Government Shutdown 2013 – Website Announcements

Updated 10/17/13: After 16 days, the Congress has stopped the shutdown before the country goes into default on the 17th day.  Shutdown: October 1 – 16, 2013.


The Congress of the United States shut down the government on October 1, 2013 over the new Health Care law.   On that day , I took a picture of the sign in front of the Smithsonian’s Native American Museum at Bowling Green.

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I decided to take a look at the website representations of the shutdown.  How are they using language to describe the shutdown?  What are the variations in the terminology?  What were the design choices?  What were the functionality choices?  Did they close the website completely (no content but the shutdown information) or did they simply provided an announcement?  These questions and more lead me to take screenshots of how governmental organizations are communicating the shutdown on their websites. Continue reading

Pet Peeves: IE9 Favorites

If you consider yourself a designer in any sense of the word, then you probably see design solutions that just gets on your last nerves.

Today, I installed IE 9, which I’ve been avoiding for a little while.  I didn’t want to update but I needed to for the sake of my website.  I could have waited until Microsoft institutes their automatic browser updates in January 2012, but I figure what the heck, I can test out the new version now.  The first thing you notice is that web browsers are starting to look the same, particularly the minimalist design with tabs.  It’s great to try to get more screen real estate and to get rid of unnecessary crap, but some things are being hidden in secret menus.

Anyhow, IE9 has changed the favorite icon from star and words to just a star and moved it from the left of the screen to the right of the screen.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  It seems to make sense and now it looks like Chrome and Firefox which would suggest some consistency.  When you click the star, the favorite menu appears.

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Interaction Design in the Wild

Rogers, Y. (2011). Interaction design gone wild: striving for wild theory. Interactions, 18(4), 58-62.

Yvonne Rodger’s article “Interaction design gone wild: striving for wild theory,” begins to touch on the inherent problem of theory and practice.  HCI theory draws from many domains, but no one theory maps completely or produces exact results.  Thus, there is a break-down between what is theorized and what is practiced.  One problem which the article is trying to address is the fact that much of theory is based on controlled lab experiments, which are good for some things but not everything.  The controlled lab experiments can test very specific things, but what is missing from the theoretical landscape is what happens in the real world, or as researchers like to say, “in the wild.”   The article calls for researchers to start doing research “in the wild” and to develop “wild theories.”  It is a noble request and there is possibility that it will occur.

My call is for there to be another phrase rather than “in the wild” for research that occurs under real conditions in real world situations with real world constraints.  The “in the wild” phrase really is coming out of ethnographic research where the “in the wild” was the “other.”  The “wild” also speaks to the “otherness” of the real world as compared to the lab.  The lab represents the “not wild” world whereas the non-lab world is represented by “wild.”  The wild means there are less researcher inflicted constraints and thus, “wild” refers to the researcher’s perspective of the context.  If we truly want to do interaction design for the world in which it will exist, then we need not think of that world as a form of “other,” apart from oneself and one’s world.  Designing for the everyday world and life mean doing research, implementation, evaluation, theory, and all that comes with it, in that world for that life.

Real world also has it’s problems as a terminology but at least it’s not separating the world into otherness.  There’s enough of that already happening in the world.  We really don’t need any more theories or conversations labeled “wild.”  Let’s call it what it is rather than what it is not.