3. april 2008

Transparency - a quality of mapping

Previously i have mentioned the term "Use Quality" as something i want to look into. We have now worked with RFID for more than three months, and my knowledge of the technology is steadily increasing. Lately i have been trying to figure out how the technology fits into my major project for this semester. At this point i find RFID to be a tool to enable cheap and ubiquitous objects to have networking capabilities. And then you ask: "What does use quality have to do with that?". The idea that are presented in the book "Toughtful Interaction Design" by Löwgren og Stolterman that the perceived quality of a product in use should be part of the designers repertoire of tools when designing. These qualities can be achieved by working consciously with the "language" of quality in much the same manner as we work with the language of shapes and colour.

In my view the answer lies in mapping. Think of the earth and the history of cartography. In interaction design the quality of transparency refers to what could be regarded as making complex interactions obvious and straight forward. The feeling the user should be left with is that the action is understandable, logical and crystal clear. But how can this be achieved? It is not that long ago that there was white spots on the maps of the world. Those areas had to be imagined and speculated upon before they where visited and mapped. And by mapping them they became transparent and demystified. So how can this transfer to my project? The mapping of unknown parts of the world and later the mapping of human genome by mapping the complete human genome, shows that mapping proves to be immensely valuable to humans as a tool for navigating and utilizing unknown and complex systems.

There is a host of mapping projects on all sorts of data, social relationships (like in the previous post), virtual relationships like the Digg arc map and other data that can yield insight when mapped. What i will try to do is mapping the objects people carry around into a similar structure and distribute the info in a broad and open manner. This map will be new to us and can help us understand or observe new quirks of human behaviour and find new opportunities for interaction.

Concept in development from Knut Karlsen on Vimeo.

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