Sunday, February 12, 2006

Marc Rettig on The History (and Future) of Interaction Design

An interview with Marc Rettig ...

"When does the history of interaction design begin?

I can think of an answer, but if you don’t mind I’ll sneak up on that answer by first offering some definitions.

If “design” means “applying the design process” — start by understanding the problem space, attempt to create a satisfactory solution, put an embodiment of that solution into the context of use, then iterate, refining your understanding by seeing each version of your imperfect solution in use…

If “interaction” means something like “conversation” —the back and forth of signals and symbols between people and an object capable of holding up its end of that conversation, or between people through such an object…

If “history” means someone wrote about it…

…Then here in this room without doing more research I’ll pick the work at Xerox PARC on the Star interface as a very early example of self-conscious interaction design, the publication of which influenced others to begin working in a similar way. As just one example, the idea of associating a program with a picture was born there. We call them icons, and forget what a breakthrough connection between interface element and underlying meaning that once was. That was the early-to-mid 1970s, and the Star papers are still great reading. There’s probably an argument to have about their process versus the one I just described, but given the range of “processes” in practice today I’d say that’s a nit."   continued ...   (Via Designing for Interaction)


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