Information Overload @ UX Cocktail Hour

I love those talks where you are first blown away by the sheer brilliance of the subject (and the speaker), then get that feeling “it’s so obvious, how could I not have seen that?“. Those are the best. It’s the only occassion where you walk out feeling so incredibly dumb, yet with a big smile on your face.

Information Overload presentation at UX Cocktail Hour AmsterdamLast night at UX Cocktail Hour I attended a presentation by Karl Fast, professor User Experience Design at Kent State University. His talk on the opportunity of information overload (io) was such an experience.

Extensive research in people playing Tetris showed that players make extra moves for every block they need to fit. Why do people make extra rotations and movements in Tetris? To check their next move before sticking to it.

The same goes for chess, where even especially the best players move their piece to a new position but don’t release it before checking whether it’s a good move. They change the world to determine if they should change the world.

Apart from the fact that it was refreshing for a change not to hear someone talk about how bad io is but instead embracing it, it also hit home within the local UX community. At least it did with me. We spend so much time assisting people to make the perfect move, while they make all kinds of other -seemingly random- moves. Even just to check if they are right.

Value in making the wrong move

There is value in making the wrong move. Just as there is value in having a board cluttered with sticky notes. There is value in touch. Which makes me wonder, can an online project management tool ever beat three people standing around a whiteboard? Of course it has additional benefits, such as keeping track forever and sharing with people who are not in the same room. But at its essential task, sorting information and providing overview, nothing beats the good old whiteboard.

The ever increasing blur between virtual and actual

It’s an interesting time. On the one hand we have apps mimicking the real world, look at the sticky notes in Trello for example. Yet at the same time we have the real world mimicking the virtual world, look at digital whiteboards for example. Entire walls are being converted into touch screens.

Somewhere in between is the sweet spot, the place where the line between what’s real and what’s virtual has become so incredibly thin that the virtual world is a full extension to the real world, and vice versa.

Information Overload presentation at UX Cocktail Hour Amsterdam

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