Week 8

Chapter 10 – Blogs

I have to admit that I was not looking forward to this chapter. When I think of blogs the first image that comes to mind is a vacant teenager spewing the minutia of their everyday life out into the ether. It’s virtual pollution people. I see blogs doing to serious essay writing what chatting and texting did to the fine and lost art of conversation. However I actually enjoyed this chapter more than the the┬ásections about game design, which still seems like obsessive irrelevance, and especially the section on Digital Entrepreneurs which seemed to tout the invasion of big business mentality into independent shops, while big business attempts to co-opt the versatility and flexibility of the independents. Maybe I felt more of a connection because these folks are professional writers, and writing is my first love. Strange how the value of good clear writing keeps coming up. People are finally realizing that the ability to form a convincing and cohesive line of reasoning is being lost. Hopefully a renaissance in the written word will return with the new appreciation of unique and individually crafted work. Now if we can just get over this obsession with minimalistic and sloppy ‘art’.

Chapter 11 – Beyond the Screen

This chapter was certainly dominated by the usability question. No matter what media or system is designed, from a book to an MP3 player to a digitally enabled building facade, the central purpose seems the same. How can the user be drawn into the experience and how transparent will the interaction be? Whether playing a game or watching a movie I always enjoy the moment when the interface fades away and I’m interacting with the content. The point where you forget that you are using a joystick to control pixels on the screen, or looking at a view of the world through a screen. The interviewee who seemed to grasp the importance of this idea the most was Masamichi Udagawa. He understands that when a user steps up to an interface the only feature that they care about is the one that does what they came to do. If the user can’t figure out how to use the interface within a few seconds they will get bored and frustrated and walk away. All the bells and whistles in the world will not change the frustration level of the average user. This does not mean designing for the lowest common denominator. Udagawa also explained the importance of revealing complexity rather than bombarding the user with complications all at once. The more savvy user will find the important features while the tyro won’t need them. The best designer is one who can appeal to multiple levels of users.

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