Exocog: A case study of a new genre in storytelling

Exocog was an investigation into interactive fiction, in which a story was conveyed by gradually unveiling a carefully-designed collection of e-mail, websites, and other Internet content. "Readers" followed the story by tracking and integrating changes across the sites and messages, and sharing their beliefs about the story's development with other readers. In addition to being worthy of study as a dramatically different form of collective human-computer interaction, these kinds of immersive events can be valuable tools for product marketing and audience building.

IEEE Internet Computing: The Internet experience

I wrote a column for IEEE Internet Computing for a time, focusing on user experience issues. Written from the perspective of a user experience guy talking to research and product development people whose expertise, by and large, is not in user experience, these columns point out new developments in the user experience world that are opening up new opportunities for research and products, and address technology issues that could be helped by thinking more carefully about user experience.

Immersion Museum: Experiments in interactive marketing

The Immersion Museum was an ongoing writing project in which I collected examples of immersive websites — sites that create a fictional world of people, places, and events and use this world as the foundation for storytelling or gameplay. Together, these articles offer a broad perspective on many of the techniques that have been used in immersive sites and show some concrete examples of their commercial use.

FutureComm: An experiment in integrated messaging

FutureComm is a user interface design prototype of a future Internet and telephony communication suite, done to jump-start a telecom company's thinking about future versions of a consumer Internet service. It provides an integrated, web-based interface to e-mail, voice mail, instant messaging, calendar and address book tools, remote file access, search, and customer registration; its unified design language emphasizes the integrated nature of its communication tools.

User interface evaluation in the real world

An analysis of four techniques for evaluating the usability of a system, with recommendations for how and when these techniques can best be applied.

Apple Data Detectors: Collaborative, programmable intelligent agents

Apple Data Detectors was designed in response to a set of ethnographic studies that identified an important class of problems that people have when doing their everyday work with computers. Documents frequently contain "triggers" for the next steps in work activities: an e-mail message will contain a URL for a web page, which will contain a phone number, and so on. Our goal was to provide a simple interface that would let the user carry out these steps with as little effort as possible....

From documents to objects: An overview of LiveDoc

LiveDoc is an experiment in taking the ideas from Apple Data Detectors one step further: to a human interface that automatically finds and offers access to the useful information in user documents directly within those documents, and to an architecture that expands ADD's analytical powers and that makes it easy for developers to add these capabilities to their applications.

Drop Zones: An extension to LiveDoc

Drop Zones carries LiveDoc forward to an architecture that captures the meanings of the discovered information structures and allows "assistants" to intelligently operate on structures or collections of structures. It also extends the LiveDoc user experience, by making the bits of discovered information (and the interaction with Drop Zones assistants) a matter of direct manipulation.

Twinkling lights and nested loops: Distributed problem solving and spreadsheet development

One in a series of papers looking at spreadsheets from a broad interactive perspective. Here. we use ethnographic techniques to observe how collaboration works during spreadsheet development, and how the conceptual framework of spreadsheets — the tabular form, the constrained programming devices — makes this collaboration possible.

The spreadsheet interface: A basis for end-user programming

More on spreadsheets; here we focus on the spreadsheet interface, and note how the constraints inherent in that interface allow spreadsheets to be created by people outside the usual "programmer" community.

An ethnographic study of distributed problem solving in spreadsheet development

Further details on the collaborative development of spreadsheets, including observations of how the informal development of spreadsheets fits into the more structured corporate world, and how the spreadsheet framework supports differences in domain expertise during development.

(really) Interactive TV

A (revised) tech report from Apple, outlining what interactive TV could be once we rid ourselves of the belief that games, video on demand, and on-line shopping will drive the adoption of advanced TV services in the home. This was written several years ago, but it anticipates the recent evolution in interactive TV services towards a tight integration of TV with carefully-designed access to the information and communications services of the Internet.

Metacontent and networked communities

Another tech report from Apple, outlining how the web experience could be greatly enhanced by the inclusion of semantic information about the content of web pages inside the web pages themselves. (This predates, but is quite consistent, with the recent developments around XML.) Several applications of this approach are described, including a rather different consumer Internet service.

Arguments against general-purpose interfaces: The case for specialization

A paper from the rather distant past (1986), but of current importance (and still of considerable interest to me). Don Norman and I discuss the usability problems inherent in large, general-purpose applications and devices, and the advantages of specialized devices targeted to meet the needs of a particular task. A commonplace idea now, but not then.