Info-Rituals to Info-Tools

A decade ago, when Informatics was gaining a foothold in the United States, I was an early student new to the field. I’d worked on building software already (see Firetrap, Psychsoft) but I didn’t know what a “gooey” was, and sometimes lost the distinctions between Usability, User Experience, Usability Studies, Experience Design and various prototyping methods. There was no unifying approach to all the methods. Sure we all knew to “put the users first,” but how this worked out in the real world seemed a little squishy when we all also knew that ground-breaking technologists like Steve Jobs often said “The user doesn’t know what she wants until we put it in front of her.” And this made sense when it came to new technology.

On the other hand, we studied case histories when a technology was sent into a community with little regard for that community’s needs or values; and most recently I’ve written about “aesthetic coercion,” when a design intentionally crashes an end-user’s cognitive load and acts in other ways to encourage actions contrary to the end-users’ interests (see “Is It A Mudslide?” Part III). In between innovation, iterations and projects for lesser-than-Apple clients we are asked to call from a variety of tools to assess user needs, workflows and product viability.

Early on I came up with a kind of underlying approach to prototyping and usability testing which relied on the idea of there being universal information rituals, or info-rituals. Mirroring them would be info-tools, certain types of corresponding ways to assess and build products under the rubrik of the Informatik Framework. Lost to time is the unsubtle argument for what to call ourselves as workers in Informatics; I didn’t like “informatician,” so I went with the first historical use of the word, translated into English: informatik.

Below are some .pdfs of those webpages from 2006, with descriptions and illustrations that might help to demonstrate the Informatik Framework of Info-Rituals and Info-Tools. The third item combines everything into 1 illustration and its accompanying .pdf lists some related older Projects. The largest image shows an enlargement of the first Informatik Framework diagram.

01Apr18 v3




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M.F.A. Creative Writer trained in M.S. Human-Computer IxD

Interested in Psychology-based Apps, AI, Generative Chat