A Brief Rant On The Future Of Interaction Design


Technology is the easy part; human nature is something we’re stuck with.

What we use for interaction? Hands.

  • feel
  • manipulating

To me, claiming that Pictures Under Glass is the future of interaction is like claiming that black-and-white is the future of photography. It’s obviously a transitional technology. And the sooner we transition, the better.

Some thinking about it

Before I just regarded tangible user interface as a creatively way of interaction. Now I see it as the future of interaction. It is not “new”, it is just “natural”. It compensates the flaw of our now everywhere 2D screens, aka pics under glass.

The Art of Interactive Design

What is interaction?

key elements
  • two actors
  • steps: input/listen - process/think - output/speak

How to define the degree of interaction?

What high-level interaction should have

  • input/listen well
  • process/think well
  • output/speak well

The three elements (listen, think, speak) remind me of Turing’s Machine, the basic model of computer. Input, process, output. I think it is no coincidence. In a broader way, they are all about information.

What is not interaction?

  • book
  • dance
  • movie

They are REACTION.

The author didn’t mention game. Game is one of my favorite parts because I think it is super media. It combines almost everything we use for interaction, and it is still changing and updating.


User interface is more about COMMUNICATION other than interaction. It’s narrower.

diff 1 diff2
Communication listen speak math/science
Interaction think listen speak arts/humanities

The author says,

The user interface designer never presumes to address the thinking content of software (the algorithms that determine its core behaviors).

But I cannt agree with it. I think nowadays HCI does a lot about the “think” part. Like the design of Apple OSX system is trying to make people focus on their current task, and reduce the distraction of shifting among multitasks. But it’s true interaction cares more about forms while communication values more about function.

Also, the author says communicaiton is more about math/science, while interaction is more about arts/humanities, which I largely agree. But shouldn’t the two thing be combined together?

Then I got a good answer from author,

We must incorporate the wisdom of older fields into the larger design framework of interactivity.

Graphic design and multimedia

They bring new things to interaction, but they also have inappropriate predilections of their earlier careers.

Another common misconception is that the design process can be broken into two steps: the graphic design step and the “interactivizing” step.

Cannot agree more.

The importance of interaction

Interactivity is important for designers because it is a new and revolutionary communication medium, yet a tried and true way to learn. Interactive communication is
superior to conventional, one-way communication. Interactivity is also the computer’s intrinsic competitive advantage. For artists, interactivity represents an exciting and unexplored field of effort.

  • It’s New! It’s Revolutionary
  • It’s Tried and True!
  • It’s Better
  • It’s the Computer’s Basis of Competitive Advantage
  • It’s Unknown Territory

I like it. But I retain my opinion about “Interactive communication is superior to conventional, one-way communication”.

Then the author gives his explanation,

Interactivity is superior to all other forms of human expression in one way: it engages the human mind more powerfully than any other form of expression. When we truly interact with someone or something, we are truly engaged.

And I feel a lot happened about computer since the book, some standpoints of the author may not be true. like this one,

Software designers who try to compete with movies, music, or printed graphics are guaranteed to lose.

: )

But truly interactivity is a great advantage of computer, which is fast enough to make realtime interaction happen.

Some Notes from Class


  • analog
  • digital



  • explicit interaction
  • implicit interaction (love this)

About environment

do not let ppl read.
give them the cicumstance and then they know.

What makes people stay

changes,more details,deeper storytelling

Discussion:how to validate an assumption

  • playtest: see what’s their answer and what’s the highest percent reaction
  • what people: target users of your product