Scale of time perception

5 Apr 2006 - 3:23pm
8 years ago
7 replies
1304 reads
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Indeed, interaction design is design of *perceived* time. "Perceived"
qualifier is superfluous if you happen to be an experientialist (good book
on experientialism and on prototype theory of classification is "Women,
Fire, and Dangerous Things" by Lakoff). Incidentally we perceive gravity too
and can design to modify that perception.

Notice that attention is drawn to time intervals listed below when the time
intervals are violated. Hence design of attention is related but narrower
category than design of time.

To design time one needs to be aware of time properties. All times are
approximate within one order of magnitude.

----------------------------------------------------------------
*Time* - Perception [*Example of interval perception*] - Possible underlying
mechanism
*----------------------------------------------------------------*

*0.1 second* - perception of causation ["*Is this button sticky or
what?"]*- eye saccade, low level neuron pattern activation - this
interval is
important for nonchoppy animation

*1 second* - perception of interval of taking turns in conversation ["*Go
open that Window already, will you*?"] - ?

*10 seconds* - attention span before it begins to drift from a single task
[" *I like the colors. And the point is?"]* - low level pattern activation
in neocortex - this particular interval is especially important in movie
editing

All time intervals listed above are important for design of perceived system
response time (see GUI Bloopers).
Attention span is important for interaction design of single layout.
Recognition is somewhere in the above time scale.

*1 min* - recall, formation of mental model???, just guesses here

*10-30 min* - formation of flow experience: *["I think I see where you
going", "Where was I?", "What time is it?", "Eureka!"*] - predictive pattern
preactivation in higher layers of neocortex

*1 day* - short memory storage, formation of long term memory: ["*Who wrote
that message about design of time yesterday?"]* - interaction of hippocampus
and neocortex

*1 week* - learning simple skill ["*Gmail? What is it?"]:* Hebbian learning?

*1 year* - learning complex skill ["*Unix command interface? No problem..*."]
- formation of significantly new patterns and propagation of stable patterns
into lower levels of neocortex, Hebbian learning?

*10 years* - formation of values pattern ["*Who am I?" - a midlife crisis
question*] - persistent neocortex patterns

*Lifetime (100 years)* - individual memory [" *Who was that bully in the
high school?"]* - persistent neocortex patterns

*Thousands of years* - societal, cultural memory ["*Who is this God person
anyway*?"] - storytelling

*Millions of years* - DNA memory: ["*Whom will I sleep with tonight?" -
perennial question of selfish gene*] - "lizard" brain

--
Oleh Kovalchuke

Comments

5 Apr 2006 - 3:34pm
Marc Rettig
2004

Hello,
As others have been noting, perception of time is very tricky. A wonderful
book on the cultural ingredient in that recipe:

A Geography of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist, or
How Every Culture Keeps Time Just a Little Bit Differently
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0465026427

I can't say I've ever applied ideas from this book to work in interaction
design, and I find the idea that started this thread to be um, a less than
useful characterization of the challenge of interaction design. But I might
one day. One memorable take-away for me is the notion that people in some
cultures behave according to "clock time" ("I'll meet you at 7"), while
others behave according to "event time" ("I'll meet you after supper"). The
ripple effects of this difference are *very* far-reaching.

I do love the book, and recommend it to those of you who do find this topic
valuable.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Marc Rettig
Fit Associates, LLC
www.fitassociates.com

5 Apr 2006 - 3:46pm
Dave Malouf
2005

HI Marc,

I love that reference. My background is in anthropology and specifically the
area known as "culture and personality" where psychology and anthropology
converge, so your example is quite excellent b/c it talks about how personal
frames of reference are embedded in our linguistic constructs. Oy! I can go
on here all day and night!

Now! You said that you didn't find the initial framing that interaction
design is (and I'm paraphrasing) directly related to in whole or in part to
the design of time useful to your thinking of Interaction Design.

Now, I know you do think about the linguistic or dialog attributes of
interaction design, but I'm curious as to what other areas do you feel the
IxD manipulate in order to provide their end of the user experience
solution. (Disclaimer: on purpose I'm trying to separate IxD from UX more
generally, and that there is quite a specific discipline of IxD that works
with other disciplines in concert to create that solution. So if
presentation design is melody, would IxD be rhythm--i.e. the tempo.
Obviously that analogy doesn't quite work perfectly, but rhythm and tempo
are the "time" aspects of a musical composition and a percussionist is that
specialist of managing rhythm, but also managing tones of percussion.

