How new technology transforms the way
we create and communicate
I N T E R A C T I V E D E S I G N F O R U M
Issue 12 | June 2000
Reviewed & recommended:
The Interactive Book by Celia Pearce
Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen
Other books that explore the nature of computer-based media (reviewed at Amazon.com):
on the Holodeck by Janet Horowitz- Murray
as Theatre by Brenda Laurel
In association with
So says Steven Johnson in a book that's about 180 degrees away from Jakob Nielsen's Designing Web Usability. Yet I think we need to take both of them seriously.
For anyone creating interactive media, it's tough to stop struggling for a path through the trees of ever-changing software, inconsistent browsers, clueless clients and constant deadlines to look at the forest. Taking the advice of a wily local who knows the territory, like Nielsen, is smart.
Sometimes, though, we need to look out toward the horizon. We're looking, in this case, for the possibilities of computer-based interactive media. If you want a glimpse of where we might be going,
Steven Johnson is a good guide. He's knowledgable (co-founder and editor of Feed.com) and well-read (he quotes Charles Dickens as often as Marshall McLuhan). His writing is clear and understandable, something that can't be said for many similar books on technology and culture.
Meanwhile, back down among the trees we're not alone:
But our guide sees something ahead:
The idea of interface as art form is tremendously exciting, yet promises to make our jobs as designers even tougher. We have to balance the "traditional" goals of clarity and usability with a desire to strike out in new directions, to find new paths through the forest. Johnson points out the difficulty:
Interface Culture doesn't pretend to forsee where this evolution as art form will lead. It simply traces the path we've taken to get to where we are now and points to big changes ahead. It does us all a great favor by reminding us to keep looking for a new way.