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UI Is A Conversation

The Cluetrain posited that markets are conversations. And this is coming true through the emergence of the two-way Web. Of course, the Web was designed as read/write from the beginning, but for many years the Web was a one-way street. Commercial interests modeled user interaction on the one-to-many broadcast model.

Now that “user-created content” is all the rage, the “write” part of the Web is suddenly in vogue. The economic model is still the same. Regardless of who creates the content, if an audience forms around it, sell access to that audience to advertisers. More accruately defined audiences create a better targeting opportunities for advertisers.

The User Interface (UI) has been like having a conversation through a translator. You tell it something, it goes away, decodes your input, and then returns an answer or another question. There’s no fluidity, no real conversation. With the emergence of XMLhttpRequest (AJAX) and some other UI technologies — there’s a chance that the UI could become a conversation, a fluid back and forth. To create that fluidity will require new interaction models that are easy for the user to learn. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as an intuitive user interface. Generally that’s what people say when they mean to say “good.”

In the current design and production process for Web applications, who looks after the conversation? Who acts as the host?

Published in economics interaction design web design zettel