"There is no [IxD]" -- neo (why it doesn't matter)

26 Jan 2011 - 9:21am
5 years ago
3 replies
2024 reads
Dave Malouf

I'm only creating this thread b/c people in another thread started talking about it, and that thread was a completely different topic. The article reference is a post I made on my blog that you can find here: http://davemalouf.com/

The thread that was accidentally hijacked is here: http://www.ixda.org/node/29178

In the article I propose that IxD as a discipline has qualities which make it easy for its existence to be either temporary or unimportant due to history and culture and its own properties. I also clearly state that it while it should change the way we do practice it does not really change anything about the community of practice (at this time).

One person in the previously mentioned through posted this:

Interesting take, so IxDA is really just a way of thinking through problems and also to come up with new ideas that can be applied to design? 
Have you read Bret Victor's "Magic Ink" article which discusses the problem with interactivity? http://worrydream.com/MagicInk/#interactivity_considered_harmful 
I really like his writings and his explanations take the misty layer off of IxDA. (@JustineLam)

I don't think it is a "just a way of thinking through problem", but is much bigger. It is a word to describe a collection of many things we had to create in order to manage the issues created by digital technology, especially complexity due to the tremendous scale of states in digital system.

We have had to create entire new knowledge systems, new ways of acquiring and evaluating that knowledge. We had to create new tools for exploration, and new processes for making and thinking.

The issue is that because technology is contextual to time and the temporary meaning "technology" has at any given time within any given culture, a focus on technology is quite meaningless as a medium. In fact, the discipline itself (like everything in The Matrix; red pill anyone--Thus the reference) is a metaphor of our time to help us contextualize and thus understand this moment in time. Again from the trilogy, "Karma ... it is a word" and thus so is "Interaction Design".

So why write the piece at all? I have been noticing a growing absorption with trying to prove that IxD is x or y. There is a way where we've been taking ourselves WAY too seriously and I feel this egotism has been making it difficult for us to have the greatest impact we can have in the wider world of design, who desperately want to learn and use what we know and do.

I think that for the hard-practitioner it is best to focus on mediums in a transdisciplinary way, as opposed to thinking that IxD is a silo. 

But for all I know this is a passing fleeting thought like many I have had over the last 10+ years of writing and thinking about this stuff. 


26 Jan 2011 - 9:57am
Justin Davis

Interesting post, Dave. I agree with you in that IxD does have some qualities that may make it a transitory discipline. With that said, I think the fundamental human-centered design process has enough meat to it to withstand the transitory nature of various mediums. 

This has become more and more clear to me in one small faction of the UX/IxD space: usability. As I work with clients, I see more often that they're getting better at basic usability. Developers and visual designers are understanding more about how to craft easy-to-use interfaces, and I think that'll continue as the body of research and practices around that discipline matures. What that's made me realize is that design - specifically human-centered design and the processes we use to develop interactive products that deliver a great experience - will continue to move up the strategic ladder, becoming less about the specific technical implications, and more about the larger experience ecosystem design ramifications.  In that way, design becomes abstracted away from specific mediums, able to transcend them much more efficiently (and providing greater scalability for the discipline).

The emerging service design discipline is a great example. That particular faction of IxD (if you want to consider it that) uses much of the same design theory and processes, but applied to a wholly different context and medium.

Anyway, just some rambling thoughts. Would love to continue the conversation at Interaction '11.

26 Jan 2011 - 10:59am
Jack L. Moffett

The emerging service design discipline is a great example. That particular faction of IxD (if you want to consider it that) uses much of the same design theory and processes, but applied to a wholly different context and medium.

Game design is another one.

26 Jan 2011 - 11:06am
Dave Malouf

Never have to ask me twice for an opportunity for an in person conversation about this stuff. ;)

Regarding usability. It is both a quality of "good" design and the collection of processes and methods for measuring and improving said quality. That quality is completely transitory to every medium where designs are being used.

-- dave

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