This long zoom by Andy is right up my alley—a history of UX design that begins in 1880. It’s not often that you get to read something that includes Don Norman, Doug Engelbart, Lilian Gilbreth, and Vladimir Lenin. So good!
This is a rather beautiful piece of writing by Tom (especially the William Gibson bit at the end). This got me right in the feels:
Web 2.0 really, truly, is over. The public APIs, feeds to be consumed in a platform of your choice, services that had value beyond their own walls, mashups that merged content and services into new things… have all been replaced with heavyweight websites to ensure a consistent, single experience, no out-of-context content, and maximising the views of advertising. That’s it: back to single-serving websites for single-serving use cases.
A shame. A thing I had always loved about the internet was its juxtapositions, the way it supported so many use-cases all at once. At its heart, a fundamental one: it was a medium which you could both read and write to. From that flow others: it’s not only work and play that coexisted on it, but the real and the fictional; the useful and the useless; the human and the machine.
Between the utopian and dystopian, which vision of the future seems more likely to you? Which vision seems more true to how we currently live with technology, in the form of our smartphones and social media apps?
The title is pure clickbait, and the moral panic early in this article repeats the Toyota myth, but then it settles down into a fascinating examination of abstractions in programming. On the one hand, there’s the problem of the not enough abstraction: having to write in code is such a computer-centric way of building things. On the other hand, our world is filled with dangerously abstracted systems:
When your tires are flat, you look at your tires, they are flat. When your software is broken, you look at your software, you see nothing.
So that’s a big problem.
Bret Victor, John Resig and Margaret Hamilton are featured. Doug Engelbart and J.C.R. Licklider aren’t mentioned but their spirits loom large.
Yes, yes, yes!
A well-reasoned and excellently hyperlinked piece from Timo pushing back against the calls for “invisible” design.
To be fair, I’ve only ever heard the “no UI” argument in the context of “sometimes the best UI is no UI at all.”
Still, this is a great explanation of why “seamlessness” in design is by no means a desirable attribute.
This (free!) PDF looks like it could be a nice companion piece to Chris and Nathan’s recent book:
Human-computer interaction in science-fiction movies and television.
It’s a work in progress. You’ll notice a lot of placeholders where the images should be. That’s because the studios are demanding extortionate rates for screenshots.
Bill Buxton’s collection of input devices going back thirty years.