I do soo that we are the ones who set the pace, and even the rhythm of
digital solutions, while the presentation layer (industrial or visual
design) set the emotional tone. Now rhythm and tempo also offer an emotional
and thus aesthetic of their own, but in a more secondary fashion than the
melody.

(oy! I hope someone can bring this back to the practical very soon! Even my
ears are starting to bleed.)

-- dave

5 Apr 2006 - 4:18pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Marc Rettig wrote:
>...and I find the idea that started this thread to be um, a less than
>useful characterization of the challenge of interaction design. But I
might one day.

It's not unusual. I like this quote on acceptance of new ideas I have
heard on NPR one day: "There are three stages of scientific discovery:
1. people deny it is true, 2. deny it is important, and 3. credit it
to the wrong person."
--
Oleh Kovalchuke

On 4/5/06, Marc Rettig <mrettig at well.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Hello,
> As others have been noting, perception of time is very tricky. A wonderful
> book on the cultural ingredient in that recipe:
>
> A Geography of Time: The Temporal Misadventures of a Social Psychologist, or
> How Every Culture Keeps Time Just a Little Bit Differently
> http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0465026427
>
> I can't say I've ever applied ideas from this book to work in interaction
> design, and I find the idea that started this thread to be um, a less than
> useful characterization of the challenge of interaction design. But I might
> one day. One memorable take-away for me is the notion that people in some
> cultures behave according to "clock time" ("I'll meet you at 7"), while
> others behave according to "event time" ("I'll meet you after supper"). The
> ripple effects of this difference are *very* far-reaching.
>
> I do love the book, and recommend it to those of you who do find this topic
> valuable.
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Marc Rettig
> Fit Associates, LLC
> www.fitassociates.com
>
>

5 Apr 2006 - 7:47pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

"Three stages of scientific discovery - stage 2. deny it is important..."
Why is "Interaction design is design of time" theory important?

*Practical implications*:

Unified approach to interaction design evaluation. A stumble to ponder "Why
is this warning written in green and not in red?" could be quantitatively
compared to two clicks and scroll to use drop down menu, to system
responsiveness.

For once system responsiveness could be incorporated as one of the more
prominent properties of interaction design (among other time consuming
properties). Jeff Johnson lamented lack of attention to system
resposiveness in his book "GUI Bloopers".
Time based approach to interaction design suggests criteria for quantitative
evaluation of various interaction designs, both heuristics and usability
testing - the holy grail of academia. For that to happen the time perception
table below would have to be expanded and validated (potential degree
generating project). Of course in business environment Krug's "Don't make me
think" approach, reduce clutter in mental and physical load will remain
preferred, cost efficient method.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke

> Indeed, interaction design is design of *perceived* time. "Perceived"
> qualifier is superfluous if you happen to be an experientialist (good book
> on experientialism and on prototype theory of classification is "Women,
> Fire, and Dangerous Things" by Lakoff). Incidentally we perceive gravity too
> and can design to modify that perception.
>
> Notice that attention is drawn to time intervals listed below when the
> time intervals are violated. Hence design of attention is related but
> narrower category than design of time.
>
> To design time one needs to be aware of time properties. All times are
> approximate within one order of magnitude.
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> *Time* - Perception [*Example of interval perception*] - Possible
> underlying mechanism
> *---------------------------------------------------------------- *
>
> *0.1 second* - perception of causation ["*Is this button sticky or what?"]
> * - eye saccade, low level neuron pattern activation - this interval is
> important for nonchoppy animation
>
> *1 second* - perception of interval of taking turns in conversation ["*Go
> open that Window already, will you*?"] - ?
>
> *10 seconds* - attention span before it begins to drift from a single task
> [" *I like the colors. And the point is?"]* - low level pattern activation
> in neocortex - this particular interval is especially important in movie
> editing
>
> All time intervals listed above are important for design of perceived
> system response time (see GUI Bloopers).
> Attention span is important for interaction design of single layout.
> Recognition is somewhere in the above time scale.
>
> *1 min* - recall, formation of mental model???, just guesses here
>
> *10-30 min* - formation of flow experience: *["I think I see where you
> going", "Where was I?", "What time is it?", "Eureka!"*] - predictive
> pattern preactivation in higher layers of neocortex
>
> *1 day* - short memory storage, formation of long term memory: ["*Who
> wrote that message about design of time yesterday?"]* - interaction of
> hippocampus and neocortex
>
> *1 week* - learning simple skill ["*Gmail? What is it?"]:* Hebbian
> learning?
>
> *1 year* - learning complex skill ["*Unix command interface? No problem..*."]
> - formation of significantly new patterns and propagation of stable patterns
> into lower levels of neocortex, Hebbian learning?
>
> *10 years* - formation of values pattern ["*Who am I?" - a midlife crisis
> question*] - persistent neocortex patterns
>
> *Lifetime (100 years)* - individual memory [" *Who was that bully in the
> high school?"]* - persistent neocortex patterns
>
> *Thousands of years* - societal, cultural memory ["*Who is this God person
> anyway*?"] - storytelling
>
> *Millions of years* - DNA memory: ["*Whom will I sleep with tonight?" -
> perennial question of selfish gene*] - "lizard" brain
>
> --
> Oleh Kovalchuke
>

