Interface as Poetry

November 30, 1999

Interface design overlaps to great extent with the varied disciplines of Humans-Computer Interaction, Interaction Design, User Experience, and others. So I will use the term to indicate any system which provides the border between a human and data.

An Interface is a metaphor. Perhaps the most widely familiar one is that of a desktop, which is used in most GUI computer systems.

Poetry is much the same. It utilizes metaphor and other arbitrary representations to convey emotional data.

Interface design stagnating. Although our capabilites are quickly increasing, the metaphors used are the same old ones with only mild improvements. If they are innovative, they’re often so abstract as to allow mere aesthetic enjoynment. Information sculptures are fairly popular now. And that’s really all these innovative pieces of information design are good for.

It’s time for the representations to became less abstract, but the connections to grow less direct. Much as people adapt to the metaphors of the command line, and soon enough they are second nature, using complex metaphors based on human natural experience is a good way to encapsulate large amounts of data.

Interface as Poetry - November 30, 1999 - Michael Katsevman