Putting Thought Into Things

Oliver Reichenstein:

What happens when we create an interface: one mind builds a way for other minds to interact with a thing. To lay the foundation of human-machine interaction you need to put thought into things and that requires that you put things into thought. This is why most interfaces suck, and most interfaces will continue to suck. No model, method, or tool will change that. Thinking is painful.

And there is no best practice, no tip or technique to sort thoughts, to build knowledge systems, and to structure human interaction except for a curious, conscious, vivid mind, guided by a strong will, that resists the temptation to fall back onto fast-thought stereotypes.

This is one of the things I find to be the most difficult about teaching. It’s one thing to try to convey a reasonably identifiable skill to someone else: show them how you do it, explain what’s going on as you work, let them try, give them feedback, have them continue to practice.1

And there is no best practice, no tip or technique to sort thoughts, to build knowledge systems, and to structure human interaction except for a curious, conscious, vivid mind, guided by a strong will, that resists the temptation to fall back onto fast-thought stereotypes. How do we go about teaching those things?


  1. Yes, I realize even this is a simplification, and I certainly don’t mean to belittle the work of teaching skills. But there’s often a higher level of understanding that I hope my students work toward. Which leads to my first guess on this issue: start with the basic and the relatable to make a foundation, then question those basics and so build complexity from there.