Session notes from Chris Fahley - The Human Interface / wv2010

The Human Interface
Chris Fahley
http://graphpaper.com
@chrisfahley
  • Cyborg: embedding or attaching technology to our bodies to make us better
    • contacts, glasses, jotting things down to remember them
  • The history of humanity is the history of becoming cyborgs
  • This isn’t always a good thing, sometimes the technology falls short
  • The Uncanny Valley (Masahiro Mori)
    • Two dimensions: how comfortable humans are around robots, and how closely the  robots mimic humanspastedGraphic.pdf
  • Lessons So Far
    • Don’t replace humans
    • Don’t replicate humans
  • What childhood experiences brought you into design?
    • Take things apart to see how they work
    • Fixing broken things
    • Creating Little Worlds
  • Lots of design stuff is not new. Example of multitouch display from 25 years ago, of Apple pad demo video from 25 years ago that’s like an iPad with AI
  • Jef Raskin: “An interface is humane if it is responsible to human needs and is considerate of human frailties”
  • Alan Cooper: If we want users to like our software, we should design it like a likeable human being
  • We make better products when we think of them as human beings
  • Future
    • We’ll see a return to command line interfaces: not necessarily arcane commands, but typing or saying what we want, rather than pointing and clicking
    • We’ll see more physicality of user interfaces
  • Not merely mimicking human behavior but reflects it.
  • Software that mirrors behavior:
    • Chat and IM reflect the immediacy of face to face community
    • Social networks mirroring the structure of the special primacy we give our close friends.
  • The Human Interface
    • is about persausion and seduction
    • is smart and has awareness
    • is empathetic and feeling
    • is physical and embodied
    • is linguistic, poetic, and narrative (creates compelling stories about our interactions)
    • has a name and an identity
    • has a personality
  • Paul Dourish: Where the Action Is
    • Embodied Interaction: the intersection of ubiquitous computing, tangible computing, and social computing.
  • Reeves and Nass: The Media Equation
    • Experiments they did on users and machines to figure out how we perceive them
    • We tend to personify the interfaces we interact with
  • Ergonomics of the mind
    • Cups designed by the other Masahiro Mori, such that they each have their own personalitypastedGraphic_1.pdf
  • Human-ness
    • Christopher Alexander: The Quality Withou a Name aka The Phenomenon of Life
    • Fifteen properties of Living Structures
    • Katherine Isbister: Better Game Characters by Design
      • external characteristics of personhood: bodies, faces, vices
      • internal: ...
  • The Three Qualia of the Human Interface
    • Sentience
    • Intimacy
    • Personality
  • Sentience
    • The system is about to collect robust sensory data from the world and make sense of that data
      • voice recognition: e.g. google voice recognition mobile apps
      • image and face recognition: e.g. google picasa
      • touch and gestures: touching a screen, moving a controller
    • Not always that great... fitbit counts how many steps you take. It’s not perfect, but they can discover a lot about your motion and activity.
    • Microsoft Project Natal: just observes your body.
    • Artificial Intelligences
      • all of these things have artificial intelligence in them
      • the difference between these and HAL is that they are not trying to do it all at once.
      • (they are no danger of falling into the uncanny valley)
    • Even simple things can be unnerving: 
      • e.g. search results that are uncannily good. 
      • Search that pops up microsoft bing advertisement with search term prepopulated
  • Intimacy
    • Emotional Intelligence
    • Proximity
    • Presence
    • Social Web
    • Personal Informatics
    • Multiplayer Games
    • Real Time Web
    • Conversations
    • Examples:
      • We noticed you haven’t called your mother later.
      • Your email is using more stressed words this month than last month
      • Status indicators shows people where we are and what we’re doing
      • Big Ben Clock on twitter
    • Conversations...
      • Efficient and fast? Or elegant and graceful?
      • For a long time, the answer was that interfaces should be efficient. But maybe elegant is the new efficient.
      • Politeness is something all people do, but not machines...
        • Don’t reject
        • Don’t interrupt
        • Say hello and goodbye
        • Use people’s names
        • Praise people
      • Example: spell checker that praises people for writing difficult words correctly, or writing an error free emails. Yes, it takes longer, but people come away feeling more satisfied with their experience.
  • Personality
    • The system has a distinctive character, with recognizable cultures and habits
    • Interpersonal Circumplex
    • pastedGraphic_2.pdf
    • Example:
      • Max Train comes to a station. How to let people know which doors will be opening when the passengers could be facing forward or back: “The doors will be opening on my right”
    • Culture
    • Casting - Role they are in (copilot who is subservient vs. engineer)
    • Names - People associate meaning with names
  • Things to try
    • Use pronouns for your product: he, she
    • Give your application a name
    • Do more visceral prototypes
  • If we don't humanize our products, then our products will mechanize us.
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