Academic journal article Visible Language

Thoughtful Interaction Design: A Design Perspective on Information Technology

Academic journal article Visible Language

Thoughtful Interaction Design: A Design Perspective on Information Technology

Article excerpt

JONAS LOWGREN AND ERIK STOLTERMAN THOUGHTFUL INTERACTION DESIGN A DESIGN PERSPECTIVE ON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MIT Press, 2004 ISBN 0-262-12271-5, 198 pages, hardbound, black and white illustrations, $35.00

When I picked up this book, I thought I'd give it a quick browse. The early pages confirmed this approach as it identified its goal as representing design to information technology (IT). However by the end of the first chapter I knew I needed to read it thoroughly.

The authors are in the Scandinavian human-centered tradition that emphasizes development of the human side of technology use. As designers in search of digital solutions, they traverse design processes, understanding people and technology in use and development. This book is important because designers increasingly work with information technologists and epistemologically their worlds are quite different. What is important, what constitutes evidence for a solution, how a process unfolds and what is the goal are all somewhat different between these disciplines. Many designers lack basic understanding of science or logic and find interdisciplinary work difficult or even troubling. This book serves to provide a bridge from design to IT. Another book is needed for traffic going in the other direction, from IT to design.

In an early chapter the authors develop terms for the design process in order to speak clearly about it; the terms are vision, a largely intuitive first organizing principle for what will unfold; operative image, the externalization of the vision that bridges the abstract and the concrete; and specification, the transition from an operative image into a specific something to be built. The way a designer works, holistically, fluidly and in a search for the character of an emergent whole, is significantly different from that of an engineer. The authors enumerate design ability with the following (p. 45):

* Creating and shaping demands creative and analytical ability

* Deciding demands critical judgment

* Working with a client demands rationality and ability to communicate

* Design of structural qualities demands knowledge of technology and material

* Design of functional qualities demands knowledge of technology use

* Design of ethical qualities demands knowledge of relevant values and ideals

* Design of aesthetic qualities demands an ability to appreciate and compose

After establishing design fundamentals, a chapter explores design methods and techniques. …

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