Rethinking Information

What was supposed to be a simple quote and link to an article discussing information architecture has turned into something more: a discussion of information architecture, app design, and behavioral overload. Recently, I have been reading a lot about Google Glass. Mind you, I have no interest in the hardware and I have shared a number of links of the past week, many of which have the word disturbing” attached to them due to the concerns of gestural overload and privacy. By attempting to tackle my Instapaper queue this weekend, however, I came across a number of great articles about information architecture, ideas on Google Glass, and overloading existing behavioral gestures.

App Navigation and Information Architecture

Path and Facebook’s mobile left nav flyout pattern is one such experimentation that should be avoided. Mark Kawano calls it the hamburger icon that slides open the basement.” Why call it the basement? Because it’s hidden, dark, there’s a ton of crap in it, and, frankly, it’s scary and no one wants to go down there. Hiding the navigation allows Path to present itself in a more immersive, content-centric way but also tells the user that there’s nothing much else to the app beyond its stream view.

Hamburgers & Basements

Great analogy! The fact is that the extra menus of Android always felt forced to me when I was a full-time Android user. As the article says, these navigation tricks are just lazy information architecture (IA) that belies a larger problem regarding app identity. If the designer is unable to come up with a way to include all necessary workflows into an easy-to-use, discoverable interface, the app has a larger problem than clutter, it has not dealt well with the addition of features over its lifespan.

Google Glass and Information Overload

Meanwhile, the design community continues to discuss the overload of existing behaviors:

The problem with winking to take a picture, or looking at something to select it, or nodding to approve, is that these gestures already have existing, established meaning. Overloading existing behavior with new semantics is bound to create problems.

Overloading Behavior

Google Glass is at the forefront of that discuss due to its inherent need to rethink how we interact with the technology. Aside from talking to the item and having to touch the device itself, the gestures are those that we know and use for other things. In the case of the quote above, it is winking. Lukas Mathis makes a case for technology like Google Glass taking away what makes us human and our understanding of what using technology means to our brains.

In the case of Christian Cantrell’s review of Google Glass, he discusses the activation schemes of Google Glass—looking up 30 degrees activates the screen—and how little kids and shorter people look up too often to be useful as a gesture. Instead he suggests the movement of one’s eye to the Google Glass screen to activate it. However, the issue I have with that idea is the fact that human beings look up to recall information, to communicate to others that they are thinking; if this isn’t a behavioral overload just as discussed above, I don’t know what is. Kyle Baxter and I agree that this would be detrimental to the human race as a whole.

Kyle wrote a recent discussion on the philosophies of Google Glass in addition to Kyle’s excellent comments regarding Google Glass’ intentions with regard to our humanity. I fear, as Kyle does, that we might lose some of the inherent abilities of our brain that make us human should we depend so readily on a technology that is only an eye glance away. We may no longer learn” as we do now, but simply rely on the technology, even worse so than some already do.

You should really read each of the articles and comments that I have shared and linked to get a broader understanding of what Google Glass has to offer, but in particular, I would take a look at Kyle’s thoughts, which include gems such as this one:

Technology, I think, should exist to improve our lives as humans, to magnify the good and minimize the bad, rather than change our nature or experience.

I have written before about the technologies I choose and their ability to simply fit into my life. Technology inherently changes the way we see the world and interact with it. However, learning curves aside, a technology that constantly draws my attention away from the beauties of the world around me is something in which I am simply not interested.

Read, Think, Share, Repeat

The Challenges of 2020

TL;DR: Follow this link.

One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.

My wife and I meet with my home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.

I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.

In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.

These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.

I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:

Thanks to a $10,000 matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our 2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.

KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.

Thank you for your consideration.