Designing future explanations

Sometimes it’s easier to make something than it is to explain what you made. You can implement a new algorithm in a dozen lines of code, but it might take many words and images to explain to somebody else how that code actually works.

It’s particularly difficult when your algorithm is about something in 3D space. Showing how something works in 3D doesn’t always work well on a 2D computer screen.

These days I like to imagine that we are already several years into the future. When we can all put on our lightweight augmented reality glasses, I will just be able to gesture with my hands to walk somebody through a visual explanation of a 3D algorithm.

The 3D diagrams I create will simply float in the air between us. We will be able to look around them just like any 3D object in our world, and we will be able to use our facial expression, hand gestures and body language while we discuss the concepts, just like we always do in face to face conversation.

I know that what I am describing is all still a little ways off, but I’ve already started creating my visual explanations with the assumption that this is how they will soon be seen. I think of it as good practice.

3 Responses to “Designing future explanations”

  1. Julie says:

    I also like thinking of how life unfold in near futures and possible futures… I found the language that forms my ideas about evaluation methods for possible futures from a CHI paper a few years back from a few of my favourite colleagues https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3025658

  2. admin says:

    Great reference — thanks!

  3. Julie Williamson says:

    When I’m presenting about “social acceptability” I always get the question “don’t we just have to wait for society to change?” but it’s not that simple. Designing for a near future is a challenge because the social norms that would govern that future aren’t here yet. It’s like your criticism of Black Mirror: people are reacting with surprise/shock at the future they find themselves in, which is not what would happen if these technologies became part of everyday life. We do the same thing when we evaluate prototypes intended for the future… I haven’t yet figured out a great way to address this!

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