Kanarinka on Mon, 29 Apr 2002 20:10:02 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] RE: RHIZOME_RAW: GENERATION FLASH: Usability/Interaction

hi folks,
I really like the focus on interaction here. I think that this is one of
the keys to understanding the medium that we are trafficking in. Let's
keep up the dialogue.

On the "ease of use" tip ::: a note

I think all too often people (artists, software programmers, audience,
users all included) confuse "usability" with "interaction". Usability
has to do with how accessible and "easy to use" your work is. Usability
answers questions like: Can it be viewed on multiple browsers,
platforms, etc.? Is it confusing in unintended ways? This is
"user-centered" thinking only in the sense that you are trying to make
sure that your user does not have unintended hardware/software/cognitive
problems accessing your work. To give an example -- If your work were a
building, usability would be like making sure that your doorways were
designed so that people fat and thin, wheelchairs and not, etc. could
all make it around inside. 

Designing for usability is important but designing for interaction is
much more interesting. 

Interaction design answers questions like "Why do users want to do
something with my work? How can users enter into a meaningful, engaging
performative space with this work? What is the incentive towards action
in this case?" To go back to the building metaphor  -- interaction in
that case would be - why do you want to visit the building in the first
place? what happens to you inside the building? what kind of experience
do you have inside the building? how are you changed after leaving the

interaction design poses questions and problems much larger and more
creatively charged than just "how can we make this thing user-friendly?"
the most effective net/software/digital/artronics art of this new age
will be able to answer these questions and solve these problems in
interesting, challenging, meaningful ways. 

[and ways that, by absolute necessity and contrary to what goes on most
of the time even now, incorporate thought about the "end-user" right at
the beginning of the creative process]

cheers, kanarinka


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-list@rhizome.org [mailto:owner-list@rhizome.org] On Behalf
Of napier
Sent: Monday, April 29, 2002 1:35 PM
To: John Klima
Cc: Lev Manovich; nettime-l@BBS.THING.NET; nettime@BBS.THING.NET;

At 12:22 PM 4/29/2002 -0400, John Klima wrote:

>when discussing artwork, soft or not, the focus is naturally on the
>appearance of the thing. its the first thing you encounter when you
>"see" it. it's how it looks that makes the first impression regardless
>of the function.

First impressions are surely based on the visual, but lasting
are based on the overall experience of the piece, the impact it has 
intellectually, the gut feel that it creates.  If we talk only about 
appearance we'll miss the point of most art of the past 50-100 years.

>the public expects "ease of use" as the most critical element in
>software interaction, ....
>.... but where in the
>museum catalogues and art reviews do those words appear? never.

Because the concept of "usage" does not exist in art prior to 
software.  The "use" of a painting is that you hang it and look at it.
much to talk about there.  Software doesn't have to be "easy" to 
use.  jodi's site is deliberately difficult to navigate, yet it can be 
navigated, and figuring out how to get around and where things are is
of the experience.  Also in mouse-responsive work like turux.org, the
motion drives what happens on screen, but not in an obvious or linear 
way.  The screen often responds surprisingly to the mouse motion, which
more interesting than a simple 1 to 1 mapping of mouse motion to graphic


>  how can
>one ever discuss interaction when not all people agree what is left and
>what is right? this is certainly an exageration of the problem, but it
>highlights the situation that not all users are equally capable of
>interaction. hell, some people are in wheelchairs and can't reach the

And some people are blind and can't look at visual art.  That doesn't
the discussion of visual aesthetics.

>  the primary element of software art
>still firmly resides in what is displayed on the screen, and second how
>it got there, and third, how a viewer interacts with it. however, i do
>firmly believe that the best work includes all three.

Right.  And given that we're talking about software art here, and we're
too handicapped to experience the art on all three levels, I think it's 
worth talking about all three.



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