Spinning yarns through computer history with a classic design conjurer.
(This very humorous and wonderful conversation had a lot more going on - but my phone started to run out of batteries, so I had to rush around and missed some of the stories. And some stories went by too quickly to write! Hope to hear more from her.)
(About moving to the U.S.) “They don’t tell you that it’s snowy misery.”
“Everything I do is shocking.”
While working on aircraft systems (I think?) she asked a coworker about ‘soft targets’. “What do you mean?” “Well - what are they - what’s a soft target?” “It’s a person.” She thought it was a tree.
She refers to stereographic viewers with columnated lenses. A predecessor to Oculus.
“I played on a band on a boat as well. […] Texans are super-great. Love them.”
“Ma’am - can I ask you a question?” “Sure.” “Why ya here?” “I’m here doing this study.” (She’s 24.) “Ma’am… you’re here for visual relief.” (His absurd way of admiring her as she worked…)
The Mac SE. A black-and-white computer that was “6in-by-6in – the smallest computer I’d ever seen”. Post-Lisa, but a Mac. A one-button mouse.
By her estimation: “this company isn’t going to go anywhere - that computer doesn’t do anything!” Just writing and numeric stuff.
“Can you tell the Quicktime story?” “No! Because it’s longer! You just can’t tell a Quicktime story!”
Akamai was run by PhD mathematicians. “I felt like a duck out of water.” They didn’t know how to communicate. She wanted to start visualizing ‘millions’ and ‘billions’.
“Cortana’s just randomly started to talking to me… And the first thing she’s just said is ‘I’m sorry.’ Which is GOOD.”
“When did you last sit down with a veteran of your industry? Silicon Valley has become so fast and young.” She points out that so many politicians
A big problem is “not focusing on a breadth of users, rather than just yourself.”
“The trust issue is horrible.” (Trust for devices.)
A very cool discussion about technology for over-70s.
“Sorry - I interrupted you drinking water…” “I’m actually drinking Scotch, man!”
When asked about a favorite interface, it was a beadbox interface - with translucent beads and a light passing through them. It made sounds with the beads - of varying pitch and “density”. She envisioned it as a group activity - something to play with others.
Interesting that what killed the product was the inability to demo it in an electronics store - bc of the need to demo the product in a store where you can’t quite hear perhaps. And people walk by it and don’t know what it is.
“Why doesn’t the font size get bigger when I move away? […] As if I wasn’t there. But goddammit - it knows I’m there.” (May-li then chimed in about the irritation of phone orientation when you lie down on your side.)
“It’s an AI! Christ! Quick - buy it!”
“Icons are stupid - you don’t want to do that… Designers should be doing interesting, difficult problems.”
“Please don’t design t-shirts. Or you’ll be doing that for the next few years. […] We don’t want to diminish the value of design down to t-shirt logos.”
Moving from a “window” computer to a “mirror” computer. She sees this - “reflecting” us as a big step forward. To her experiential computing (VR) can’t take off until you can feel the “edge” - a bump in the wall or in the floor - without any gear. (Or feeling any gear? You feel the bump bc you don’t feel the gear? Holodeck thoughts…)
“Boring men… wearing… not even black t-shirts… Brooks Brother shirts or something…”
“Another thing we worked a lot on at Ford is: pentagrams. You can fit a lot into pentagrams.”