Why We're All Wrong About the Future of User Interfaces

Designer Bret Victor has posted an absolutely brilliant rant about the future of interaction design, which everybody must read. You've heard a lot of hype about ubiquitous touchscreens and gestural controls — but Victor has a very eloquent yet simple explanation of why these things are not the future.

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In a nutshell, because these "pictures under glass" touchscreen interfaces neglect the tactile aspect of using your hands, they're a poor substitute for the world of objects. Writes Victor:

Pictures Under Glass is an interaction paradigm of permanent numbness. It's a Novocaine drip to the wrist. It denies our hands what they do best. And yet, it's the star player in every Vision Of The Future.

To me, claiming that Pictures Under Glass is the future of interaction is like claiming that black-and-white is the future of photography. It's obviously a transitional technology. And the sooner we transition, the better.

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You should definitely check out the whole thing. [WorryDream]

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DISCUSSION

Brett Victor wrote the perfect article for the internet. It's a bunch of evidence on why something is wrong, despite huge evidence to the contrary, and then presents no examples of what types of manual interfaces WOULD be preferable (aside from non sequitur examples like a hammer).

The order of the letters on a QWERTY keyboard to someone who has never seen one before do not seem to have an intuitive placement. It becomes easier with more familiarity, and time using the tool.