Thoughtful Interaction Design
Chapter 2 of the article Thoughtful Interaction Design, concerns itself with the process by which an idea for a design is brought to life. For this reason the chapter itself is named The Process. In this chapter, authors Lowgren and Stolterman argue that there is no one specific way to approach the creation of a design. Instead, the two advocate for a process in which a designer does not abide by the rigid steps of established design processes but instead uses his/her own “reflective and critical mind” to borrow elements from set design processes to assist in the creation of the design. For this reason, it is critical that the designer has, as Lowgren and Stolterman write, “a thoughtful understanding of how design can serve a purpose.” This will provide the designer with some direction, and the creation of a design will follow thereafter.
Furthermore, Lowgren and Stolterman identify three levels of abstraction that are present in the early stages of the design work. These are the Vision, the Operative Image, and the Specification. In their own words, Vision refers to the “First organizing principles that helps the designer to structure the initial attempts to respond to the situation at hand.” As such, a vision is not a solution to a “situation”.On the other hand, the Operative Image refers to the very first version of a design. It is “a first externalization of the vision,” which is, more often than not, comprised of sketches that convey the general idea of the vision. As the process continues, these images will become more detailed and defined. Finally, the last level, Specification, refers to the decision to stick to one final Operative Image and make this the final and definitive design. A designer, the authors argue, should learn how to interweave these levels of abstraction through a “fully dynamic dialectical process.” Where one learns that each level continuously influences the other.
As a designer myself, I found that this article confirmed some of my own beliefs about the design process while also providing new and valuable insights. I agree with the authors that creativity is essential towards the creation of a design and that if a dilemma is to be solved one must be creative enough to find a way out. Additionally, I agree with their notions of how a designer should communicate with others who work on the project and the steps that need to be taken to achieve a vision. In short, I found this article to be very interesting.
Drawing Connections–How Interfaces Matter
The article Drawing Connections–How Interfaces Matter concerns itself with the significance of computer interfaces in the world of today. Author Jan Distelmeyer points out that once elaborate and clunky interfaces have, in the wake of the 21st Century, now become so seamless, we often tend to forget that they are even there. Quoting N. Katherine Hayle, Distelmeyer reminds us that new media platforms like smartphones, laptops, GPS devices, etc. “have created environments in which physical and virtual realms merge in fluid and seamless ways.” However, Distelmeyer reminds us that the significance of the interfaces used in these devices cannot be understated.
Furthermore, Distelmeyer advocates for “the establishment of the discipline of interface studies and analyses in the humanities.” He argues that the study of these interfaces is highly important, if not necessary, as they “define today’s reality in mani-fold ways.” He points out that there are many more interfaces around us than we realize. For instance, while we may recognize that there is an interface that helps us users connect with the hardware of our smartphones, we may not realize that there is an equally impressive interface that connects these smartphones to larger networks such as cell phone towers and the internet. These interfaces exist, and while we may not be aware of them the way we are of the operating systems, they are actively defining today’s reality.
I found this article to be the most interesting out of the two that we read for this week. Before reading this article, I had some basic insights as to what an interface can do. However, upon further reflection about the contents of this article, I realized the extent to which these interfaces influence our modern way of live. It is honestly crazy to think that just a couple of years ago we used to live very different lifestyles which were then improved thanks to new advances in hardware and interfaces. All in all, this was a very inspiring article that will definitely have an influence in how I approach the design of my own interactive design.