January 20th, 2005

ENG 519 Discussion Questions for Tonight's Shedroff Article

  1. What is the most intense human experience you've had to date in your life? (We should make an effort to describe this briefly, which will be difficult due to its nature.)

  2. Where in Shedroff's "Experience Cube" (p. 287, Fig. 11.6) do you see this experience falling? (Note: Though you can't read it in the figure, the "x-axis" is the combination of creative, productive, and communicative.)

  3. Do you "sense" that this experience could be replicated in an interactive medium? If so, which one, and why? If not, why not?

ENG 519 Critical Response & Application of Shedroff's Article

Shedroff contends that information interaction design is the intersection of three different disciplines: information design, interaction design, and sensorial design. I have little-to-no background in these separate theories. I thought Shedroff did a good job of introducing each of them at a high level, though I did feel a little “short changed” on the sensorial design theory. It bothers me that I’m not sure if it's because sensorial design plays a smaller part, or it was due to its placement in the article -- near the end.

While I now have a good grasp of what information design is versus interaction design versus sensorial design, I’m not sure I have a good grasp of how the three of them together create the "unifying theory" the title of the article suggests. I do see how all three contribute to the audience experience. However, I would think that if the three designs together are critical to that audience experience, then it would take all three, always, together, to describe all life experiences. However, Shedroff says under interaction design, referring to his "Experience Cube," that "all life experiences (whether mediated by technology or not) fit into this cube," which would be fine if all of the elements in the cube weren't solely from the interaction theory.

I recently watched The Elegant Universe, which talks about String Theory being a unification theory (or the "Theory of Everything," if you will). It is touted as the possible unification theory between Einstein's theory of relativity, which explains how "large things" work (like the universe, for example) as opposed to the theory of quantum mechanics, which explains how very, very small things work (at the subatomic particle level, for instance). Presently, the theory of relativity when applied to very small things, breaks down. Likewise, quantum mechanics breaks down when applied to very large things. String Theory would apply to both very, very large things, and very, very small things, making it a unification theory.

Perhaps I am reading too much into the word "unified" in the title, and quite possibly because of my recent viewing with its scientific vigor with regards to unification, I was expecting too much from this article, but I just don't see the "unification" part. However, though it left me shall we say, "lacking," in some respects, I do feel that there is a plethora of good information in the article to help us analyze or practice information design more effectively. These include:

How This Can Help Us Design
There is a distinction between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom.Information is organized data. Do not present data that is not organized.
Alphabets, locations, time, continuums, numbers, categories, and randomness are all ways to organize information.Try changing the type of organization, or a combination of organizations, to uncover patterns of relationships. If possible, let people rearrange things themselves or provide them with alternative organizations.
Items that contribute to interactivity are control and feedback, productivity and creation, adaptive, and communicative experiences.The more of these items we can inject into the design of the product, the more interactive it will be.
Each medium has strengths and weaknesses in terms of sensorial experience.When designing, remember that speakers/hearing, displays/vision, and smell/taste create a richer sensorial experience than cultural factors / cognitive abilities, kinesthetics/gesture, and touch/dexterity.

In conclusion, the theory of information interaction design, as well as at least two of its elements, information design and interactive design, continues to evolve as it is studied. Shedroff's idea of a unified theory of design has garnered interest in the academic community as evidenced by 17 citations of this article, and by an international audience of articles, one of which is in German, one Italian, and one Portuguese from universities in Germany, Italy, and Brasil, respectively.

The theory is also being considered in a wide variety of applications with such citing article titles as: Filmification of Words and Sentences Towards Teaching and Learning, Interactive Metamorphic Visuals: Exploring Polyhedral Relationships, Computer-Aided Visualization: From Applications to Information Environments and the Implications for Planning and Urban Design, and Levels of Interactivity and Interactivity Maps.

A marginal dinner...


I worked from home today, as the roads were still icy in the morning. The EAGLE luncheon was canceled. I spent some time on the phone with Jason from Austin trying to get that damn QMX database working correctly. It's really starting to stress me out. I have got to have it ready to demo next Tuesday morning.

I had the Honey Mustard Chicken Breast Filet entree for dinner. I didn't much care for it. The breast patty was good, but it was "in vegetables," and the vegetables included black beans. I hate beans. All beans except green beans. I know legumes are good for you. I tried to be a big boy and eat them. I did not like them. I will most likely not re-order this item.

I had two pieces of toast lightly buttered. Delicious. It's been a while since I've had that. I had all three of my carbs "left over" today, so treated myself to one of my favorite things in the world. Toast.

I was excited about class tonight as it was my turn to provide a critique on the class reading, and to devise some discussion questions for class. About 15 minutes before class was over, we got to the questions. Bobette answered the question about her most intense human experience to date. It revolved around 9/11, and visiting Ground Zero. We had good discussion, but ran out of time. Class ran over, actually.

I stopped at the Food Lion on the way home and bought bread, eggs, yogurt, and a green pepper.

Robert was at my house when I got home.

I had the White Cheddar Chips snack. These actually tasted more like rice cakes than potato chips, but they were still pretty good.

I did homework reading, and he read for pleasure, then started on a crossword puzzle. I joined him in the puzzle after a while. We pretty much did it all. Good work!