Category Archives: Past

The Humane Interface

In 1993 Jef Raskin wrote the article Down With GUIs! in which he decried the state of user interfaces. He started with a bang: “Bluntly: Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) are not human-compatible. As long as we hang on to interfaces as we now know them, computers will remain inherently frustrating, upsetting, and stressful.” And his… Read More

Happy Birthday Media Lab!

Today, the MIT Media Lab starts its big 25th anniversary bash. And I’m sad that I’m missing the event. But the next best thing to being there is reminiscing, right? Twenty years ago, when I was a student there, the Lab was celebrating its 5th anniversary. As part of the schwag for the party, the… Read More

Musical CD-ROMs

In the mid 90’s there was a mini-boom for pop-music CD-ROMs. Unlike early titles from Voyager, which tended towards intellectual examinations of classical symphonies, these were moody, artistic, experiences. Strongly influenced by Myst, they let users move through virtual worlds, try to solve puzzles, and unlock special content. Their narratives may have been frustrating and… Read More

Space: 1999

When I was a kid I loved watching the 1970’s tv show Space: 1999. For some reason it was only on around 11 or 12 at night, and so I had to stay up late, which gave watching it a kind of other-worldly experience. A few months ago Sean Adams did a great post on… Read More

MoodLogic Magnet Browser

There’s no reason I can’t talk about my own projects on this blog, right? Just keep in mind that this story starts in 1999, when the web was mostly just html pages, some Director/Shockwave, a little Flash, and mostly dial-up modems. The social web didn’t yet exist. Napster was being sued by everyone. And the… Read More

Jodi (1999) may be best known for their web-based artworks, but I recently found these images and thought they’d be interesting to share. They’re from a Mac-based project done some time between 1998 and 1999. Much like how full-bleed photos on early Quokka websites caused a kind of freak-out when people saw them,’s early work… Read More

Rosemarie Fiore

Take a look at these photographs by Rosemarie Fiore. Each one takes a video game and captures one gameplay as a single exposure. It’s a fascinating way of looking at the overall mood of an interactive experience. Plus, they’re beautiful! The photos are all from 80’s games — played on Atari, Centuri, and Taito platforms. It’s interesting… Read More

Interview: Erik Loyer

Back in 1998, when I first saw The Lair of the Marrow Monkey I was totally taken in. In an era of CD-ROMs which sequenced the user through mostly static screens, or of experimental works with seemingly random or chaotic interactions, Lair‘s merger of storytelling with focused interactivity was really special. And then, three years… Read More

Pretty Loaded

With the fashion for full Flash websites slowly fading into history (or is it just that websites load faster now?), I was excited to discover Pretty Loaded. Launched in January 2009, the site is an archive, or museum, of one of the artifacts of those big Flash sites… the preloader, or “loading” screen. Once upon… Read More

Urban Feedback

I remember a CD-ROM project from the 90s that was unlike almost else appearing at the time. An ambient fluid flow of images and film, mixed with a unusual collection of audio, it created the feeling of moving through an urban environment. You had only the vaguest feeling of control of it all — almost… Read More

The Greatest Program Ever Written

Today, the source code to MacPaint was officially donated to the Computer History Museum and made available to the public. MacPaint was declared as “the best program ever written” at an event celebrating the Macintosh’s 20th anniversary, by Stanford University computer science professor Don Knuth. Written by Bill Atkinson, MacPaint was beautifully simple, like much… Read More

Subservient Old Spice Man

Wow that was fast. Yesterday marked the end of a remarkable Old Spice viral Internet campaign. Over the course of just two days, July 13 and 14, Wieden+Kennedy created about 185 YouTube videos as responses to queries and posts on Twitter for the Old Spice man. It was a fascinating take on interactivity. The team… Read More

Saturn Green Line at NextFest

Way back in 2006, at the Wired NextFest, Saturn sponsored a “green” exhibit, highlighting their hybrid technology. It was a 4,000 square-foot installation featuring a life-sized, interactive holographic people, CAD projections onto vehicles, and a interactive/reactive wall with user-generated content. I first learned of the project when I was judging the Communication Arts 2007 Interactive… Read More

Reactive Books

All of John Maeda‘s work is amazing and inspiring, but I find his series of Reactive Books to be among the most engaging and thought-provoking. Created between 1994 and 1999, each book explored the use of a different input: microphone, mouse, time, keyboard, and video. At a time when interactive media was trying to be… Read More