This Charming Man…?

April 7, 2010

It is the year of the gesture device.

Filed under: ipad,Uncategorized — ihaventgotastitchtowear @ 4:08 pm
Tags: , ,

It really isn’t about the HP Slate or the iPad, what it is about is the connected gesture device. And that is far more important that the Mac/Windows standoff that we are starting to see bubbling in blogs, twitterspace, and the tech press.

The connected gesture device is going to change the way that we, the user, will interact with content. There are very serious implications for the way that we will experience the web. Content will become more tactile. We will see a return to the thing that we really enjoy doing – that that is flicking and page turning.

I love ‘Wired’ magazine, I loathe ‘Wired Website’. I love the magazine’s high quality production quality, on top of great journalism. Compared it to the website. The website has all that content but it is 2 dimensional, flat and unflickable. Now have a look at this video

The gesture device is going to go off this year and will, in all probability, become ubiquitous in 3 years. And you know what we aren’t going to be happy with the websites that we currently have. Gesture=page-turning. Usability will be related to how we interact with the device, and how we gesture. Content classification and hiearchy will have to be thought once again in terms of how I as a user want to interact with my device, as opposed to how I have to interact with the device. One classic example of that is organisation’s intranet. These sites are notorious ‘fail’.  What I mean is that they are fundamentally blocks upon blocks of content. Static, dull and yes important content. Usability is notoriously difficult for this stuff. Turf warfare runs amuck, what logically goes where is contested, and replicated. The process for finding somebody in the online guide is sometimes more time consuming that grabbing a paper staff directory and flicking to the name (if any organisation actually printed these anymore).

So are we ready? Not on your life. Let’s get ready to go back to what we really like doing. Flicking.

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4 Comments »

  1. Back in 1993 I wanted to do my BSc project on touch screen interfaces and I wanted to do an ergonomics project on the readability differences between screens and paper when presented in the same planes. So ultimately I have to agree with you.

    Touch screens, for reading and basic interaction, are just a no-brainer. Gestures are powerful.

    That said, we need to be wary about people taking “page turning” to heart. Yes, if you want to replicate how a print magazine/book works you want something like a page flick gesture. At the moment, when we’re used to turning physical pages, there’s some sense in that but I wonder if we’ll lock ourselves into that form of gesture just because it relates to a part of the physical world? Many (most?) online magazine and newspaper websites fail because they lose the way that we scan the physical media. Some of that is because there simply isn’t the screen real estate, and in part that’s due to the screen typically being in the wrong orientation.

    Defining the information architecture to present such sites (and others) on a variety of interfaces – from plain browsers on widescreen desktop monitors to portrait “small” handheld devices – is a complex and challenging but ultimately rewarding task. Of course, the power of an electronic device is that the content can be presented differently for each reader so I hope we’ll end up with a world where an aggregator can take this “layout” metadata and create a pleasing and engaging interface for content across a variety of publishers.

    Interestingly that sounds rather a lot like Ted Nelson’s Xanadu.

    Comment by Ian Cooper — April 7, 2010 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

    • Hmmmm, I think I can live with Xanadu…but in seriousness yes. But it is about the relationship between the human and the device. And we are a species of flickers. I’d like my relationship between my physical Guardian (which I can’t get) to be similar to my online Guardian (which I cannot read). My readability of such media isn’t dictated by such IA rules as if I were trying to nav around a corporate website…

      Comment by ihaventgotastitchtowear — April 7, 2010 @ 10:30 pm | Reply

  2. As for intranets typically “failing” I suspect that’s more likely due to the very restricted development budgets they often receive. We gloss our public facing websites and try to make them as usable as possible – in part using marketing money – because we want to keep the users on our sites using our content/brand.

    Keeping staff on our intranet isn’t really a problem we have to fix … they’re pretty much forced to use it. Of course, some people actually understand that making such sites easy to use – even pleasant to use – is a huge advantage to the organisation. But until the budget holders understand that their ROI will be higher if they make their intranets “nice” the money simply won’t go there. And developing decent information architecture (for gesture based devices) isn’t going to be cheap, I suspect.

    Comment by Ian Cooper — April 7, 2010 @ 6:43 pm | Reply

    • Not for the first time, Ian, I agree with you entirely.

      Comment by ihaventgotastitchtowear — April 7, 2010 @ 10:31 pm | Reply


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