5 Apr 2006 - 11:16pm
Simon King
2004

> Why is "Interaction design is design of time" theory important?
> *Practical implications*:
> Unified approach to interaction design evaluation.

It seems wrong to me to refer to IxD as the "design of time" rather than
"design that unfolds over time", particularly as a unifying approach.
Musicians and filmmakers face similar challenges since the form of their
work inherently takes shape over time, yet they wouldn't define what they do
solely in those terms. Rather, time is a material -- we are designing *with*
time but not time itself.

I think there was a consensus that the goal is not always speed but just as
a reminder -- maybe sometimes the goal is "slow". http://www.slowdesign.org/

Simon

6 Apr 2006 - 8:40am
Marc Rettig
2004

Hi,
I was going to stay out of this, but David pulled me in <smile>.

> Now, I know you do think about the linguistic or dialog attributes of
> interaction design, but I'm curious as to what other areas do you feel the
> IxD manipulate in order to provide their end of the user experience
> solution.

Well, if "interaction" is an exchange of signals or signs between people and
a system, or between people through a system...
and if "interaction design" is about creating the appropriate means or
conditions for that exchange...
what are all the ingredients involved in doing a good job of interaction
design? Here's an off-the-cuff start of a list, a partial answer to your
question:

o semantics: embodying the "right" meanings in the system and the interface

o symbols: mapping the meanings to elements that map "naturally" to those
meanings -- visual elements, audio elements, gestures, textures, relative
locations, movements and changes, etc.

o relationships: sequences, branching structures, conditional
relationships, state-transition structures, entity-relationship
structures,... we could go on and on. Some of these relationships exist
inside the system, some of them exist out in the world. This is partly
subsumed by the "semantics," but deserves separate mention because it is so
much a part of the tangled set of concerns in interaction design.

o constructs: [I really don't know what words to use here -- in practice I
can talk about things specific to the project: an interface, a page, a
transaction, a sequence, etc. But this conversation about the nature of
interaction design forces me to be abstract.] We create organized groupings
of symbols (organized in space, time, or both) which themselves have
meaning.

o behaviors: communication typically happens through some change, and we
all use many categories of these things in our work. Action-response pairs.
Feedback. Attention-getting or attention-directing behaviors.

o sensing: inputs of all stripes

o processing: computational transformations, retrievals, generative
behaviors, simulation behaviors, and much cetera

I'll stop there, not because this list is complete, but because it contains
the basics that come to mind as I write and because it's long enough to
illustrate my reaction against the generalization that "interaction design
is the design of time."

Of course time is a factor. Interactions happen over time. And yes, we
should indeed think about things like pacing, perceived meanings of pauses,
the effect of response time, and so on. But when I do that I think about
"pace," not "time."

And if I'm teaching interaction design, it might be a useful exercise to
have time be a core concern of an assignment. As one example, it is useful
to think about the "dramatic arc" of a transaction -- the rise of
expectation and uncertainty, how much is tolerable, how soon it comes to
resolution and how that makes people feel (tip of the hat to Brenda Laurel
and her book, "Computers as Theater").

But would I teach interaction design as the design of time? What would that
mean? What would it involve? How would it not create a class of
big-thinking, ill-equipped students?

