Things have to look like

6/05/2008

I think that I have written before about this. Why do virtual things have to look like something — often a supposedly familiar object — else? I was stuck on this again through two almost unconnected but with almost the same look interfaces:

They both happen to look like the front page of a newspaper. Of course they are not the only sites that look like a newspaper, but I just happened to come across them and not any other piece of virtual junk.

The idea behind Times is simple: you (me) are used to read news in a newspaper. RSS items are ’sort of news’ and they look nice when organised as a newspaper. Then, they should be presented as such. The morning news screams ‘I am kind of a newspaper so I should look like one’. Period.

But should they? Papers are big, spread when there was plenty of space available to open the bloody things completely. But now we fold them, we read ‘text’ (either plain or highly decorated) and try to extract maximum information from ever increasing noise. Is something that looks like a several centuries old piece of paper a good interface to summarise too many pieces of flotsam? May be updates, news, email should just float to the top according to our reading habits or topic popularity (some times inverting to extremely unpopular topics).

Does an arbitrary spatial configuration provides any additional information? Doubtful, but it some times looks pretty.

Filed in software, web

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