tools for enchantment

kathy sierra, getting the love from the sxsw audience.

what did/do you want to be really, really good at? and never quite made it.  (me? playing the viola. I wanted to be good, but never put in the time.)

why are you here? (if building stuff that theoretically makes f2f unneccessary)

to make better apps, compensate for missing human-ness.

secret answer c: “I kick ass!” okay, having people talk to their neighbor is pretty damn cool. (“I love my house.” “I made enough money to retire.” “I got a stereo after saving for it.”)

The “high-res user experience” – if you know more about music, you get more out of it. (yeah.) tantek look at the windows visualizing them as a climber. (or as an architect, or as a lego person, or an urban planner)

neurogenesis. neuroplasticity. I’ve read (where?!) that the effect of the new anti-depression medications (SSRIs, et al) is that it increases neurogenesis. monkeys needed a richer environment to get neurogenesis when learning; I’m glad I have a big window right next to my desk.

not about natural talent; a talent for practicing. why I got good at writing, and not at playing the viola. it was (is?!) fun to “practice” writing, music not so much.

one of her cute little graphs. getting over the suck threshold, and then again over the kicking ass threshold.

what do you help your users kick ass at?

getting the brain interested.

“it takes 2 minutes for the lights to turn on?!” and there they go.

1. use telepathy. more monkeys with electrodes. mirror neurons: inferring expressions. have to see people when you do usability testing. yes. non-consious; a simulation running in yr own brain. (also, important to take expressions with you when explaining results! use their tone of voice, imitate (not facetiously) their faces.) the resolution of the simulation depends on what you already know. getting better by just thinking about it. (not a lot, but some.) and seeing the simulation from your POV, not outside of yourself.

2. serendipity. pattern-finding machines (that would be us). the psychic shuffle. “just what I needed!” just the right level of randomness.

3. dog-ears principle. iphone scroll with bounce at the end! tests with animation, subtle additional real-world physics. “the ears follow the head” the pant leg moves separately from the leg.

4. create joy. learning through joy/play. amy jo kim; liz danzico.

5. inspire first-person language. “what can I do to make my users talk about themselves instead of the product?” (oh, reminder: get good documentation for user side of online banking.)

6. “t-shirt first development” “we’ve talked about this before” — I’m mildly annoying at the assumption that we were all at some prior talk. in some cases, only announce to other people, like the guy at work who occasional wears the red stapler shirt. “for god’s sake make a women’s fitted tshirt!”

7. april fool’s joke “the emo programmer” easter eggs smile in the mind.

8. tools for evangelizing. re: twitter “I’m coming around…all the bad things I said are still true, but there is something to it.” video: twitter in plain english. “I can explain it to people!” less an issue of turning users into advertising, but giving people a way to explain this “totally lame waste of time”

9. You are a… something about eyeballs. “I’m seeing now what a deer would see as it’s about to be eaten” mocking the audience! “you’re still naked predators…but now you’re all cute fluffy animals” (also, guy next to me is at, sounds interesting) stage fright type fear is a chemical reaction, same with stress and nobody kicks ass when they’re under stress. “those who stopped & were thoughtful about it got eaten” stress eraser turns getting unstressed into a videogame. perky front row….

10. exercise the brain. but the best is physical exercise. (physicsdiet, daily plate, we endure, etc.) she shows the nike+. help improve their body. (or at least, don’t hurt them!)

11. give them superpowers quickly. “user must do something cool within 30 minutes” I would love to see the intranet be like that!!!!!

13. huh? I missed the title because I was boggled by the numbering. do experts know more? some weird example with chess: massive number of patterns that they know. learning patterns. bruce wilcox. got to be 5th level black belt in go while trying to write a software program to play go. “patterns that will help you kick ass”

14. skipping like crazy, because apparently we all saw this last year. grrrr. something about emotion? I need that slide to explain something. “oops” vs “bastards!” how did they feel about the confusion?

15. help with reinvestment of mental resources into new problems. the expert keeps adding boxes to get good at. (this is what I LOVE about web design.) siggy magnusson, silverstripe (did I look at that before?) also, everything I know about computers comes from 1 semester of “computers” in high school. focus: all of your attention” or die. attention offsets — partial attention. like carbon offsets? don’t assume that it doesn’t have any consequence. twitter-sponsored meditation retreat? monk laptop “we’re totally screwed”

16. again, jumped past the slide title. user as hero. make them a mentor earlier “getting a sidekick” no dumb questions. but also, no dumb answers. start answering questions earlier. yes! (okay, now I’m getting ideas for intranet.) help people ask and answer good questions.

17. do not insist on “inclusivity” jargon is awesome! a shortcut that unpacks a bunch at once.

18. practice seductive opacity. brains love mystery. (well, maybe not so much with their money.) “it’s not secrecy — it’s theatre” oy. diane ackerman “deep play” (book) (oooh, idea: the dull story-problem section, turn it into a story.) the ups guy as sex symbol. unboxing? like a strip-tease. something physical.

19. atoms are not old skool. etsy, make. handmade 2.0; not “boomer nostalgia”, a bit of indie cred. nice 3d image of that map of how nerves map to the brain. oh, those silly ambient things. nabataz. (didn’t ralph get & dis-assemble one?) petted rabbits lowered their cholesterol. (lots of research about old people & pets.)

19.5: be like this guy (the surprise visitor): (she says good writeup at brian soliz(sp?).com) Gary (I missed the last name) the “Sideways” slide: high-resolution wine experience. “Yes, it is that obnoxious.” (?) first-person language in the forums “here’s how it feels to me” asking him how to have a higher-res wine experience. “most people in the wine industry are douchebags; wine is fundamentally broken in america” 1) try different stuff. 2) respect your own palate. (not someone else’s) if you love it, love it. okay, wow, that guy is quite energetic. making the viewers entertaining, bringing them into it.

was there a 20? okay, that was fun. she’s a good speaker.

One Reply to “tools for enchantment”

  1. Thank you so much for this write-up, Elaine (and for attending the session). I love hearing that it triggered some ideas for you. And it was good feedback for me to hear that you (and others) were annoyed by my assumption that, “you’ve already heard all this…” I had just come back from two other conferences where I *asked* in advance and 90% of the audience raised their hands that they’d seen my previous talk, and given that I’d spoke at the two previous SXSWi’s, I assumed. Looking at it now, I’m sure I could have done something better to address that — or simply not included the parts where I felt I had to skip through that way for the benefit of people who’d seen those parts before.

    I think I did 19.5 of the “ways” : )

    Bringing up Gary was a very last-moment decision for me, and I’m now horrified to realize I didn’t even introduce him! I’m thrilled to read your note here about “making the viewers entertaining”, though, because I think that’s one of the most important–and overlooked–aspects of Gary’s (and others) success.


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