The long-lived “desktop” operating system has been with us for almost 40 years. Although some of the mechanics have proven remarkably durable, contemporary computer usage is very different from the context these were born in, and it’s time to do some rethinking.
I’m going to outline the original idea, illustrate some changes in computer use, and suggest some new ways of thinking.
(I’m a longtime Mac user, so my experience and examples are specific to that platform. Maybe Windows is awesome now, I don’t know, my last real exposure was with XP when I worked at Microsoft.)
‘Dark patterns’ aren’t always malicious mind control. They’re often a symptom of disjointed company culture. Will the Times change?
A recent New York Times op-ed, titled “Stopping the Manipulation Machines,” derided the use of dark patterns: design tricks that push people to do things online by confusing or deliberately inconveniencing them.
Kudos to the writer, Greg Bensinger, a member of the Times’ editorial board, who does a laudable job calling out obnoxious dark patterns.
His first target is the Amazon Prime unsubscribe process, which he calls “a labyrinthine process that requires multiple screens and clicks.”
Bensinger claims Amazon deters customers…
Keller Easterling is an architect, designer, and author whose works traverse a wide range of spaces. I came to her work as someone interested in complex systems — a topic that Easterling, a professor of architecture at Yale, has been writing about for decades. She has written about everything from the Appalachian Trail (in Organization Space) to North Korea’s demilitarized zone (Enduring Innocence) to special economic zones and broadband infrastructure (Extrastatecraft).
Medium Design, Easterling’s new book, can be read as a corollary to her prior work. Extrastatecraft, for instance, provides detailed descriptions of various sprawling, techno-solutionist systems that prop up…
This is the spiritual successor to a story that appeared in OneZero in April 2019: “From Like Buttons to Message Bubbles: The UX Designs You Can’t Use”
You love thinking big. You love looking at other tech companies to see how they designed their products, or their navigation system, or that one animation transition you love. You aspire to design something like that. You keep bookmarks in your head: If you needed an expanding carousel for your entertainment app, you could take inspiration from Netflix.
Or maybe not. There are in fact some patterns you can’t use.
“W-what do you…
Much like midcentury modern has overtaken the American home, design homogeneity has descended upon the web.
It comes in the form of particular typefaces, notably Georgia and Arial; the use of white and off-white as default background colors; and certain design elements, such as hamburger menus and flat design, that are common enough to be ubiquitous.
This design homogenization has emerged gradually, according to a recent study by a group of researchers at Indiana University. It found that websites were most dissimilar from each other between 2008 and 2010, when designers began to take advantage of large, higher-quality monitors that…
From my Brooklyn apartment in New York City, I watch Gov. Andrew Cuomo share the daily Covid-19 death toll with the nation. I watch his broadcast every day, around 11 a.m. I dubbed Cuomo America’s #crisisdaddy and have posted so many Instagram Stories of these dispatches that people have begun to send me photos of his potentially pierced nipples. I’m not a #CuomoCrusher*, but I am fully addicted to the daily broadcasts — they’re a glimmer of hope in otherwise droning and difficult days. *(Required anti-bias reading.)
We build a lot of technology and push it out into the world. When things go well, we rush to take credit for what we did. But when things go wrong, we hide our heads in the sand. This isn’t just about ignoring negative outcomes — it’s about maintaining the status quo.
Whenever I write a critical piece about technology and its impact on society, a certain kind of troll surfaces. I like to call them the “techno-whataboutist.” …
Social media is ruining the internet, but not in the way you think. (Okay, not solely in the way you think.) Every time an image is uploaded to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it gets compressed, degrading its overall quality. If an image is downloaded and re-uploaded — which happens constantly to memes — the effect grows even more drastic. Eventually, if an image is shared too many times, it can become unreadable. But now, Twitter’s taking a small step toward fixing the problem.
This week, Twitter engineer Nolan O’Brien announced that the site will now “preserve JPEGs as they are…
When David Pogue reviewed Amazon’s original Kindle e-reader for the New York Times back in 2007, he asked a simple question: “Are they completely nuts?”
“Printed books are dirt cheap, never run out of power, and survive drops, spills, and being run over,” he continued. “And their file format will still be readable 200 years from now.”
Fast forward 12 years and the Kindle, along with its iOS and Android apps, now dominate the e-reading market.
Have they killed physical books? Of course not. But they were never meant to.
“Once you hit the first intersection in town, make a right onto Main Street. Go past the fire station and over the railroad tracks. Make your second right after the tracks. If you see a large metal building with a truck parked in overgrown grass, turn around; you’ve gone too far…”
These are part of the directions to the house I grew up in. For decades, these directions, in one form or another, would be dictated to people planning to visit for the first time. …
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