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Compared to excellent ink-and-paper designs, most current software communicates deplorably. The main cause is that many software designers feel they are designing a machine. Their foremost concern is behavior—what the software does. They start by asking: What functions must the software perform? What commands must it accept? What parameters can be adjusted? (In the case of websites: What pages must there be? How are they linked together? What are the dynamic features?) These designers start by specifying functionality , but the essence of information software is the presentation .
Sun, 10 Jun 2007 15:12:08 -0400

The map and the written sentence are both about 5000 years old. The time bar graph was invented about 250 years ago. They are beautiful, venerable forms of visual communication. The bugs have been worked out. They are universally, intuitively understood. The pulldown menu, the checkbox, and the bureaucracy-inspired text entry form were invented 25 years ago, desperation devices to counter inadequate technology. They were created for a world that no longer exists. Twenty-five years from now, no one will be clicking on drop-down menus, but everyone will still be pointing at maps and correcting each others’ sentences.
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 02:54:44 -0400

With air travel in a slump for the past few years, airlines have been desperate for any passengers they can get. Unsuccessful ones have even faced bankruptcy. With so much at stake, why hasn’t any airline attempted to improve the ticket-buying experience through better software design? The problem is primarily cultural. Asking “Why doesn’t Southwest design better software?” is challenging the symptom, not the disease. The real question is, “Does software design exist yet?” Before we can expect better airline websites, we may need to change a worldview.
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 03:03:21 -0400

Before the 15th century, books were precious and extremely rare, for each had to be copied by hand. A single book might cost as much as a farm. Books were also exquisite works of art, carefully lettered in calligraphy, lavishly illustrated and decorated. In the 1440s, Johann Gutenberg’s movable type press boosted book production over a thousand-fold, making books affordable (and literacy worthwhile, and political awareness possible) for the average person for the first time. Gutenberg’s emulation of calligraphy was so accurate, his bibles were sold as handmade manuscripts in Paris. When people noticed the quantity and similarity of the books, they did not suspect printing, but witchcraft!
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 03:04:55 -0400

Before the 15th century, books were precious and extremely rare, for each had to be copied by hand. Books were also exquisite works of art.. Gutenberg and contemporary printers were exceptionally devoted to the art form, and took great pains to preserve the quality of the hand-lettered page. Unlike early printers, unfortunately, early web technologists cared little for the artistic qualities of their predecessor..
Bret Victor . But why was this?
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 03:08:28 -0400

Industrial design brought art to existing mass-produced technology, but printing brought mass-producing technology to an existing art.
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 03:09:07 -0400

The “interactive web” embraces a ludicrously mixed metaphor of machines on pages, a monstrous hybrid of virtual mechanical affordances printed on virtual paper. Information is trapped behind interactive mechanisms and presented in static layouts. It is the worst of both worlds.
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 03:10:31 -0400

People constantly settle for ugly, clunky software, but demand informative, professionally-designed books, newspapers, magazines, and—ironically—brochures, ads, and manuals for that very software. As brochures have become websites, this duality has veered into absurdity: “Let’s design beautiful software to sell our ugly software!” The wrapper tastes better than the candy.
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 03:18:05 -0400

Permalink technology races ahead, people are tolerating increasingly worse design just to use it. Good design makes people happy, but feature count makes people pay.
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 05:42:21 -0400

Print has one supreme flaw: ink is indelible. [No matter how good the static design,] the reader has the challenge of visually or physically navigating through the entire data space to find the group of interest. The modern computer system provides the first visual medium in history to overcome this restriction. Liberating us from the permanence of publication is the undersung crux of the computer—the dynamic display screen. Its pixels are magic ink—capable of absorbing their context and reflecting a unique story for every reader. And the components surrounding the display—CPU, storage, network, input devices—are just peripherals for inferring context .
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 07:40:20 -0400

Have you been to your public library? It’s like Starbucks, but free of charge, noise, and corporate branding.
Mon, 11 Jun 2007 12:52:35 -0400

To imagine that Bret Victor spends a lot of his time collecting jokes for his examples (like you and me) does him a gross injustice.
— me
Tue, 26 Jun 2007 15:50:44 -0400

Village games are a distinct service-based offering that is separate from other forms of games. They certainly aren't retail titles. They aren't ‘indie’ or ‘casual games’ either. They are quirky, isolated communities much like a traditional village or small town. The communities tend to be a bit more friendly and insular then their larger city-sized brethren such as Everquest or World of Warcraft. The game design tends to be a bit more unique and able to take risks. Such game companies usually started with a small community numbering in the thousands. Many customers have been with them for years. Each operates either a micropayment or a subscription model that doesn't cap the amount of money the customer wishes to spend. They focus on a niche experience that is not provided by larger retail titles.
Mon, 23 Jul 2007 01:40:35 -0400