Live Blogging – The Music of Interaction Design
It’s early Sunday morning at SXSWi. There is hardly anyone in Ballroom A. The room’s maybe 10% full.
The panel is the Music of Interaction Design, led by Cennydd Bowles and James Box, both of of Clearleft Ltd. Reading the description, I thought music was a metaphor. But as I sat down they’ve been testing out music clips, there’s music notes and bars on the PowerPoint presentations. Being a music lover and former musician this could be interesting.
10:33 ELIAC – electronic integrator and computer. They’ve got a picture of it up on the screen. Huge computer. Now punch card computers. The user is being forced to speak the language of the machine.
10:36 In the 1980s Apple wanted to turn the industry and exploit the home market.
10:37 As interaction designers we think about how objects will be used over time.
10:38 Music and interaction design are asynchronous. They both blend art and science. Combine building blocks. Both experiential. Both ineffable.
10:39 Musical score up on the screen now. It’s visual. It can be abstract like music notes or more iconic like the guitar tab. Digital desingers use similar notations for the visuals we design – sketches, wireframes for direct mapping. But this is all about the surface layer and not what happens between the pages.
10:41 All the methods of planning and instructing how to build don’t get at the experience a design gives us.
10:42 Three layers effect our response to the world around us – affect, behaviour, cognition.
10:42 Today we’ll focus on the affective response. Attractiveness bias…attractive defendants get out of convictions more so than ugly ones.
10:44 We’re shown a video clip. Musical consonance is a positive affective state, it effects us all and we all respond the same…across the world.
10:46 They have a couple notes on screen. They’re playing the chord that goes with them. They’re talking about assonance and dissonance. Which is how we talk about user experience sometimes. They just showed the ‘Brown Note’ South Park clip…hahahahahahaha.
10:47 the brain has a built in ability to process musical assonance and dissonance.
10:48 Assonance and dissonance are really ratios, it’s all math. A perfect 5th chord, totally assonant, beautiful, harmonious to us, has a three to two ratio.
10:49 They’re talking about the golden ratio now. It’s been used in design for centuries. they’re showing an example of the grid system.
10:50 Three and four beat measures feel good for us. Five beat measures feel awkward to us.
10:51 Interaction design involves more than the visual rhythms on the page. What comes between pages is important.
10:53 They’re talking about Hunch.
10:54 Our brains can find a certain pitch. It allows us to filter out what we don’t want or need.
10:56 Perceptual Layering – for example the use of colors on the London Underground Map. Our brains look for patterns – he has a picture of a snake up on the screen. Evolutionarily, we had to recognize patterns to perserve our lives and health.
10:57 Music is the pleasurable overflow of the brain.
10:58 They just went through a bunch of chords. Visually and through sound.
11:00 – Gestalt. Figure – ground. They’re showing a Mac Computer app for writing. It takes up the whole screen, is a picutre of a snowy hill with two trees and there is soothing music playing. It lets you focus on the task of writing.
11:03 Emergence – designers confuse the brain of the user so that it can emerge for them. For example, an obscure picture that takes a while to understand.
11:04 Invariance – similar objects but presented differently. He’s playing the 1812 Overture as an example.
11:07 Simplicity is prevalent in design, minimalism. But like chords that sound better not thin but richer, can we design this way?
11:10Dissonance inspires frustration consonance inspires boredom. How do we find the balance, the flow?
11:11 Subvert Expectation – Stravinsky was a master. Our brains expect something, but we’re being tricked. Stravinsky wanted our minds to hear something new, it’s innovative.
11:19 People think that UX design is all about answering the desires of the user. But as designers we have a responsibility to involve our craft in what we do. UX designers should take the lessons of music to interaction design. Sometimes users don’t know what they want, which is where the designers should infuse ideas of assonance, dissonance and consonance. Designers should find the balance between frustration and boredom.