Learning From Broadcast to Make Immersive, Evocative UX

Learning From Broadcast to Make Immersive, Evocative UX


Is it time for South By Southwest Interactive 2009 already?

It seems like only yesterday, like it was a vivid dream. Thought provoking panels and presentations led by the brightest minds in the world. Bar after bar, live band after live band. Manly interface designers cozied in the back seat of a bicycling rickshaw. The multitude of bats.

SXSW was also a fairly profound turning point in my professional career. Blogging for the first time, and having worked within my own aloof world prior, there were people on the dais saying the same things I felt like I was yelling from a remote island for years.

Better still, many of these panelists motivated me to continue writing this blog, challenging my ideas, and getting to know people through social networks who continue to think a step ahead of me. That’s where the real fun starts.

In the spirit of continuing the dialogues that I’m most passionate about, I’ve entered a presentation on behalf of all the talented people at Emerge: Learning From Broadcast to Make Immersive, Evocative UX (user experiences). It’s really the least I could do to say thanks for a conference that pushed my own thinking into a new gear. My hope is to do the same for someone else in 2009.

As part of the process, I need all 8 of you NMB readers to do me a favor: head to the Panel Picker page, register, and vote up my presentation. Votes in the panel picker represent 30% of the selection criteria. So it’s important.

After the jump, a bit more background on the idea for the presentation, and other potential panels worth your consideration….

It all started with Spool, kind of

As I mention in this post about Jared Spool’s Magic and Mental Models presentation, when I first saw him about a decade ago, he really changed the way I looked at building worthwhile user experiences: both by designing the pages backwards, from the goal of the experience back to the homepage, and by validating the ideas I had on link sentence length from having worked in television and radio.

Even back then I knew that there was a link between writing for radio and the Internet, and that as technology allowed user experiences to be more like TV and film rather than radio, the conventions I learned to create characters, backstories, and ultimately write screenplays would become increasingly important.

Jared spent an hour illustrating that the more you use illusion in a user experience, the better that user perceives the experience to be. YouTube doesn’t load faster than any other video site it was competing with at its inception, but by starting the video while the rest was loading, the experience feels faster. The user is distracted by the technical processes, and their perception of time has been manipulated by the video starting almost immediately.

That’s when I realized that the convergence of broadcast storytelling and interaction was here.

The magic Spool was describing is exactly what I went to College for. Television and Film have been practicing variations of his magic ideas for more than a century.

First, with the very format itself: taking a series of still pictures and moving them in front of a light source so quickly that you feel like you’re watching motion.

From there, the questions get more interesting when you start to compare how suspension of disbelief is created with story, direction, editing, art direction, actors on screen in “traditional” media with the interactive and social capabilities of the Internet.

When you watch how time and space are masterfully manipulated with something as elemental as still shots in La Jetee, you can’t help but feel like the still spaces of page states on the internet can do the same. And that’s in the most static sense.

The weaving of static images over 26 minutes below marked the global importance of the French New Wave era of cinema. La Jetee directly inspired the storyline of Twelve Monkeys and The Terminator, as well as the careers of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and countless others. Many call it the greatest movie of all time. To me, it serves as the beginning of the end of film as strictly art, and the start to film as artistic commercial juggernaut.

What happens when you can interact with the narrative, be a part of it? Not just from a seat with a cup holder at a theater, but at your desk, in your living room, or walking to the park. As the Internet becomes more ubiquitous, more personal, and more evocative, how can we look back upon great poets, films, and TV series to help us understand how to create the future of communication?

I have no idea. But at least we can work together from nodes like this blog, my twitter profile, and this presentation at SXSW to take a few stabs at it.

And while you’re picking panels…

Russ Unger was kind enough to add my presentation submission at UserGlue among a formidable list of people who are all taking their own intriguing angles on the intricacies of figuring out where the Internet is headed. Please join me in voting for the panels he proposes to be on Friendship is Dead and Your Name Sucks.

My only additions (so far) are:

Tangible Interactions in Physical Spaces by Molly Wright Steenson, Princeton University School of Architecture.

Your Brand Is Not My Friend by Alan Wolk. If it’s even half as good as the insights on his blog, this presentation will be a valuable one to attend.

Although really, when you get down to it, I’m not sure how you don’t get lost in the cascading sea of great ideas floating out on the panel picker.

I only wish it operated a bit more like a bookmarking site, so I could refer back to it, and all the people and ideas I found interesting just from the panel picker itelf, and connect with other people who found the same ideas I did.

One last time… Hit the panel picker here and vote up Learning From Broadcast to Make Immersive, Evocative UX. I promise a fun, thought-provoking experience as a start to a much larger and more interesting dialogue than one I could ever come up with on my own. And even if it doesn’t make the final cut, I certainly hope you’ll be in touch so we can share this year’s SXSW experience together.

Of course, if you found a good one, please post it in the comments below.