Interacting with interaction design

Interaction design is largely about the meaning that people assign to things and events, and how people try to express meanings. So to learn from any tool, interactive or not, go watch people using it. You’ll hear them talk to the tool. You’ll see them assign all sorts of surprising interpretations to shapes, colors, positioning, dings, dents and behaviors. You’ll see them fall in love with a thing as it becomes elegantly worn. You’ll see them come to hate a thing and choose to ignore it, sell it, or even smash it. And I guarantee you won’t have to do much of this before you encounter someone who makes a mental mapping you would never dream possible. And you’ll learn from that.

Marc Rettig, quoted in Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices by Dan Saffer, chapter 1

Earlier this evening, I asked a question:

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/pubstrat/statuses/27451018627260416″]

It was prompted by reading the paragraph above and by reflecting that in my very limited dabblings in the literature, I am still finding it hard to find people who don’t slide immediately from interaction or service design to an assumption that we are solely or primarily in an online world. That rather splendid paragraph appears to make no such assumptio, but I suspect that will not prove to be the case for the book as a whole.

Metatextual interaction design note: In the old days when you wanted to quote a paragraph from a book, you put the book down and wrote or typed out the paragraph. In these new modern times, you read the book on kindle and… have to write or type out the paragraph. Such is progress.

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