All posts tagged literature review

  • Saffer | Microinteractions

    Literature review // Saffer, Dan. Microinteractions. Beijing: O’Reilly, 2013.

    What is the author’s main argument?

    Saffer describes microinteractions and explains what they can do for interactions (and how to implement them). He does this groups such as: triggers, rules, feedback, and loops & modes. His argument seems to be that implementing thoughtful micro interactions will create a better macro experience for users. He’s asking designers to be aware and implement them in their own work. Often I found that it pushed the design from the “least amount of work necessary” to the surprising and delightful.

    One “Little big details” I found was that the Vimeo 404 page title changes from Vimeo to….

    Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.24.18 PM

    These are the examples he’s more concerned with in his book (or at least that he takes more delight in). He explores how these small details of user experience enhance the overall product. And, perhaps, by thinking about these micro experiences we can create better big experiences because they tie into the system as a whole. They require careful planning on when and where they occur and to do this we must look at the larger system.

    The most interesting section I found was the section on feedback, which is something I think is unique to interaction design compared to other mediums like writing. Now that I’m considering it though, I guess tangible artifacts like…even scissors or something give you feedback when you interact with it. When you pick it up you you know it’s weight. when you open and close it you sense how smooth the movement is…food for thought.

    How is this relevant?

    It was important to get a list of additional types of interactions from Saffer. His section on feedback (page 90) was especially interesting to me as a list of when they should occur and why. He talks about how these stylistic details create and identity of the company/interface creator which I also thought was interesting.


    Sidenote: Our entire class has been thoroughly entertained by Saffer’s deep disappointment in our educations, expressed over Twitter. 

  • Lakoff & Johnson | Metaphors we live by

    Literature Review //  Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson (2003) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


    This was a really delightful reading we did that argued that we really understand our world in terms of metaphors. Lakoff & Johnson explain that these are different from the metaphors we’re used to thinking that serve a more artist purpose, but they actually do work and influence our understanding of the world. Lakoff & Johnson are expanding metaphor away from merely language to be descriptive, but talking about how these metaphors frame our thought and our thinking.

    “The concepts that govern our thought are not just matters of the intellect. They also govern our everyday functioning, down to the most mundane details. Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to people. Our conceptual system thus place a central role in defining our everyday realities.”

    Lovely, right? He’s arguing that, because talk about and frame something like argument is war, we perform arguments as if they’re war. We talk about arguments as if they are a battle that can be won or lost. We recognize arguments as war like. Compared to, for example, a culture that uses a dance metaphor for arguing that implies collaboration and turn taking. We might not even recognize this activity was an argument because it doesn’t have the qualities we associate with war. It’s unconscious but persistent. This is called a structural metaphor.

    Orientational metaphors deal with direction. For instance, we have this idea that up means good/happy and down means bad/unhappy.

    Ontological metaphors describe a situation where we have made someone and entity and can now refer to and categorize them by that entity. The two types are metonymy (when one things stands in place for another) and synecdoche (where a part stands in for the whole to put emphasis on certain qualities). This also helps us quantify them as things that can be discretely bounded. Examples are (26-27):

    • Referring: “working towards peace”
    • Quantifying: “a lot of patience”
    • Identifying Aspects: “pace of modern life”
    • Setting goals and motivating actions:  “find true happiness”

    Container metaphors: can bound and area that does not such clear boundaries or does not bound at all. “Are you in the race?” This lets them be quantified as an amount of substance that might not actually exist.

    Metaphors have the power to highlight and hide things of the speakers choosing. Michael Reddy calls this a “conduit metaphor” and structures such rhetoric this way (pg 10):

    • Ideas (or meanings) are objects
    • Linguistic expressions are containers
    • Communication is sending  

    Lakoff & Johnson still emphasize context and speaker in order for a metaphor to be successfully performed and understood.

    Towards the end of his paper he argues from a greater collaboration from those who are objectionists and subjectivenists. He offers a third option which he calls “experientialist synthesis.” He feels that metaphor best combines reason and imagination (193). “Reason, at the very least, involves categorization, entailment, and inference. Imagination, in one of its many aspects, involves seeing one kind of thing in terms of another kind of thing–what we have called metaphorical though. Metaphor is thus imaginative rationality” (193). 

    Why I think this is relevant: 

    I was excited about this paper when I first read it was such a good marriage of language, thought, and our interactions with the world. I think about how much design might be influenced by these metaphors. Or, alternative, how much design is pushing for new metaphors where they might not have exist. I think about the infinity screens where you’re pulling down from the top (to refresh) and the information pours down. Once you get to the bottom, you can click to load older posts. Top means new, bottom means old. Does it stem from top means good? Have we created something new in our minds now? What does swiping left and right mean to us now? Naturally, it doesn’t mean anything to me. That’s why I always have to figure out which one saves and which one deletes. Some go left and some go right. We don’t have a clear metaphor in our minds about how that works. But hopefully we can fix it.

    But then this made me think, are we getting in to the old skeuomorphism debate? I asked Cameron about this and he said wasn’t import. Haha. I found it fascinating and really well written.