I did like the thread in this conversation about attention. I frequently
deal with issues having to do with whether/when something takes initiative,
and how. How and when to guide someone's attention. Whether the interaction
is taking place at the center of someone's attention, at the periphery, or
as part of a confusing set of demands for attention. Attention is a limited
resource, and many designs suffer from the assumption that people have more
of it to give than they really do.

I hope this doesn't come across as cranky. This discussion is interesting,
and another tip of the hat to Oleh for offering his thoughts to the group.
It's a risk to put ideas, big statements like this out into the public, and
this is a good discussion.

But again, for me "time" is so general and ambiguous as a concept and so
partial in its coverage of the real work of interaction design that I can't,
you know, harness my ox to it. Can't hang my hat on it. I lit it, but it
doesn't smoke.

Sorry so lengthy. Who has time to read this stuff? <grin>

Cheers,
Marc

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Marc Rettig
Fit Associates, LLC
www.fitassociates.com
www.marcrettig.com

6 Apr 2006 - 1:26pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

This illustrates another peculiar property of human mind. The idea has to
expressed in one simple chunk, not in three paragraphs. Otherwise the
qualifiers (second and third paragraph) will be ignored. On elementary level
an example would be shape perception: perception of either two faces or a
vase in Rubin's Vase. On more complex concept level this is known in
marketing as "own a word in the customer's mind" ("cola", "overnight" etc.).

I should have written this:

*We live in time. The goal of interaction design is design of time in user
defined meaningful way. User gives time meaning based on perceived length of
the time interval. The scale for time perception provides practical outline
of meaning of different time periods.*

Interaction designer has to be able to uncover and *incorporate those time
interval meanings, which users do not consciously articulate *(this is what
contextual interviews as well as formal education in philosophy and human
sciences (physiology, linguistics, anthropology, sociology...) are for) -
this important qualifying concept had to be written in a separate paragraph
and hence it will be lost initially and brought to everyone's attention
later on (just wait and see).

It follows then that *meaningless time fluff should be removed* by
interaction designer. *Time disruptions due to safety concerns are not
meaningless* hence should not be considered time fluff and should be
incorporated into design. It also follows then that to see and *to
incorporate meaning interaction designer has to be well versed in human
sciences* (and in philosophy).

I believe the above definition addresses slow design, Myst game experience,
social nature of humans as well as safety concerns.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke

> To design time one needs to be aware of time properties. All times are
> approximate within one order of magnitude.
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> *Time* - Perception [*Example of interval perception*] - Possible
> underlying mechanism
> *---------------------------------------------------------------- *
>
> *0.1 second* - perception of causation ["*Is this button sticky or what?"]
> * - eye saccade, low level neuron pattern activation - this interval is
> important for nonchoppy animation
>
> *1 second* - perception of interval of taking turns in conversation ["*Go
> open that Window already, will you*?"] - ?
>
> *10 seconds* - attention span before it begins to drift from a single task
> ["*I like the colors. And the point is?"]* - low level pattern activation
> in neocortex - this particular interval is especially important in movie
> editing
>
> All time intervals listed above are important for design of perceived
> system response time (see GUI Bloopers).
> Attention span is important for interaction design of single layout.
> Recognition is somewhere in the above time scale.
>
> *1 min* - recall, formation of mental model???, just guesses here
>
> *10-30 min* - formation of flow experience: *["I think I see where you
> going", "Where was I?", "What time is it?", "Eureka!"*] - predictive
> pattern preactivation in higher layers of neocortex
>
> *1 day* - short memory storage, formation of long term memory: ["*Who
> wrote that message about design of time yesterday?"]* - interaction of
> hippocampus and neocortex
>
> *1 week* - learning simple skill ["*Gmail? What is it?"]:* Hebbian
> learning?
>
> *1 year* - learning complex skill ["*Unix command interface? No problem..*."]
> - formation of significantly new patterns and propagation of stable patterns
> into lower levels of neocortex, Hebbian learning?
>
> *10 years* - formation of values pattern ["*Who am I?" - a midlife crisis
> question*] - persistent neocortex patterns
>
> *Lifetime (100 years)* - individual memory [" *Who was that bully in the
> high school?"]* - persistent neocortex patterns
>
> *Thousands of years* - societal, cultural memory ["*Who is this God person
> anyway*?"] - storytelling
>
> *Millions of years* - DNA memory: ["*Whom will I sleep with tonight?" -
> perennial question of selfish gene*] - "lizard" brain
>
> --
> Oleh Kovalchuke
>

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