Intuitive – alas no

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The new Windows 8 Metro interface has drawn praise and scorn in almost equal measure. Widely hailed as an innovative and imaginative departure from established paradigm when used on tablets, it has been roundly condemned when put to use within the PC desktop environment; an environment in which the touch interface seems innately less appropriate. By way of contrast, the Apple OSX interface is commonly held - not least by Apple themselves  - to be an interface of such intuitive simplicity ('it simply works') that the claim has almost gained acceptance as a simple given. A position that I happen to hold on the issue of the 'intuitive interface' is that there is as good as no such thing in real, practical terms. There may a slightly stronger case for…
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Alien objects

creative thinking, creativity, critical & creative thinking, design, learning
LOLA: Alien Object Analysis on Prezi   A critical & creative thinking activity Essentially, a version of a traditional design object analysis activity, this is a creative exercise that introduces students to the idea that all objects can convey meanings; meanings which can be clear, obscure, shifting, ephemeral, long-lasting, trivial, profound, widely understood, narrowly received, lost - and more. The activity can be run with any number of variations, but the one presented here is set against some dystopian future in which all the inhabitants of planet Earth have abandoned it, leaving behind only their manufactured artifacts. At some time subsequent, an alien civilisation finds abandoned world and sends down a landing party to explore. The biggest puzzle they face is trying to make sense of the objects they find…
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Even less intuitive

creative thinking
In a previous post I opined, more or less, that in design specialisms such as interface design, for example, any quest for some sort of universally intuitive solution is unequivocally doomed to failure. The reason for this, I argued, is that before any user of interface-driven devices  can get to grips with them they must, of necessity, call upon techniques, schemas and processes that they've learned, acquired or become familiar with in past engagements with similar - or even not so similar - devices. In short, users call upon experience and familiarity when faced with new interface challenges; intuition - "the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason [1]"  - has no part to play in the process at all. Should past experience be of no use…
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Intuitive? Perhaps not

creative thinking
In the worlds of ergonomics and user experience design it seems that one of the most desirable of all outcomes - the golden ideal - is to conjure up a solution that, while it may be novel in concept to new users, is nevertheless rapidly and painlessly understood and absorbed by novitiates when encountered for the first time. This is especially true in areas where there is a strong commercial or life-threatening imperative. Such ideal solutions are not uncommonly described as 'intuitive'. But are they intuitive? Really? Indeed, is it ever even possible to design any truly intuitive interface at all? (Incidentally, shouldn't that be 'intuitable'?) The OED defines intuition as, "the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason". In plain terms, intuition means that people…
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