Information Interaction Design: A Unified Field Theory of Design

Nathan Shedroff, vivid publishing, inc., 220 Sansome Street, Fifth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University October 22, 1993


Information Interaction Design is the art of effectively organizing, managing and communicating an interface, product, or system's informational attributes. It is at the core of all design and communication (graphic design, interface design, interaction design, product design, software design, etc.) and ties all of these disciplines together. Information Interaction Design emphasizes structures as opposed to representations and styles. It allows good communication (both verbal and visual) to be meaningful and effective no matter what medium employed. These issues are becoming more critical as communication becomes more complex in the Information Age. It should be stressed that this is a working theory of design and by no means finished or complete -- or even necessarily correct.

Because of the time limits, I will cover the three basic areas that intersect to form this unified design model: Interaction Design, Information Design, and Sensorial Design. I will describe the domain of each area with examples and leave a lot of time for questions and commentary from the audience.


Nathan Shedroff, is currently Creative Director and a co-founder of vivid publishing, inc., an information products company that creates projects in both electronic and print media. He has contributed to more than 30 print products and over 30 electronic products. He was a Senior Information Designer at TheUnderstandingBusiness in San Francisco. Before that, he earned a degree in Industrial Design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.

Print projects: He co-authored Understanding Computers, a beginner's guide to computers, now in it's second printing. He designed and wrote portions of Demystifying Multimedia, a new book describing the opportunities and process of creating multimedia from the developer's perspective. He designed and produced the best-selling Danny Goodman's Macintosh Handbook. He contributed to Information Anxiety, Richard Saul Wurman's landmark book on the information revolution as well as many other titles. He is currently authoring a series of books about the Information Age.

Electronic projects: He designed the visual interface and contributed to the interaction design of Voices of the 30's, an educational CD-ROM product from WINGS for Learning as well as prototypes for Paramount's New Media Kitchen and Microsoft. He is responsible for the interface, interaction, and user model of several new electronic workbooks from Regis Touch Software. He is also responsible for the interface and interaction of an upcoming consumer mapping product from ETAK and Sony Corp. In addition, he has contributed to the interface and system design of major applications on the NeXT platform.


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