Notes on interaction design & development. Get the Feed.
By Christoph Ono, builder at GBKS, and tweetable at @GBKS.

Bruce Mau Translates the Power of Design


We’re inventing new scientific domains, new technologies all at the fastest pace ever. That produces noise, but design and architecture makes it music. The practice of making music from noise is one of the greatest challenges and opportunities we have. Our work is to take many contradictory inputs and synthesize those into positive, productive, new clarity.

Process is Process


we should look to architects and urban planners for inspiration in our process. He said that products like Facebook and Twitter are spaces that people dont just use but exist in. They are environments that form behavior. This really resonated with me because it feels so true. People act differently on Twitter, Facebook, Quora, 4chan, Snapchat, not because these are all different types of people but because of the way these spaces are designed. We should learn how to create spaces to guide and encourage behavior. We can't just apply the same process that you would when designing a physical clock (Sorry Dieter Rams). We have to do more because the things we are building have become so much more. You may have heard of Twitter referred to as a town square before. This is because of subtle and powerful product decisions that made it feel that way. In Twitter, anyone can yell and some of them are heard. There is no other way to exist in the twitter space. Now I don't think we need physical metaphors for every product we make. That's not the point. The point is that every space has attributes that form behavior. If you built a park with no trash cans, people would throw their trash on the ground. If you build a photo sharing app with self destructing content, people are going to share naked pictures.

Fairytales much older than previously thought, say researchers


Analysis showed Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when eastern and western Indo-European languages split – more than 5,000 years ago. Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old. A folk tale called The Smith and the Devil was estimated to date back 6,000 years to the bronze age.

Google self-driving car lead dismissive of Tesla-like iterative autonomy approach in first public comments


“Aiming for full autonomy not only reaches the most people, our team believes it’s also the safest approach,” Krafcik told the assembled car folks. “Having this audacious goal was what drew me to the Google self-driving car project.”

But is it a realistic approach? To me, Google's insistence of replacing people seems like an immature perspective of the world. The world is complex, people are complex, and technology is at it's best when it supports and empowers people and reduces complexity and friction around activities people want to do. My not-expert impression is that getting from semi-autonomous vehicles to completely autonomous vehicles is 1,000,000,000,000 times the effort, and believing you can get there instantly just seems a little arrogant. Having audacious goals doesn't mean you can't iterate yourself there. And it's not just yourself, the world needs to accept and adjust to this technology.

4 things I learned from Breaking Smart about the future of work


What is an infinite game? It’s a game you play, forever. Why would you continue playing a game forever? Because your desire to simply enjoy the process of playing the game outweighs any specific result you could achieve from the game itself. The simple joy of creative play is the end you seek, and so you seek for ways to just keep playing.

Harsh empathy


However, that dark side or empathy comes up again and again. Our empathy for customers results in unnecessarily harsh judgements. We judge the people who did the work that preceded us, the people that run the companies we work for, the people that we work with on a day to day basis.

I was once speaking with a friend about a usability review of a website he’d worked on over a number of years. It was clear that he felt the whole thing was a waste of time. It turns out the problem was that the review contained comments along the lines of “Clearly, no consideration has been given to…”, “It appears that no one has thought about…”, “Not sure what the aim was here.” These comments were certainly coming from the right place: empathy for the customer, but the end result of these comments was that nothing in the usability was going to be acted on.

This friend had worked passionately over a number of years to make his company succeed and had been involved in most of the areas of the website which were being commented on. His response to the comments was something along the lines of “F*** them. They clearly don’t understand the challenges and thinking that went into those pages. They didn’t even ask about it. We’re not changing anything.”

Text Me? Ping Me? Communications Overload in the Digital Age


There was a period last summer when my 25-year-old sister, Willa, decided to start communicating with me through comments on the rapper Drake’s Instagram feed. Sometimes it would just be to say hi; other times to inform me of her plans for the weekend, or to relay an amusing anecdote. Once or twice, we carried on full back-and-forth conversations. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Sure, it seemed a little strange that she wouldn’t just text me, but I figured it was just some Millennial Thing I didn’t understand.