Kinesthetic Thinking: Interaction Design without Programming

Dag Svanæs, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University January 23, 1998


Designers of computer-based material are currently forced by the available design tools to express interactivity with concepts derived from the logical-mathematical paradigm of computer science. This includes most "Visual Programming" systems. For designers without a training as programmers this represents a barrier. Three psychological experiments are presented which indicate that it is possible to express interactive behaviour in a more direct fashion by letting the designers compose software from interaction elements with built-in behaviour.

The resulting "kinesthetic thinking" of the software designers shows similarities with visual and musical thinking. As an illustration, a design tool is presented, based on a pixel-level agent architecture.

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Dag Svanæs teaches in the Dept. of Computer and Information Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. His interests are in human-computer interaction, object-oriented design and programming and their intersection in end-user programming. He is currently on sabbatical at Stanford, participating in the teaching of CS247a (Human Computer Interaction Design) and CS378 (Phenomenological Foundations of Cognition, Computation, and Language).


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