors).

--Nick

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesi
> gners.com
> [mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interac
> tiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Adam Korman
> Sent: Monday, March 21, 2005 09:53 PM
> To: Dan Saffer; 'Interaction Designers'
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Five Lenses: Towards a Toolkit for
> Interaction Design
>
>

Syndicate content Get the feed