hi scott & all,
thanks a ton for your detailed assessment. the first time you look at
anything of mine its not very intuitive, but in this case it *is* very
simple. i think a few bits of pop up instruction will go a long way
(which i fully plan to implement). regarding your more specific points,
i don't think the first time i looked at any scroll bar, i intuitively
knew what it did. but once i tried it it became quite obvious. i'd like
to suggest we are at the point of computing sophistication where ugly
little up and down arrows can be dispensed with, and seeing a list with
a gizmo next to it is all it takes to say "scroll"
the discussions we've had about this topic in general have always lead
me to believe that no interface is intuitive, only similar to past
interfaces, or in the worst cases, simply habitual. i also think that a
good interface does not need to be intuitive, it needs to be easy to
master, and effective in its operation. that is not necessarily the
definition of intuitive. i also believe the only way to create new
interfaces that do more than the existing paradigms, is to simply not
worry about whether grandma and little billy can use it. i guess thats
why i'll never be a web designer. but seriously, the only way to make
more effective interfaces is to demand a bit more of the user. and i
think this really comes down to habit. we are used to seeing a scroll
bar that has arrows, thumb boxes, heavy raised boarders, all this crap
that takes up space and perhaps makes it more confusing for grandma and
little billy. if it is assumed that everything in an interface has a
purpose, two dots in a rectangle next to a list seems obvious enough. a
quick investigation and their purpose is revealed. which is of course
part of the fun, and this is of course, not an online realtime stock
to address your comments on selection, i'm still playing with things.
however, i quite like the sequence of events for selecting the four
objects. the red line connects to the red dot, which also highlights
it's neighboring text entry in the list. to add that object, clicking on
the text entry OR clicking on one of the four boxes adds that entry.
clicking on a different entry adjusts the list to it, and it appears in
the selection box. so it becomes quite quick to set all four image boxes
to the same object, which one might actually want to do, or two of one
and two of another. i think the mechanism, though perhaps not
"intuitive" is highly effective for making the selection. a few little
tweaks and drill-downs and it will super effective. btw the problem with
*automatically* selecting the highlighted list entry into the image box
is the network lag it takes to load it, and also the fact that my
unfiltered database list has lots of entries where there are no images.
however your points are well taken and i'll likely incorporate some of
their concerns into the interface. keep in mind though that prolly 90%
of first time users will opt for a default gene and never use the
creation interface, so my primary concern will be to make it fast and
effective to use once you know the (few) oddball mechanisms.
as far as the 3d rendering is concerned, there is no room for the
selection mechanism on this page because there will be a whole other
interface that the rendering is only a part of. if it had consisted of
only these two interfaces, they would have been on the same page. so in
the final version, there will be an interface of simmilar look and feel
to the selection interface, wraped around the 3d rendering. also the 3d
rendering is in no way the final appearance of the sequences, it right
now functions only as a proof of function - it can accept user selection
of artbase objects into a 3d rendering of their thumbnails. also the
selection screen is not really part of the interface per se. the real
interface will be inside and around the rendering where connections are
made between genes, and will be fully annotated. btw, the gene you
created is the first one that appears in the rendering, and all the
others spiral out from there. in the final interface, your gene will
act something like a crosshair in the center of the screen, and the
other genes will be stacked and orbited in the scene according to their
similarity with your gene.
thanks again for your detailed evaluation, it will really help when i'm
faced with decisions where i'd prefer to say "oh, fuck the user." i
look forward to your comments in the future.
> This is a really interesting project and I have lots of questions. You seem
> to be taking on the challenge of creating a better visualization scheme for
> associative data by finding alternative metaphors for their organization,
> display and interconnectedness. Much of my criticism and commentary below
> are informed by my experience dealing with Thinkmap and more recently
> teaching interface design.
> I found the whole experience to be not very intuitive. This is not
> necessarily a problem. I know we have had discussions in the past about your
> interest in providing challenging gaming mechanisms and interaction designs.
> While I tend to agree with you on those, I find it important to provide a
> layered experience. Another reason I bring this up, is because the project
> is wavering between being a tool and an interface - it is two screens, the
> first, a user interface(tool) and second window is interface of
> artbase(visualization). I say this because in your explanation of the piece,
> it is clear to me that user participation is important to the project's
> success. Therefore legibility of the interface as a usable tool is important
> while legibility of the interface as visualization can rely on additional
> parameters - like those found in genetics(?).
> Below I will try to identify key aspects of the interface and interaction
> design that I found confusing.
> There seem to be 3 main modes of activity for the gene pool selection
> - Scrolling : physical metaphors and measure
> There are two different methods to scroll a list provided to the user - a
> blue dot and a red dot. The fact that they are even scroll bars is
> obfuscated by the lack of typical scroll bar conventions, up/down arrows or
> the physical metaphors of a button in a slot, track or delimited slide zone.
> You provide a box in which the dots reside, but it is unclear how they
> relate to that box in part because the box looks more to be a framing
> element, creating modules, common to the entire interface. Once users catch
> on that the dots are scroll bars, the interface responds well, the feedback
> is as expected. However, it is difficult to understand what proportion the
> red dot scrolls compared to the blue. For example, the blue allows users to
> jump every 20 names vs. the red scrolls within those 20. This is a nice
> feature but I think unusual and therefore needing more visual clarification
> of measurement.
