Now this this exciting. Scifiinterface.com’s first guest review begins this week! That’s right, someone took a look at the terrifying Contribute! page, and stepped up to the sci-fi plate! So with no further ado, let me introduce Clayton Beese, and share his answers to a few questions I posed to him.
Hi there. Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your name, where are you from, how do you spend your time?
Hi! I’m Clayton Beese, a User Experience designer from Overland Park, Kansas, and I’m someone who is drawn to the idea of storytelling as a very basic human activity. Outside of work I bike, I’m an amateur writer, I am usually the designated photographer on family trips, and I like taking random classes in things like rock climbing, blacksmithing, and Tai Chi to see what they’re like. Science fiction has always captured my interest because it asks questions about our needs as people, and what we want to see out of our future.
What are some of your favorite sci-fi interfaces (Other than in Wall-E)? (And why.)
Iron Man: Tony Stark has managed to create an interface that tracks his eye focus, his conversational commands, and his gestures perfectly, and he has mastered their use. I think it’s one of the biggest gaps in current gesture technology, in that they’re only tracking one piece of cognition that their user is working with. By just capturing the motion of a person’s arms the interface is missing out on eye focus, which is a huge hint as to what the user actually wants to work with; and without being able to capture the random vocal thoughts that seep out, the interface is lacking context to add richness to the choices of gesture commands.
The new Battlestar Galactica: The show got to play with two completely different technology aesthetics. The Galactica is a brutalist machine, meant to take a beating and come out the other side still working. It has redundant systems, physical hardware everywhere it can, and a lived-in quality that says those systems are well used. The Galactica isn’t the most efficient, but it gets across its needs. The Cylon ships are the complete opposite. They speak to interactions that don’t require memorization or practice, and instead speak of an intuitive grasp of a system that can figure out what you want to do. The ships are so built around the idea that their users interact at a higher level than mere physical-ness that the walls aren’t even painted.
And, from pure enjoyment of how intuitive and awesome they’ve managed to make everything, Gurren Lagann.
Why did you pick Wall-E for your first scifiinterfaces review?
I really like how Wall-E shows the two spectrums of endurance technology: both post-apocalyptic hardened ruggedness, and post-AI takeover hands-off automation. There was also a lot to work with in the motivations that the different interfaces were built to serve. For me, watching how the Axiom works is always fun because it describes what Buy-N-Large expected out of its customers. I think there are a lot of companies that would like to do what BNL did, and the movie asks us if it’s really a world we want to live in.
Also, of the Pixar movies that has interfaces to review, Wall-E is my favorite.
What was your biggest surprise when doing the review?
I was surprised at how easy it was to descend into nitpicking aspects of the interface designs, without acknowledging that they were very effective at their purpose. After writing a review, I could go back and realize that I made it sound like the interface failed completely when that wasn’t my intention at all. Especially when most of the interfaces I went into the most detail on were the ones that I really enjoyed. Pixar did a good job relaying Buy-N-Large’s design goals and intentions through their interfaces, and I really wanted to get that idea through when I did my reviews.
What else are you working on?
The biggest single other project I’m working on (outside of work at least!) is my first full-length novel. I’ve written a lot of stuff for fun, but this novel has grown far past my initial attempts to just write down some fun scenes and concepts I was working on. It’s turned into a way of getting down ideas I’ve had floating around about artificial intelligence and having fun writing long form plot that is actually intended to be marketable:
When a vindictive fellow pilot tries to steal Elizabeth’s warship and Artificial Intelligence, Phi, Elizabeth suddenly realizes that there’s more to an interplanetary war than just fighting against enemy forces. Elizabeth will have to tease out who she can trust among her fellow pilots, and whether she should hide the surprising intelligence Phi displays from her paranoid superiors if she wants to survive the growing conflict.
It’s aimed at a high school reader, and just needs a bit more work before it’ll be ready to go out and look for an agent.