|Bill Moggridge (Wikipedia)|
By Gerd Waloszek, SAP User Experience, SAP AG – March 22, 2007; updated: October 4, 2012
This review is a personal review of Bill Moggridge's book Designing Interactions.
Moggridge (1943-2012) was a cofounder of IDEO, a firm that helps companies
innovate through the design of products, services, environments, and digital
experiences. After training in industrial design in London, Bill's first professional
experience was in the USA. He returned to London to found his own company,
Moggridge Associates, building a product design and development company with
clients worldwide, and joining David Kelley and Mike Nuttall to form IDEO in
1991. Bill's first interest is to design products for people to use with satisfaction
and enjoyment. In 1980 he designed the first ever laptop computer, the GRiD
Compass. During the next few years he pioneered user interface design as a
discipline to be an integrated part of product development, and coined the
name Interaction Design. He has developed a process for the strategic use of
design for innovation, which helps companies to understand and evaluate opportunities
for new product development.
(From www.stanford.edu, adapted)
When I received Bill Moggridge's book Designing Interactions, a book about interaction design and the evolution of graphical user interfaces, I immediately thought, "Wow! Will I ever manage to get through that book," considering that I had to read quite a few other books as well. Moggridge's book boasts more than 760 pages and at nearly 2300g – according to our kitchen scales – is not really a pocket-sized book to carry with you. So, I plowed my way through the book and, having arrived at page 464 of 735 (pure text), decided to start with the review – to ensure that it would not transcend into never-never land. Since then, I have progressed further and already scanned the remainder of the book. As far as I could see, the remaining pages were certainly very interesting – they take you into the future of interaction design.
Moggridge's book features more than 40 interviews with people who were influential in the development of modern user interfaces, arranged into ten chapters, or topics. The book is accompanied by a DVD, which contains 2-3 minute video clips showing segments of these interviews. Those interviewed include Doug Engelbart, Stuart Card, Bill Atkinson, Bert Keely, David Liddle, David Kelley, Brenda Laurel, Terry Winograd, Hiroshi Ishii, Anthohy Dunne, and Steve Rogers (who recently gave a presentation at SAP). I have only listed these names because they were familiar to me before I read the book, so, it's definitely an arbitrary selection.
Figure 1: Three computer "classics" – the Xerox Alto (top left), the Xerox Star (top right), and the Apple Lisa (bottom) (photos see below)
The book is not just a collection of "typical" question-and-answer interviews. Instead, Moggridge provides a framework for each chapter as well as for the interviews themselves, into which he blends longer quotes from the interviews. This probably makes his book easier to read in the long run and also provides a more consistent picture of the "story."
Let me provide you with a short and incomplete overview of the book's topics and chapters:
The book closes with notes for the different chapters, including interview dates.
When I showed Moggridge's book to a young colleague, telling her that the book comprises "all the stories from the beginning of graphical user interfaces until today" she did not share my enthusiasm about the book. Maybe, it's the difference in generations that accounted for the discrepancy. I have to admit that my "computer career" started long before the Xerox Star. In a way, the days of the first personal computers were somewhat like my adolescence with computers. There is no questioning that I like to look back and recall how all that started, learn about the people who were involved. Some of the names and faces were already familiar to me, others were new. I still remember the crowds around the Apple booth at the Hanover fair, when they demonstrated the new Lisa. "Lisa? Never heard of it" is the usual reaction of younger colleagues when I talk about this revolutionary computer. But this is not the place for complaining. In general, the history of computers may be or more interest to those people who took part in the evolution of computers or at least greater parts of it. But I would have been wrong if I had concluded that my above-mentioned colleague was not interested in the book. She was, however, much more attracted by the chapters on design, probably because she has as an education in design.
Figure 2: Four pioneers of the GUI – Doug Engelbart, Stuart Card, Tim Mott, Larry Tesler (from left to right; from book Website)
A few words on the DVD. While I was skeptical in the beginning, I found the DVD, which shows short snippets from the interviews, very exciting. As the interviews date back up to 2001 – with the most of them taken between 2003 and 2004, you may find that some of the interviewees may still have black hair in the interviews, but are gray now.
This is definitely not a book to lend to other people – you will never get it back. Firstly, because it is so voluminous – it will take most people years to finish reading it. Secondly, as it is such a wonderful book, with all the pictures of old devices, their creators, and the videos, most people would probably prefer to keep it. So, you better rush out and get your own copy to dig into the history, as well as into the present and future trends of your own professional field – and probably your obsession, too.
By the way, by the end of March, Bill Moggridge and a few of his interviewees will appear in Potsdam, Germany, at the "Innovationsforum Interaktionsdesign" (innovation forum for interaction design). I am eagerly awaiting to see them live and "in person" and to listen to their presentations. In addition, as I already mentioned, I recently was able to attend a presentation by Steve Rogers at SAP in Walldorf, Germany.