Monday, April 09, 2007

More Science Fiction User Interface

Last night, at the end of a potluck, I had something of a disheartening discussion with a guy who works, to the best of my knowledge, as a sound/voice recognition engineer. He has a lot of involvement in the tech/user interface world. When I described the user interface in my novel, he said that it sounded unrealistic for the future but provided some constructive tips, like have the characters complain about the bad user interface (which I actually have one character kind of do).

Anyway, the following link provides me with a little bolstering for the current interface I utilize in my novel:

Usability in the Movies --
Top 10 Bloopers (Jakob Nielsen's

Courtesy of BoingBoing.

Even better, it's copyright 2006, much more recent than the survey on computer interfaces I linked to the other day.

Last night on the way home from the potluck, I mulled over the conversation I had with the voice/sound recognition guy and came up with a similar rebuke as mentioned in the link: "Designing good input devices is a tricky human factors problem, and you can't substitute devices willy-nilly and retain the same performance. A foot pedal, for example, is not as good as a mouse for text editing, because you can't move your legs as accurately as your hands and fingers."

Basically, in the long run, as much as it sounds cool to have a virtual environment in which to interact with computers and such, the Windows, MacOS, Linux, UNIX an the Web environments probably work best (until someone really does come up with an amazing innovation) when it comes to the types of stuff we do with computers (like Word Processing, e-mailing each other, buying products, etc. etc.). And probably, similarly on another level, a handheld book probably does a better job than reading text on a monitor, a laptop or even some kind of tablet PC. Flipping a page really proves more convenient then scrolling on a screen or pushing a button to reach the next page.

I like it, I like it. . .until someone does really come out with some kind of paradigm breaking innovation for human-computer interface in regards to files and such that works easier than the ones that we have now. Then I will have to gnash my teeth and curse quite a bit.

1 comment:

Dawn said...

Actually, he's a computer science professor at Northwestern:

His work revolves around machine learning and human/computer interaction, particularly as they relate to music.