Using Information: New Technologies, Ways & Means

A blog for people interested in contributing to the HICSS-40 minitrack on Using Information: New Technologies...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What kind of new technologies are we talking about?

The point of this blog is to encourage group thinking (not groupthink) about how new technologies are affecting the ways we use information. Here are a few initial thoughts:

tags--popularized by Flickr and, it's a rampant meme these days. Do they really help? If so, what kind of help are they providing? Can you give me data about how tags help? Do you see any other new and interesting applications of tags?

AJAX--the software magic of Async Javascript And XML (esp. XMLHttpRequest), this is the secret that makes highly interactive web widgets work. See Google Maps or for examples. Maps lets you drag the image around, giving the feel of an infinite plane. Live lets you drag items on the page for rearrangable web page display. Question: Isn't AJAX just letting the UI genie out of the bottle again? Won't the AJAX-ification of all things lead to even more UI confusion? Or... is it the way out of the constraints of the HTML UI limitations we've all suffered?

sensing--with RFIDs everywhere, and GPS units, and cell-phones now with location sensing ability, how can will we use geocoded life information effectively? The BBC recently wrote about Nokia's exploration in using cell phones to log your life. What other directions will this go?

quiet standards--we all know that Control-C does a copy, Control-V does a paste. What other parts of our UI world are becoming quietly standardized? More to the point for HICSS, in what ways will quiet standards (informal, often tacit agreements among software makers) become points of positive transfer? I expect, for example, that Control-I will put my text editor into italics mode. That's a great example of positive transfer between software apps without a formal UI spec. But I was REALLY surprised when Control-K put me into insert-hyperlink mode. That was what I'd expected, but I was happily surprised to find it in Blogger's editor (when I'd learned it in Dreamweaver). Even better, I did the Control-K unconsciously... everything just worked. It was only later that I realized what had just happened.

Other ideas? Other technologies?

-- Dan --


Anonymous gwen said...

I'm going to be super daring and be your first comment! :) I am really bummed not to be able to attend this conference. I'm extremely interested to see how this blog and conference plays out. It's something I've been looking on the web for, for a while! I wish you luck and will be checking in on this periodically.

On your Ajax thought - It appears people are using it effectively (so far). Though I am SO afraid for the return of when everyone wanted flash "just because"! However, used correctly it provides instantaneous data at a users hand which previously could have taken another click, 5 seconds of scanning the page and then a back click when the user realizes it's not what they thought it was.

Concerning tagging - Isn't a form of this being using to encourage the (supposed amazing) growth of behavioral marketing? Targeting will make marketers serious dollars but on the flip side it may end up freaking ordinary users out when all of a sudden the web page knows everything about them. Transparent personalization sounds, to me, like the way to go.

Currently at my workplace we work hard to be innovative and exploit new technologies while personally, as a usability professional, I fight with "use it when it's warranted (and cool)" not "just to use it". I psyched for the new tools which are coming together right in front of us but wary of the people out there who might just jump on the bandwagon.

2c :)

7:01 PM  
Anonymous gwen said...

something you might find of interest....

7:04 PM  
Blogger Keith Instone said...

Hi Dan - good timing. Many of these technologies were hot topics at last week's Information architecture summit. For example -

-- What do AJAX, RIAs and Web 2.0 Really Mean for IAs?

-- The Impact of RIA on Design Processes

-- From pace layering to resilience theory: The complex implications for tagging for IA

-- Exploring the context of user, creator and intermediate tagging

See the conference blog for links to presentations, notes, etc.

4:46 AM  

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