  • Urbanized | Gary Hustwit documentary

    Urbanized by Gary Hustwit

    What does a documentary about urbanization have to do with my thesis? I guess not much more than everything in the whole world is designed and new perspectives always add value to a thesis on design. And an incredible perspective it was, I really like Hustwit documentaries in general.

    The landscape urban designers work with is a different kind of complex that we deal with on a digital landscape. One of my favorite things that he brought up was the shift from urban designers committing top-level designers (designing from above and forcing designs on people, like Brasília, Brazilla and Robert Moses for NYC) to designs/designers who reflect the needs of the people because they live on the ground and understand the community dynamics. The understand what things need to be in place to help a community thrive where people feel really connected to each other and have the luxury of living more sustainably because it’s easier. For instance, everything’s within walking distance so they won’t have to drive everywhere.

    They obviously reflects the kinds of things that designers need to consider when they’re designing for users. To work from the ground up and really understand the needs of the people while at the same time pushing them towards productive behavior.

    Also, I just wanted to watch that movie. Highly recommend.

  • Simon | The Science of the Artificial (Chpt 5)

    Literature Review // Simon, Herbert A. “The Science of Design: Creating the Artificial.” The Sciences of the Artificial. 3rd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1996. 111-36. Print.

    What was the author arguing?

    Simon is talking about the science of design and in that, what that motivations and outcomes of design are. Here he makes his famous quote: “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” He is very concerned about the lack of design education in schools because of this unique approach, they’re not thinking about problems like designers do. SImon believes that even if these scientists never become expert designers (and visa versa) at least they will be able to have mutually beneficial conversations that are creative exchanges.

    Part of the design process doesn’t always find the optimal solution but satisfactory ones because of constraints. We would have to find all the of the solutions in order to know whether one is the best or not and so its much more about the design process.

    Why is this relevant? 

    This was the other half of the Krippendorf article discussed before. Again, not that relevant I explicitly, but it’s important to see the common language that’s being using by design now.

  • Mallon & Webb | “Structure, causality, visibility, and interaction: propositions for evaluating engagement in narrative multimedia”

    Literature review // Mallon, Bride & Webb, Brian (2000). “Structure, causality, visibility, and interaction: propositions for evaluating engagement in narrative multimedia” Int. J. Human-Computer Studies. 


    What was the author arguing?

    Mallon & Webb was looking to create criteria for evaluating the experiential impact of design. In looking at this through narrative computer games, the authors were gauging user experience. There focus was capturing the effect of the narrative (broadly defined) in these experiences because they believed “each microunit has some significance at some level for the global purpose, thus creating unity and meaning.” In other words, the nuances of the narratives greatly affect the overall experience (not surprising :) ). One of their significant conclusions was that interaction and story telling seem to have an inverse relationship to one another: interactivity is essential to multimedia but it also disrupts the sequences of an author’s control of events (p 283). And from their research they found that participants obviously wanted to feel like they were making progress and part of that was feeling like they had control of the future.

    Why is this relevant?

    I thought this was relevant to my thesis in that it was increasing the literacy of this interactive media. The authors explicitly state: “Narrative was the “suggested lens for evaluating the experiential impact of a product.” It was an example of researching the way interactivity could be measured as a narrative and what the qualities of a positive interaction are for these games at least.

  • Krippendorf | Design Research, an oxymoron?

    Literature review// Krippendorf, Klaus (2007). “Design Research, an Oxymoron” from Design Research Now. 


    What was the author arguing? 

    Krippendorf was explaining how the design research (the design process) is fundamentally different from scientific research. It’s goals, process, and intention are different. One of his main points was that design is created for a desired future (as Herbert Simon states), where as scientific research looks to observe the present. This different goal has a waterfall affect on the design research process (some, not all of his points):

    • Design puts a user/stakeholder at the center of its mission since it’s creating a preferred future for individuals. Design is social.
    • Designers focus on what is variable and what can change, not what has been varied. Because of this, designers work on innovation and possibilities more than scientists might.

    Krippendorf also expands upon Herbert Simon’s famous statement that designers goal is “changing existing situations into preferred ones,” say that this goal is only won part of the three motivation categories of a designer: challenge, opportunities, and possibilities of introducing variation.

    challenges…troublesome conditions/problems that don’t have a solution (wicked problems). This supports Krippendorf’s argument that designers are more comfortable with unstructured problems. He claims that Simon’s problem solving would be here.

    opportunities…not seen by others to do something to improve others’ lives.

    possibilities of introducing variations...perhaps for the sake of doing something different. Generally open to exploring something that hasn’t been considered by others before.

    Why is this relevant? 

    Perhaps less relevant to my actual thesis topic, but I thought it was a really interesting article in that, while making comparisons to both scientists and Herbert Simon, I got to read about how the motivations and philosophies behind design. It’s important to consider the motivations behind a design author’s actions to their user/reader since micro interactions is uniquely constantly interacting with a participant. Suguru mentioned that I would have to decide who I’m focusing on (designer, user, or both) and Krippendorf makes a strong and repetitive case for remembering stakeholders.