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From Here To Singularity

"The time from here to Singularity depends sensitively on the particulars of what we humans do during the next decade (and even the next few years)."

“Digital Physics” – Your cognitive artifacts come to life.

This interesting post discusses the user interface of this month’s new overpriced bauble from Apple (No, I’m not jealous – much.) Representational physics (Dubbed “Digital” Physics by the author) is a an ever more immersive part of the digital user interface. Part of this is certainly resulting in improved experience, but part of the drive is IMO just “feature” competition, bored programmers doing cute stuff, and marketing wonks let loose in product design.

iphone home

For people who play video games, Digital Physics is old news. For the rest of us, the Digital Physics experience is new. The traditional Windows desktop of the nineties never delivered life-like experiences. Instead, users where forced to learn to interact with computers by learning new gestures, via mice and keyboard. The modern interface from Apple changed that paradigm somewhat, by introducing digital interfaces that responded to mouse clicks. iPhone takes this experience to a whole new level, letting us interact with digital information using our hands.

I am not convinced that this is the paradigm shift that Apple boys are all calling it. Representational Physics (The article calls this “Digital Physics” which misses the real point IMO.) has been around as long as tools have – after all, what is a tool but a way of translating one intention into a different action? And, what makes selecting an item from your iphone playlist any different from choosing the floor to go to in an elevator?

Sure, the iphone might have some imaginary “inertia” or other cutesy ‘look and feel’ addition to your gestures, but so too an elevator can have nice clicky buttons, soft silent buttons, or perhaps even a slider the represented the elevator that you could move up and down.

That said, were are both evolved and learn to live in a physical world: user interfaces with heft and feel are undoubtably easier to learn, use and eventually assimilate into the background of our conciousness – like the steering wheel of a car, or the handle of your front door. So, what might just be cute and gimmicky today is going to be an considered essential tomorrow, and taken for granted the day after.

The Physics of iPhone

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