“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Interaction Design 101 – The Twitter Client – Starting up

(an experiment in open source design and interaction design education)


What I’m about to start is a huge project. I won’t be doing it alone (at least not for long, 1 way or another). I want to create a series of tutorials that take on the multiple facets that lead to the design of great software. The project is about educating ourselves and each other. Like an Unconference where no one comes to purely consume, everyone who enters this project is a co-teacher, mentor, and student.

What we are here to do is design and prototype (at all levels of fidelity and manner) GREAT software and services for software. But we are also looking to reframe the open source project as a design centric one. We are here to make huge mistakes, get terribly embarrassed, teach each other, and learn from all.

Project Goals:

  1. To create an educational framework for interaction design specifically and all aspects of digital design more generally. Hopefully the framework can be repeated as a long-term and remote capable curriculum.
  2. To be a framework for others to plug-in their educational expertise in topics that I am unable to elaborate on. This is a major requirement as there are definitely facets of this project that I will definitely be recruiting help for.
  3. To e a framework to push my own learning in areas that I am lacking as a designer, as a developer, etc.  And in so doing be a framework for others to fill in their own gaps as well. Being a teacher teaches you one thing so quickly–that you have so much more to learn.

Why twitter

  1. confined and easily understood space
  2. while confined it is cloudware + unproduct + traditional software product all wrapped in one
  3. it covers traditional desktop, iPhone, webkit, mobile (other), widgets (blog, dashboard, google gadgets, sidebar)
  4. there are actually fairly different and exciting contexts of uses and user types (aka personas that can be explored long term)
  5. there is a robust collection of existing tools out there for deconstruction
  6. basic functionality is small but could be built upon and grow complexity over time or through iterations of design & development
  7. there is a large design community and larger developer community already fairly invested in their own use and possibly invested in being involved in this way

Get involved

While the end goal of this project is go all open, the early days, weeks, and probably months are going to need to be more closed. Not opaque from view, but rather we need to create a glass box.

So with that in mind I’m looking for people with interest in the concept for the project, believe in open education, and have something to bring to the project that I don’t have. Here’s the list:

  • Visual design: especially in regards to interactivity
  • Game deign/theory
  • True programming skills: Flex/Flash, iPhone, Java, HTML 5, Databases, APIs, Web Services
  • Service design
  • Business
  • video prototyping
  • visual thinking
  • social theory, especially around social networks

Everyone should consider themselves a creative contributor and remember that one of the goals is related to design-centrism.

To this regard people interested should send me an email (me(at)davemalouf(dot)com). In it should be the following:

  1. explaining what contribution they hope to bring to the project,
  2. how twitter makes a difference to their lives and the people around them,
  3. a vision statement about open source design,
  4. and finally what they most want to learn through this project

The glass around the box

So how will the rest of you benefit from all this?

  1. All participants will be encouraged and expected to blog frequently about this project.
  2. Calls for participation in the form of pure student roles will come up often. Outstanding students will be asked to become full contributors .
  3. Everyone reading this and other blog posts will be encouraged to give feedback to the work as it is presented. The eventual hope for the project as it grows and flourishes is to apply more resources towards better transparent & inclusive systems.  (I didn’t want plain free wiki-ware, so am using socialtext which does not have “public” abilities in its free version.)

Well for now, just put your feedback here in the comment form below and let’s get this party started.

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  • http://brsma.de Sascha Brossmann

    Though I fear that the project might actually be too software/screen centric for creating an educational framework, I’ll see what I can contribute.

    Acknowledged: the ‘atoms’ part I am missing is probably hard to get rolling in a pure virtual space. (And there might be already enough challenge in here.)

  • dave

    hi Sascha,
    I don’t see this is a one stop masters project, so your assertion is correct. I’m focussing on the aspect of Interaction Design–software–that I believe is foundational in our understanding. It is because of software that we even have an understanding that there even is interaction design in everything around around us.

    It’s like what Moggridge said in his interview in Objectified, (paraphrasing), “I opened up this [beautiful] laptop I created and I couldn’t use it.” It is not about the marriage of physical and virtual, but just the existence behind the screen that is the 80% of what we need to master.

    There is a richness just in this space that regardless of your end goal of understanding, you HAVE to know this piece. So let’s start here!


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