Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ubiquity and the Future of UI

* Mozilla Labs is working on Ubiquity in an attempt to improve the way we interact with the internet. The video is worth watching (though next time I'd go with someone like Clooney or Freeman for the voice over):

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

* Here's a more thorough explanation of the importance of this concept for the future of the internet.

* Don Norman says the future of UI will be in text interfaces. Operating a computer through typed commands has, up until now, been really scary for a huge percentage of the population. I think DOS might have ruined the party for everyone. I'm not sure whether technical obstacles or a simple failure to understand human users predominated in making all text interactions with computers really scary, but something is changing. It was probably inevitable, since we type faster than we point. Those of us who've gotten addicted to Launchy or Quicksilver over the last few years already see this differently than people who haven't. All you need to do is make commands that feel a little more like natural language and you're there. Humanized text interfaces do not have to be scary, but they are inevitably faster.

* Aza Raskin (the guy pushing Ubiquity) has a post on his blog referencing Scott McCloud's comic introduction to Google Chrome. Both projects approached "Opening a New Tab" in the same way, and Aza notes the confluence of design with excitement. Scott McCloud's comic intro captures the design philosophy, and a lot of the benefits of Chrome that might be easily overlooked. (It strikes me there are a lot of stability and integration features going on under the hood that weren't captured by the first glance tests at Lifehacker I mentioned a few posts back). I'd explain it all, but why compete with Scott McCloud?

* And since I'm talking about UI, one more for fun: UI Guru Jakob Nielsen's Site is Unreadable. You can go gawk at Nielsen's site, but while you're there, you might read one or two of his articles, which are still really insightful, despite their sin-ugly home.