November 2007  
New Book: Designing Gestural Interfaces

I'm very pleased to announce that I'm writing another book: Designing Gestural Interfaces for O'Reilly, scheduled for publication in Fall 2008. The book is based in part on the Interactive Gestures wiki that I started several months ago with A Call to Arms.

What the book is about: Nintendo’s Wii and Apple’s iPhone have introduced the public to the power and grace of using gestures to control devices and interactive systems. But how exactly do you design for this new interaction paradigm? It isn’t like designing for traditional websites or software, but until now, there has been little written about these new interfaces, which will only grow in number and variety over the next few years.

Designing Gestural Interfaces will examine current patterns and trends in this new area, discussing emerging patterns of use, a taxonomy of human gestures, how to design and document interactive gestures, an overview of the technologies surrounding touchscreens and interactive environments, communicating to users how to use these new systems, and ways to prototype gestural interfaces.

Read more about the book and follow my progress on its site. Eventually there will be excerpts, movies and other images there from the book.

Originally posted on Thursday, November 29, 2007 | Link | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)


An Interaction Designer's Thanksgiving

It's American Thanksgiving today, and interaction designers have much to be thankful for.

Thank you, PARC's Bob Taylor, for realizing twenty years before the rest of the world did, that the computer is a communication device.

Thank you, Henry Dreyfuss and Raymond Lowey, for giving us design heroes to emulate.

Thank you, Larry Tesler, for cut and paste. Paste is still the #1 interaction design command and you don't realize how much you miss this dynamic duo until it is gone (see: iPhone).

Thank you, Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, for creating the TCP/IP protocol which makes so much of the internet magic possible.

Thank you, Nintendo, for the Wii, which showed everyone the joy that is gaming in real space with natural gestures.

Likewise, thank you Apple, for the willpower to design great products with tiny touchscreens. Desire is a powerful tool to wield.

Thank you, Adobe, Apple, Omnigraffle, and, yes, Microsoft, for tirelessly working to improve the tools we use to create our products.

Thank you, Intel and AMD, for constantly applying Moore's Law to make microprocessors faster. The future of interaction design rests on you.

Thank you, IxDA, for creating a home for people who do what we do.

Thank you to the developers and the visual and industrial designers who make our work the best it can be. We can't do it without you.

And thanks for other designers who inspire and delight me with your work and ideas.

Thanks, too, for the clients who fund and fuel our work and who bring their expertise to bear. As Tibor Kalman noted, the best clients are those who are smarter than you.

And, of course, thank you to the users, those who live with our products every day and suffer through our faults and failings as human designers. May they--and us all--have a wonderful day of Thanksgiving.

Originally posted on Thursday, November 22, 2007 | Link | Comments (3) | Trackback (0)


Missing Britpop

I realized yesterday it has been over 10 years since I heard my first Oasis song in a pub in Limerick. And no, it wasn't "Wonderwall." It was "She's Electric" and I sang along with the crowd even though I had never heard the song before. It was just that infectious. "Who is this?" I asked the guy from New Zealand I was standing beside. He looked at me like I was from another planet. "Oasis!" he shouted over the din. The next day, I was at a record store buying the album, along with albums from Pulp and Blur and Elastica. I was hooked. This was the antidote to the bad grunge and nu-metal crap that was taking over the airwaves in America.

Since then, Oasis has fallen on hard times and the Britpop movement they rode the crest of the wave on has long since crashed on the rocky shores of public tastes. Almost all of the Britpop bands are either disbanded or are just shadows of their former selves. And in America, the alternative radio stations seem to be flailing about, looking for something worthwhile to play or simply killing time until they turn into Classic Rock stations or something. It's no wonder a whole generation of listeners gave up on alternative music here in the US, instead turning to hip hop or simply listening to mainstream pop. There's nothing wrong with either of those, of course, but it has been a long time since I have heard a new alternative movement that arose like the British bands of 1992-1999.

I miss them.

And lest you think I'm just an old fart complaining about how the music of today is not as good as it used to be, there are signs of hope like distant stars out there, coming from the edges, where the best alternative music almost always comes from. Arcade Fire from Montreal. The Weakerthans from Winnipeg. Bishop Allen. The Fratellis. Arctic Monkeys. Bands that should, collectively, be dominating the alternative airways. But there is no movement, no banner to wrap around them, no overall marketing. No catchy name. So they live in the shadow of older musical movements, the same way the great bands of the late 1980s like The Pixies lived in the shadow of New Wave. I'm hopeful that, if my theory is true and this period is much like the late-1980s, our early 1990s are right around the corner, musically. The 20teens, with another Nirvana or Blur just waiting to break through.

In the meantime, I'm blowing the dust off my Britpop albums and playing them without shame. They've aged better than one would think. Pulp's Different Class is still one for the ages. Elastica's self-titled debut still throbs with sex and snarl. Blur's Parklife might be the "Sgt. Pepper's" of the 1990s. And, yes, even dear, squabbling, unibrowed Oasis is better than you remember. Be Here Now is a hell of an album, and if you wouldn't sing along with "She's Electric" in an Irish pub, well, you're no friend of mine.

Originally posted on Saturday, November 3, 2007 | Link | Comments (2) | Trackback (0)



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