Glacial Erratics

outboard info design goals

March 08, 2005

From a memorable conversation with Sunir, so I'm memorializing it here:    (PFJ)

Norman "feels" (rubs me funny) as if he thinks of learning as a process that is finite. That filling the cache should be quick and complete, and that the cache should be internal.    (PFK)

A well groomed wiki is an external cache, personally and organizationally.    (PFL)

One way to optimize understanding of the universe is not to cache the understanding of particular bits, but instead to cache references to the (internal or external) compressed or summarized learning event. Or, in other words, to communicate effectively it makes sense to make signs, symbols, words, language that point to concepts at increasingly larger levels of granularity (while never forgetting the importance of small pieces of lego).    (PFM)

By shoving some of the cached learning out to externalities there's more room for compare and contrast and new sign discovery.    (PFN)

That's very similar to how you describe Norman: speed up access. And that's nice, but it's not how Norman writes. Norman writes with too weak a dissatisfaction with the state of the world and too mundane a criticism of how people think and create. I guess that's why I don't like him: he presents little hope for large change. His most memorable discussions are about the burners on a stove. There's just so much more fun that can be had with discussion of interaction.    (PFO)

I don't believe in outboard brains, and I have no expectation that the AI dream will ever succeed, but I do know that if I have memories of handles to larger pieces that exist elsewhere, I can keep the allegories in motion in my head and know a _lot_ of stuff with a fairly high degree of confidence without needing to fully know it.    (PFP)

To bring this around to somewhere that might relate to what you're after: I've found that in order for outboard processing to work there's several design and process guidelines that have to be reached. Here are some: interaction must be highly responsive, noise in the interface must be minimized, structural mechanics and metaphors in content need to be consisent, names must have value, it must be there when you want it, when there is a shared brain its context is shared as well (e.g when some members of the company have a discussion about design it it is done in an archivable fashion).    (PFQ)


On March 12, 2005 07:01 PM Adina Levin said:

Perhaps related to Clay Shirky's distinction between radial and cartesian thinking: Norman is radial.    (PFU)

What I loved about Norman when I first read it is how he popularized a language for thinking about design for function. For example, his small examples about doors that require a "push" sign because they have a handle that looks like it should be "pulled."    (PFV)

In a world of mass manufacturing, design became a specialization. It's esthetics were not part of ordinary education.    (PFW)

With the web, functional design became something that many more people do. So it was very handy to be presented with esthetic, and an esthetic language.    (PFX)

Once you have the language, you can say different things with it.    (PFY)