[Link] A (not so brief) rant on the future of interactive design

Bret Victor starts from the new Microsoft Office video about our life in 2019 and it goes on an awesome rant against these restricted view of digital interaction in the near future.

In the Microsoft video you can see people collecting information and doing a lot of interesting (but not revolutionaries) things using devices very similar to a smartphone or a tablet and all interactions are done using one finger and the usual current gestures, as swiping.

Bret is instead proposing to have more ambitious visions, using the hands or the entire body for example (“With an entire body at your command, do you seriously think the Future Of Interaction should be a single finger?”).
Making devices where you can feel the material, consistency, instead of seeing “pictures under a glass”.

Hands feel things, and hands manipulate things.

Pictures Under Glass sacrifice all the tactile richness of working with our hands, offering instead a hokey visual facade.

And yet, it’s the star player in every Vision Of The Future.
To me, claiming that Pictures Under Glass is the future of interaction is like claiming that black-and-white is the future of photography. It’s obviously a transitional technology.

What can you do with a Picture Under Glass? You can slide it.

That’s the fundamental gesture in this technology. Sliding a finger along a flat surface.

There is almost nothing in the natural world that we manipulate in this way.

The next time you make a sandwich, pay attention to your hands. Seriously! Notice the myriad little tricks your fingers have for manipulating the ingredients and the utensils and all the other objects involved in this enterprise. Then compare your experience to sliding around Pictures Under Glass.
Are we really going to accept an Interface Of The Future that is less expressive than a sandwich?

Better estimations

The Victorian polymath Francis Galton noticed one day an interesting competition at his village fair:

Francis Galton
Francis Galton

the participants had to guess how much meat could you get from a beef that grazed in front of the crowd. 800 persons participated to the competition but no one guessed the right number (it was 1198 pounds), including several professional butchers.

Galton analyzed all the guesses and found out that their average was 1197 pounds, an error less than 0,1 %. Nobody was able to do better.
It was the year 1906. Galton’s finding remains true now: crowd wisdom beats the one from the experts.

Translating it into effort estimations: when they are coming from all the team members they are very often better than when they are coming from one “expert”.