The Anti-ergonomy of Instruments of Interaction

Jaime Teevan Adrian Freed, UC Berkeley Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT)


Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University January 29, 2010
, 12:50pm, Gates B01

This talk will be evenly split between a review of my past user interface work and an introduction to the foundation of newer ongoing work on cultural resonance of instruments of interaction. I will share elements from my previous work on musical user interfaces that are relevant to broader human interaction problems. Enthusiasts of multitouch may be surprised to learn of its rich history which I trace back to the late nineteenth century (for electronic implementations) and earlier in acoustic musical instruments.

Working on a comprehensive theory of cultural resonance of interaction technologies I have discovered an disturbingly large number of important interfaces that are deliberately anti-ergonomic. I will illustrate this with a critical look at some popular musical instruments and asocial media devices such as the walkman, iPod, and iPhone.


Adrian Freed is Research Director of UC Berkeley's Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT) and he leads the Guitar and chordophone Innovation Group (GIG) there. He has pioneered many new applications of mathematics, electronics and computer science to audio, music and media production tools including the earliest Graphical User Interfaces for digital sound editing, mixing and processing. His recent work is centered around sharing new techniques for rapid prototyping interactive devices employing electrotextiles and other emerging materials.

The talks are open to the public. They are in the Gates Building, Room B01 in the basement. The nearest public parking is in the structure at Campus Drive and Roth Way.

View this talk on line at CS547 on Stanford OnLine.

Titles and abstracts for previous years are available by year and by speaker.