Designing for Interaction: Rough Cuts Version Available

I’m not sure why you would want this, but if you simply can’t wait until August to start reading my book, you can now order and download the Rough Cuts (pdf) version. It’s not the whole book right now–I’m still writing it!–but the first two chapters, with the next two chapters (3 and 4) coming in about two weeks. When the book is finished, you get the whole book in PDF format. You can also order both the PDF version and the final print book together if you’d like. (Again: I’m not sure why you’d want to do that unless you are desperate to read all of Marc Rettig‘s interview (as you should be!) right now and save it for posterity).

There’s also some limited text snippets available free. Like this one on the overlapping disciplines of interaction design.

One of the other purposes of Rough Cuts editions is for readers to give feedback before the book is published, to correct errors and problems, and to make suggestions for improvement. If you are one of these brave souls ordering this edition, I would love to hear what you think of the book!

RIP Jane Jacobs

I worked in New York’s SoHo several times over the years. To get to my office from my apartment in Hoboken, I usually got off the Christopher Street PATH station and walked my favorite New York walk through my favorite part of Manhattan: the West Village. Hudson Street to Barrow Street, then the tiny, twee stretch of Cherry Lane to Bedford Street, and down Barrow Street, near old speakeasys and Edna St. Vincent Mallay’s house.

Thank you, Jane Jacobs, for fighting so that I could see it.

How to Teach Interaction Design

Through Jeff, I found an old post of Chad’s that had an amazing comment from one of our classmates, Maggie Breslin. Since she inexplicably doesn’t have a blog and her comment is pretty buried, I’m quoting it at length here. This is her advice to Chad about how to teach interaction design:

Chad! Did you learn nothing in your time here in Pittsburgh? He wants to be an interaction designer and you gave him some articles from Cooper and uiweb?

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

You tell him I said to take a long unstructured walk around his city. Talk to strangers. Take pictures. Visit at least one museum. Pretend like he’s from somewhere else for an hour. Stop in a park to read Raymond Carver’s “What we talk about when we talk about love.” (outloud would be rad, but I leave that up to him.) Go into a music store, find two people who seem completely different from him and buy whatever they are buying. And then end his travels at your house where he’ll tell you the story of his day over a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin. The story should last as long as the bottle.

You listen to his story and then like Mr. Miyagi in “The Karate Kid” tell him all the things he already knows interaction design without even realizing it.

And to answer the question before you ask – why Bombay Sapphire Gin? Gin because it’s yummy. Bombay Sapphire because it’s beautiful. We’re still designers after all. 😉


MUNI: Unofficial Fight Club

Today is the 100th anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake here in San Francisco. Our public transportation system, MUNI, decided to celebrate by not collecting fares today. So, this being San Francisco, every mentally-ill, crack-addled, drunken, shoeless inebriate took advantage of this and was on MUNI today.

I had the pleasure of several of these citizens on my bus going home, including one who decided to go crazy right as I was getting off at my stop at Haight and Baker. After insulting and threatening several passengers, he got it started by punching an elderly man in the face, breaking the man’s glasses, then trying to steal his bag. Several passengers and I proceeded to literally kick him off the bus, down the back stairwell and into the street. He then, since I was standing in the stairwell, tried to grab my laptop bag, pulling me off the bus.

I landed on the street and scraped my finger, but it didn’t notice it until someone later pointed it out. As an adult male, you occasionally wonder what you will do if you ever find yourself in these sorts of situations, facing someone coming at you, fists cocked and out of their mind. I now know how I’m likely to respond. Like an idiot:

Despite taking a few boxing lessons about five years ago, I haven’t been in a fight since like sixth grade. But I got up quickly, made my own hands into fists and swung them at him, aiming at his face. I missed. Somewhere, my boxing trainer is very disappointed in me. The drunk fighter took a swing at me and missed. “Come on motherfucker, I will kick the shit out of you, motherfucker!” I heard myself yelling. He was screaming something equally threatening back at me, but I can’t remember what it was. Passengers were calling out behind me on the bus. I picked up my laptop bag from the street and put it next to a fire hydrant and from that position stupidly resumed taunting my opponent, who eventually shuffled down the side street.

After that, the incident dissolved into taking care of the poor guy who had been punched, his nose bleeding a little. The police eventually showed up (the station is all of three blocks from the scene) and a little later an ambulance arrived. The crazy/drunk assailant walked away and, to my knowledge, wasn’t apprehended, even though he lingered around for at least ten minutes after the fight, watching from half a block away.

I’d spent the day quietly at work in front of my computer designing and thinking and listening to music. But you never know what can happen during the course of a day: an earthquake, a fistfight, whathaveyou. Just another day in San Francisco.

Studio 60: Setting My TiVo Now

How much am I looking forward to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip? Let’s just say that not since the second episode of Twin Peaks have I anticipated a TV show more. And apparently, I’m not alone.

The influence of Studio 60 creator Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, Sports Night) is all over TV these days. From the rat-a-tat-tat dialog on Gilmore Girls to the political interplay on the better episodes of Battlestar Galactica to some of the wordless musical moments of Lost. As good as all these shows are, I’ve missed Sorkin’s particular voice. Sports Night is still one of the best shows ever to see the light of day, however briefly.

This cast looks to be just as crackerjack as some of the earlier shows: Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, D.L. Hughley, Judd Hirsch, as well as Sorkin alumni like Bradley Whitford.

I simply can’t wait. I’m making room on my Tivo now.

Review: Everyware

It will be hard for any interaction designer to read Adam Greenfield‘s Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing without feeling like the work we’re doing now is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

A combination call-to-arms, overview, and prophecy, Everyware is a frightening, but engaging, read. Several times throughout the book, I simply wanted to shut its covers, as though that alone would stop its predictions and reportage from coming or being true (smart toilets!). But, as Greenfield lays out with a pretty convincing case, ubicomp is coming whether we want it to or not, and designers, engineers, and politicians simply can’t ignore it. It will be too powerful and too potentially invasive. Its consequences are too great.

A number of books lately, including this one and Shaping Things, have presented a remarkable view of the near future, a near future that we are going to have to help shape. I hope we’re ready, although I know we’re not.

Highly recommended.

Redesign Reorientation

An observed phenomenon: when a product or service does a major redesign, long-time users will freak out. But if the design is better than the previous one, they will eventually get over it. I’ve watched it happen recently with the New York Times redesign.

I’m calling this phenomenon redesign reorientation.

More Designing for Interaction Interview Excerpts

I’ve posted more interview excerpts from Designing for Interaction recently, namely