Friday, September 15, 2006

Quixotic Bubble Busting

The frequently-insightful Simson Garfinkel discusses design flaws of the Motorola Q phone, both software:

In other words, the Q succeeds in bringing the experience of Windows to the mobile phone. This is its failing.

and hardware. He includes what should have been a scenario for usability testing: moving an mp3 from your desktop to play on the Q. He points out one of my peeves, the developer's implementation model showing through to the interface:

Despite all the jazzy hardware, it's frustrating, not fun, to use the Q. This is a phone that should fit into the life of the user and the context of use, rather than forcing the user to understand its internal organization. ... Geeks might gravitate to the Q for the challenge of figuring out how it works, but most average users will be exasperated.

Is there anything more difficult than designing user interfaces? Maybe predicting the future (sorry about the lack of segue). The September 2006 IEEE Spectrum has the results of a survey of IEEE Fellows about "technology that is - and isn't - on the horizon". The results seem really ... mundane? Apparently not too many participate in SETI, 72.5% said it was unlikely that humans will "understand signals from extraterrestrial civilizations", although only 39.5% think it is unlikely that "humanoid robots" will "care for the elderly in their homes". What?