> - Selecting - multiple clicking/highlighting options to designate choice
> It is very subtly implied(reading left to right) that the sequence of
> browsing is blue dot, red dot, click box to position, hit button. I found
> this sequence so subtle as to be invisible due to various other competing
> interactions. The red dot is both scrolling and indicating selection. There
> is a visual connection between the red dot and the placement box rather than
> a connection between the artbase item and the placement box. Having many
> items hot(clickable) makes it easy to get out of sequence. Non-linear
> selection is great, I am all for serendipity but it becomes very important
> for users to be able to track their current state. Therefore, I would
> disconnect the red dot from highlighting a selection and let the user click
> on the item to select it OR keep the connection and have the placement box,
> constantly updating as users scroll and then provide an obvious way to
> select the next placement box.
> - Producing - one big interface
> So, I have tried to make a distinction between what I think are currently
> confusing interface issues and their possible outcomes, one being the more
> typical usability-oriented and the other more serendipitous. My last comment
> about the interface is a general layout one. What if you placed the
> scrolling window at the top and the placement boxes and go button at the
> bottom? I would eliminate the extra readout list currently in the upper
> right corner as that information could easily be incorporated into the
> placement boxes. This adjustment would actually allow you to place the
> second window, "addgene.php" to the bottom of the interface, thereby making
> it one fluid experience. Right now, taking me to a second blank window, I
> forget my choices, and am left to drift through un-annotated field of
> thumbnails. Which ones are the ones I selected? How are the others being
> generated? Why in a circle? Can the user interface foreshadow some of there
> All that said, what I find exciting is the possibility for the 3d
> environment to be readily updateable because it is part of the same
> interface. This, for me, would be a great and fluid context breeder. By
> placing the thumbnail visualization back into a selection environment could
> allow you to highlight the existing structures at play in the curation and
> categorization of art works. It would also allow you to address Patrick's
> fine comment about wanting to search by numerous criteria beyond
> alpha-numeric listing. On the other hand, I have been considering the 3d
> environment as the 2nd experience. It is really the primary experience and
> therefore one could consider the user interface as a kind of heads-up
> display therefore making it all one fluid piece. Which makes me wrap-up by
> asking how does all this relate, if at all, to current methods of genetic
> visualization and sequencing? What does an additional dimension(2d to 3d)
> afford you? Ok, I'll stop...I apologize for being so long winded, but I am
> excited to see where you're going to take the project.
> Best regards,
> ps: I had no technical problems on my PC(w2000) / IE 5
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "John Klima" <firstname.lastname@example.org
> To: <email@example.com>;
> Cc: <firstname.lastname@example.org>;
"thing ist" <thingist@BBS.THING.NET
> Sent: Sunday, June 16, 2002 1:46 AM
> Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Context Breeder Mid-Project Report
> > heya all,
> > The Rhizome alt.interface mid-project report is online at
> > http://www.rhizome.org/Context_Breeder
with a link to the app as it
> > exists. The report is also included below for your convenience.
> > the original project proposal and description is at
> > http://www.cityarts.com/rhizome
if yer not familiar with it.
> > the current application url is:
> > http://www.rhizome.org/Context_Breeder/userface.htm
> > Give it a try, see if you can figure out the interface, pound on it and
> > create new genes. You create a gene by selecting four artbase objects.
> > users will eventual have the ability to accept an existing default gene
> > with no muss or fuss, and be able to find genes they previously created.
> > The creation interface is the most complex, so I managed it first. slide
> > the blue dot for big change, red dot for small, click around on things,
> > lemme know. will eventually add pop-up help, and loading status bars,
> > give it a few moments to load.
> > off to mexico with my honey for a few days, cya later in the week.
> > best,
> > j
> > Context Breeder
> > Mid-Project Report
> > 15 June 2002
> > The Context Breeder project is well along in its development cycle. By
> > using server-side php scripts to accept and return data with a Java 1
> > front end, the data backbone for Context Breeder is fully established.
> > Work on the front end continues, with significant milestones
> > accomplished including cross platform browser-based 3d rendering, and a
> > gene creation interface that populates the rendering with new genes
> > (give it a try http://www.rhizome.org/Context_Breeder/userface.htm
> > The 3d gene pool rendering displays sequences of four gif images,
> > representing four Artbase objects. Context Breeder has two such 3d
> > renderings that will be finalized as a single interface. The first
> > displays the sequences as a transparent stack, the second displays them
> > in orbits. By combining the stacks and orbits, the sequences will be
> > arranged by their similarity with each other.
> > The 3d rendering is populated by a java interface that allows the user
> > to create a sequence of four genes. Complete information about the
> > artbase objects in the scene will be visible below the 700 x 200 pixel
> > 3d rendering area. This is by no means the finished 3d rendering,
> > however it fully demonstrates the instant dynamic adding of gene
> > sequences to the pool, constituting the major functional hurdle for the
> > project.
> > Summary:
> > breakdown of code modules written thus far:
> > 1. php scripts retrieve and add genes to the artbase.
> > 2. a java interface accesses the database through the php scripts.
> > 3. a cross platform 3d rendering displays genes as .gifs in stacks.
> > 4. a cross platform 3d rendering displays genes as .gifs in orbits.
> > breakdown of tasks ahead:
> > 1. integrate the two 3d renderings based on gene similarity
> > 2. enable travel through the rendering.
> > 3. enable gene crossover and lifespan.
> > 4. beta feedback and debug.
> > + dirty.bomb$THpleted.uranium
> > -> Rhizome.org
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> > +
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> > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php3