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Saturday, 27 August 2005

Agathon.

There's been a few whispers around the traps about how software might be able to show wear the more you use it, just like your favourite pair of jeans. It's a lovely idea - familiarity, personality, individuality in your software. Not just my list of stuff that no-one else is looking at, but buttons that are "easier to press".

I'm not sure if i'd want software I use to actually wear down so it breaks like a fan belt, as much as evolve as my understanding of the system does.
A review of agathonic designs suggests that interactions between the user and object compel a response from the object in the form of physical changes. The interaction contains both the information and the energy required to make those changes. Looking closely at the things we interact with may tell us which objects can benefit from agathonic redesign...

...In most cases a designer expects a user to adapt to the object. In agathonic design, the object changes and adapts to the user. Of course, the user is probably also adapting to the object. We now have the possibility of both user and object adapting to each other, creating a system with a higher level of functionality. (From Design that improves with use (PDF) by Michael Helms, in Ambidextrous Magazine.)

What if a system's response was to truly personalise the UI based on how, why and when people use various workflows? Would that be useful? Is it a good way to release complexity as it's required? I think so.

(And, i'm not just talking about providing useful blank slates, although they are really great for introducing people to how the site might look to them after a certain level of participation. I'm not sure how you can design blank slates with enough variety to indicate what *different* avenues of participation might look like.)

(Turns out Agathon was a tragic Athenian.)
Posted at 12:23 am
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