10/GUI – Calling out the BS

A couple people pointed out this video recently: http://10gui.com/video/

I do not share the generally positive view that others have given. It’s just a nice video with some horribly poor assumptions and the repetition of unoriginal ideas.

1) Multitouch does not make you into a multitasking god. At about 45 second in, they show four sliders moving independently of each other. This premise is so fundamentally flawed, that I’m astounded. The limitation of a single point of interaction doesn’t come from the mouse; it comes from our attention and cognitive limits. Multitouch may allow the computer to receive multiple sources of input, but that doesn’t mean that a single person can fully utilize it. Don’t believe me? Try this: Put both index fingers on the table. Move one up and down. Move the other left and right. Notice something? One of them very quickly will start moving diagonally or in a circle. Maybe you can successfully get through one cycle, but then your brain gives up. In multitouch gestures, though your fingers are at different locations, they all behave similarly. A stretch, a rotation, etc… all perform a formulaic motion about a focal point. Such gestures represent a single point of interaction using different styles. Did you notice ANY example in the practical portion where the video used “multiple points of interaction”? I sure didn’t.

2) The window layout proposal is unsubstantiated bullshit, and I have a publication to prove it (http://steveharoz.com/research/layout/layout.pdf). Our spatial memory is the best that we have, and it works very well in 2D. Layout doesn’t really matter; we can handle it. Furthermore, while swooping your hands around this completely unique piece of hardware (Wacom Bamboo Touch cough cough), how often do you think you’ll accidentally hit the left and right sides? Imagine if every other drag or mouse movement causes you to flip windows? You try dragging some files into an email, but the window switches and you accidentally drag them into Photoshop causing all of them to open. I already have that problem with my laptop trackpad where the right side causes a scroll. It’s annoying. What happens when you want a pdf and a website open while you’re working on a paper? I do that all the time. Here, you are just shit out of luck.

3) They didn’t actually DO anything in the “in practice” segment. It just shows that the windows can slide back and forth and that it has an alt-tab mode. I don’t get what I’m supposed to learn here.

4) Ever heard of a user study? Or at least some use case examples?!?

Overall, the video was well made, but the proposals were unsubstantiated and unoriginal. The hardware design – though unoriginal – is nice, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The exclusive factor that is slowing the adoption of multitouch is not software nor ideas about how to use it. Cheap enough hardware is just slow to come out. Apple and Microsoft have had multitouch in their OSs since Leopard and Vista. Good cheap hardware is finally making it to market, so we’ll see what happens…

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3 thoughts on “10/GUI – Calling out the BS

  1. David Manheim

    On point 1, I’ll disagree slightly. Since you’ve played the guitar, at one point at least, you have no doubt noticed that you can be trained to do pretty impressive stuff with the fingers of a single hand. Attention and cognitive limits are not infinitely malleable, but we can look at the differences between age groups with regards to attention to see that multiple points of focus are becoming more common, and people who play video games do some pretty amazing things with their fingers routinely – they just had to be motivated by the threat of being PWNed. There are cognitive limits, but I’d suppose that they are partially learned. If this type of interface becomes available, it will presumably cause people to stretch their capacity to interact in this fashion.

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