scotartt on 11 Jan 2001 14:53:53 -0000

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Re: <nettime> don't Disassociate Webdesign (as an aspect of app engineering) from Usability

On Wed, Jan 10, 2001 at 11:11:23AM -0800, Talan Memmott wrote:
> I certainly do not believe in this either/or approach.
> You cannot simply discount design. That is silly... Though you may want to
> limit what design is to over blown web interfaces that doesn't add up...

I do not discount design. I just recognise that design will never produce
the 'next level' of networked application that felix was talking of. you
see, the next advance in 'internet technology' isn't a better paradign for
designing screens (good or bad or indifferent, it doesn't matter) ... the
real advance will come in thinking of new applications for the network.
Design never made napster, invented it I mean, engineering did. (even *if*
the next application is invented by a designer, I'd contend what they are
doing is engineering, not design).

I am not talking about an either/or approach. I am talking about working
within the appropriate discipline. As a rather glib metaphor, for
instance, is that no-one expects that advances in thinking about black
holes come from astrologers, despite the fact that both astrologers and
astronomers think about "the stars". Not to say design is astrology ...
well only sometimes.

> Yes, there are many web interfaces that deplete usability... But, in this

usability is irrelevant at this point of the scheme.

> regard you are talking about an engineering flaw in the application -- as
> the UI design must be 'engineered' to make the application usable... It is
> about integration, not division....

hmm that's funny, I was a UI engineer for years, then along came "the web"
and then suddenly UI is a "design" discipline (and I went back to the
lucrative business of coding back ends). But obviously if its a *failure*
its a *failure* of *engineering* not of design!

> The library app you mention, the telnet version that is, may be the better
> choice because it is simpler... That is not to say that the application is

Actually the telnet application is more complex. For instance, you have to
be used to "terminal" type applications, and it provides richer

> not 'designed', that there was no design consideration given... It is better
> designed than the web application.... better engineered...

No, design came along and imposed itself on an effective-enough piece of
engineering. Firstly by insisting that the engineering live up to *any*
type of "design practice". And then by imposing a terrible design
practice to boot.

Yes there is good design. Of course! (just like there's BAD ENGINEERING).
But I am arguing abuot paradigms. Felix pointed out that he felt that the
*real* innovation comes from totally new networks or network uses
developing, (such as napster or slashdot) not from advances in page layout
or screen design. And I wholeheartedly agree. Look at us here in nettime.
text only. An artistic, aesthethic, political social network. Is it
'designed' as in visually designed, or is it socially engineered?

Someone else, I saw, sarcastically made reference to the book, which lacks
any sophisticated visual design at all, and therefore must be useless.
Which is the type of attitude you commonly find about web pages or
internet applications!!!

I think that, after modernism/postmodernism, aesthetics can offer very
little in the way of transformative praxis to everyday society. "They"
(Society, The Conspiracy, all of Us, or the Spectacle, if you like), have
found a way to assimilate *any* aesthetics into itself, so this avenue
possesses no power to substantially alter everyday life on a mass scale.

Well, maybe, anyway. Recently I went to Rome and saw some Carravaggio
paintings, after this point all subsequent painting lost its meanings for
me. Even Rothko, who previously I adored, now I see and feel .. nothing.
But its wider social implications? Nada. Its just painting, well
prescribed nowadays - revoltionary painting practices aren't that
revolutionary in the social sense anymore.

> What of information design, designing database schema, logic for an
> application ---- yes, this is engineering but there is a design aspect to
> these tasks that is creative, rigorous and technical...

I would argue that that is a bit of linguistic sophistry. Sure, there is
"design" in everything engineering, I must do my "object design" before I
code it, but the discipline of Design, as it is practiced and as I
understood to what was being originally referred to by Geert, is NOT the
same as 'information design' or 'object design'. These are specific
sub-processes of particular engineering practices. What you do (my
interpretation of it) is assign all creative aspects of engineering to
'design', when engineering (or physics, or sociology, or *anything*) in
and of itself can be creative.


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