Alan Cooper 访谈 4

huoji 2004-06-11 12:55:33
VI. Interaction Design - a discipline for the Information Age

DJA So is it the case that Technologies and their limitations are not well understood and people expect far too much from a technology that was never designed for the purpose?


AC You have to be careful here. I believe that in the Industrial Age we had technology. Technology had firm limits dictated by physics. Steel is a wonderful building material. It's so wonderful that I can build skyscrapers and bridges with it. But what you can't do is say, "Steel is so Wonderful that I'm going to build a bridge across Lake Michigan out of 500lbs of steel".


DJA Right! But you can do this with software. Or at least you can try?


AC You got it!

In the Information Age, in the Digital Age, the limitations are not imposed by the fundamental characteristics or the physics of our devices. We have computers that go plenty fast but if there is a limitation then you just buy a few hundred thousand more and make them work in parallel.

What we are limited by is our imagination. We built databases, and big companies like Oracle who build giant relational databases tell the world, this is how information is stored, this is how it is massaged and this is how it is retrieved.

This is like saying all bridges are 30 feet long and formed into a truss. Well in the physical world if all you had was wood then that is true.

A programmer comes at a problem from the point of view that there are only 3 numbers: 0, 1 and infinity. So a programmer says, well if I'm going to create a database, then I will create a technology that will support an infinite number of records. That's the way they think about construction. But what if you're building a name and address book to run on your Palm Pilot?

You will never have more than a couple of thousand entries. All that incredible efficiency, all that factoring out of common information and storing things in little fields, is really good when you have to have billions of records. A friend of mine designs data stores for companies like Wal-Mart and he deals with a billion records per day. He has issues like how do you normalize everything? How to make everything fail safe? Applying that technology to 5 or 6 hundred names in a Palm Pilot is inappropriate.

On the Other Hand, the designers say that it doesn't have to be a massive redundant, fail over system, but they still use the same basic model, of a database with fixed length fields, key searched. Why can't I logically group things? I can categorize things. I can say, here is a name that belongs in my list of business names, here's another which belongs in my list of personal names, but I have lots of names that need to be in both lists. I'm not allowed to do that because the Interaction Designer didn't think in terms of what Goals is the human going to try and accomplish. Instead they looked at the problem from the point of view of "What technology am I given".


DJA Right. And it may well be the case that the Interaction Designer was brought in at the end and told, "This is the data model, and this is the type of query it supports" and then there is not much that they can do.


AC The no.1 thing that you can do to create a better product is to bring the Interaction Designer in early.

What you'll find is that Visual Designers brought in too early will freak out. An HCI Professional brought in sufficiently early will freak out because they have nothing to do, nothing to measure. They don't know how to design software which actually solves problems.

A real Interaction Designer will rub their hands with glee and say, "Oh Boy! We have an opportunity to do something really good here"



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