Info

Tech entrepreneur, executive, and investor; father of eight children; Googler.

I’m here to give somewhat of an exploratory talk–these are brand-new ideas for me (hopefully for you as well). I want you to help me think through some of the issues I’m going to foist on you. Hopefully, it’s a little provocative and I want it to be collaborative. But I don’t want to get into an argument, especially between yourselves.

[Chris shows a video of two guys talking in a car. They are arguing about some banal point in a conversation, and then they suddenly get in a car wreck.] The punchline, which he cut out, was “Safe Happens” [it related to the conversation between the two guys]. This is a dramatic feature that grabs you [the video really did grab the audience with the suddenness of the wreck].

Dramatic Features in Interaction Design

[Slide of the BlackBerry.]

This is the BlackBerry, introduced the email phone. Very usable, very great device.

[Slide of the iPhone. Shows a movie of the iPhone being used by someone.]

How many people smiled when you first used Google Maps on the iPhone? [1/2 – 1/3 of the group]. If you go to an Apple Store, people aren’t neutral when they use the iPhone. They’re smiling! They’re enjoying it! There’s something different than, “Hey, this is easy to use.”

Drama — an exciting, emotional or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances.

Drama — a composition intended to exhibit a picture of human life tending toward some striking result.

The key principle here is that it resonates with people. You don’t need to explain it to them. It makes sense, it’s natural, and somehow representative of everyday life.

[Showing a video of Bill Moggriges Interaction Design video from the 80s–before personal computers ever existed. Pretty wild how far in advance Bill M. was thinking. The video is showing sketches of a system organized in a book and a video system mocking up a prototype for study. The end of the video talks about how moving images will become normal elements of the computer world thanks to future technologies like CDs, and how you will create interactions in the future that rival TV and movies and things.]

Pretty interesting to see that 20-25 years ago. [Its predictions were dead on.]

CEO of Samsung said: “Why is the iPhone so popular? We have phones with those functions…” I said, “Well, it’s because of how those functions are implemented.” Apple’s working at a very advanced stage of interaction design that I believe involves drama.

Stages of Interaction Design:
– function: does it work?
– usability: can people use it?
– aesthetics: is it nice?
– drama: is it meaningful?

Right now, we talk more about usability than anything else in this community, but should we be talking more about drama? Is this why Apple is pulling away from some of the other players?

[Slide of Pixar’s The Incredibles]

I spend a lot of time looking behind the scene behind so-called creative industries. They do things in a completely different way than business create things. He talked about how some people in “serious” industries dismiss the creative industries and their way of doing business, even though they have extremely successful businesses.

By looking at Pixar, they don’t have all the email and other business stuff we do, they all just work on the movie for like 6 years, just working with people. And each time they do this, they’re building a billion-dollar business. And they’ve done this 8 out of 8 times.

I try to get companies to work more like Pixar and less like big business.

[He shows a slide of Brad Bird of Pixar working with storyboards, etc.] These people spend years working with storyboards before they even start animating. They have arguments and enjoy them, something I think we’ve lost.

I advocate that we spend as much time on the creative / tangible as we do on the analytical / verbal (i.e., doing something versus studies, research, etc.) We forget what people care about and what people value. Drama–this notion of resonating with people–is something Pixar knows how to do and something we ought to consider doing.

[A slide of a Google App as an example of bad design.]

[A video of the wiggling iPhone icons and someone explaining how it works.]

What do you see there? What’s going on? They’re using humor with wiggling.

Audience: “It looks like they’re restless; they want you to move them.” “It’s intuitive; it behaves how you expect it to.” “The wiggling state makes it feel like it’s not a permanent state.” “It’s also reminiscent of those puzzles you had when you were a child.” “The wiggle is unexpected and you get some sort of pleasure out of that.” “It’s not obvious but memorable. It makes the device alive.”

This is not simple animation of “I’m going to animate what’s going on.” There’s something else going on. The interaction is in some sense choreographed.

Choreography is the art of planning movements and steps. Emphasis on *planning*.

Arranging home screen
– new state – wiggling (i.e., we would have said mode many years ago, or last week at some companies)
– moving
– getting out of the way
– extra space
– flicking

[Shows slide with a technical breakdown, and then another slide: WIGGLING and FLICKING]

State and transition is embodied in behavior of elements.

Identify dramatic aspects of the following sequence: [shows a clip from WALL-E where we runs over the pet cockroach and then tells him to go back inside]

What are some of the dramatic elements?

Audience:
– “Eyes focus the emotion.”
– “Rolling over the bug”
– “Conflicting emotions: fear of having killed the bug, then happiness” (is the website going to accept my registration? YAY!)
– “Soundtrack with the Brazil riff is great; every program should have that.”
– “Without violating the mechanics of the devices, they still make them human.”

Dimensions of drama:
– context or staging
– character (icons on Apple’s phone wiggle and you start to refer to them as “they”)
– goal or purpose (protagonist is always trying to make something happen)
– action/reaction/behavior
– emotion (humor/irony/surprise/fear/joy/relief)
– what happens in real world

[Chris talked about how traditionally we refer to actions on elements in states of a system and how we can replace that with actions on characters with behaviors in the system, where a “goal” is replaced with a “story” and “result” is replaced with “meaningfulness”.]

How should one write requirements if we start doing things this way? I was recently meeting with a software company that has a hard time going through this process of identifying the requirements and then building system. Companies like Pixar don’t do that; they shape the real thing as they determine the requirements.

Story boarding is a way of working that you should look into. How many people have done this? [Nearly half the room raised their hands.] In storyboarding you’re balancing many different methods at once. It’s a good technique for starting to do this.

[Showed a five minute clip of storyboarding from Disc 2 of Pixar.]

These artists at Pixar are the best in the world. They argue over and over again to improve it, and we’ve lost that, the ability for people to be critical in the workplace. We need that.

Does any of that apply to Interaction Design?

Audience: “They had a room full of experts. We have a room full of…” [Laughter.]

Pixar respects all disciplines! Even marketing people. Let feedback come! You don’t need to respond to it. If a marketer says, “I think it should be blue” say, “Yes thank you, why do you think it should be blue? Great.” There’s no expectation that you’re actually going to act on their feedback. Go make it better, come back and show them. They don’t have to see their ideas used.

Audience: “We need our users to care about our applications [they way they do about the movie.]”

Audience: “If your co-workers will laugh at it, there’s something to it.”

Thank you for letting me foist these new ideas on you.

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