Interacting with 2D/3D text on the iPhone: some experiments

arielm's picture

After years playing with Processing, OpenGL and Java, I have found a new playground called the iPhone: http://chronotext.org/iphone

The touch and acceleration capabilities are bringing a huge plus (more experiments to follow I hope...)

Any feedback, typophiles?
Ariel

hrant's picture

The main problem is that moving text cannot be read, at least not more than one word at time. The human reading "hardware" just can't do it.

hhp

arielm's picture

Text is information, data, signal, pattern... Motion is a very relative concept as well.

So when I hear "the main problem is that moving text cannot be read", I feel kind of shocked by the narrow-mindedness (lack of relativity if you prefer...)

Or should it be considered as provocation for the purpose of some interesting debate?

Ariel
http://chronotext.org

hrant's picture

Good design (unlike Art) has to work within constraints.
Reality is not "narrow-minded". If you read up on how
the human eye works maybe you will get my point.

Don't shoot the messenger.

hhp

arielm's picture

Well, I was not aware that Reality had a speaker.

And again, I think you're far too absolute in your negation. More constructivity (doors left-open if you like) on the horizon can be nice sometimes...

hrant's picture

I'm really not a conservative.
But to me you're being more an artist than a designer.

Maybe a fakir who can consciously slow down his heartbeat
could also re-train his eye motion to easily read moving text.
But he probably wouldn't care to read stuff typeset that way!

hhp

nina's picture

I think this is cool in terms of being artsy, being somewhat visually interesting, and showing off the potential of the iPhone (and, hey, I heart the thing). But I'll have to agree that it looks like you haven't really considered text isn't only supposed to look cool: if this is supposed to be a new interface for a news reader, you'll likely get a bunch of initially fascinated and quickly frustrated users. (And btw, I think setting longish text in a 3D shape doesn't automatically qualify as "information visualization".)
As hard as that may be to accept in terms of wanting to exploit the possibilities the iPhone offers, I think it makes a lot of sense that text usually "looks boring" (set in 2D, in constant, parallel, left-to-right lines, and static). :->

Though there seem to be some interesting experiments with moving type. I'm not exactly an expert on that. But you may want to look at some stuff like those interfaces that quickly flash words. Or type animations that are quite nice (and do actually read). Can someone help me out with links and terms? :-)

blank's picture

It’s interesting, but I can’t see how it’s at all useful. But I’m sure that if you turn these into libraries available for licensing you have brilliant young designers chomping at the bit to use them in something great.

arielm's picture

Tough guys! But maybe spot-on after all (how quickly you x-rayed the artist in me :-)

Maybe it's my destiny to spend years making useless experiments on dimensional type, preparing the terrain for young and brilliant designers to make something great of it...

So to reformulate: my research can be useful in the achievement of something great, which is not a bad thing after all.

Ariel
http://chronotext.org (the research in question, if we look at the broad scale...)

hrant's picture

> my research can be useful in ....

This is the sort of thing one really
must leave to other people to say.

hhp

apankrat's picture

> Any feedback, typophiles?

Consider playing with a position-based 3D perspective rather than accelerometer-induced animation. Something along these lines.

blank's picture

…my research can be useful in the achievement of something great, which is not a bad thing after all.

Which pretty much makes you at home here. After all, no matter how well-designed type is, it’s not especially useful until a designer does something with it.

hrant's picture

Even without/before being used much a font can be useful to other type designers (and hence indirectly to users as well eventually) in the form of inspiration or technique. For example you don't see Legato used much, but it's a massive cultural contribution nonetheless.

hhp

arielm's picture

To close the thread on a constructive note, I invite all the good designers around to take a look at my research and see if they feel like collaborating with a multi-disciplinary guy (at least programmer and artist) in order to turn all this potential into something great!

hrant's picture

Only a moderator can close a thread (which is extremely rare around here).

BTW, good type design is highly multi-disciplinary. Ideally one needs to know cultural history, fashion trends, aesthetics, digital drawing, preferably programming... and not least the science of reading.

It is a craft.

hhp

devolver's picture

arielm- I feel your work has been judged a little unfairly here... to me, you are on the right track, simply by experimenting. cheers to that. I am certainly interested in what you are doing there.

In my opinion (for whatever that is worth) I think it's rather odd to pose a sweeping statement as a fact "moving text cannot be read." hang on... film credits? Stock and news tickers? TV commercials? Animated billboards? (think Times Square.) How about even static highway billboards as you drive by, does that count as moving text? The list could go on and on. If moving text could not be read, a lot of motion designers wouldn't have jobs.

also, in using the iphone, I *do* find myself reading longer format text as I scroll it (so yes, it's moving); specifically, while using NYT app and the Wikipedia app. The reader having the control of the movement makes a big difference.

and also, let's remember one of David Carson's great type experiments: "don't confuse legibility with communication."

hrant's picture

Right, David Carson. Nevermind.

hhp

hrant's picture

> you are on the right track, simply by experimenting.

> one of David Carson’s great type experiments:
> “don’t confuse legibility with communication.”

So Ariel, all you really have to do is make statements, and you will thereby be "experimenting", and are therefore clearly on the right track. Presumably so is somebody who would letterspace lowercase...

Here's one for you:
"Don't confuse jerking off with design."

Words matter, people, in their meaning and their presence.

hhp

apankrat's picture

Hrant, you are overreacting (to put it mildly).

speter's picture

We call that hranting...

arielm's picture

Well, if "hranting" has already been categorized as a common action, it explains everything then...

As for myself (thanks to all the constructive comments out there btw, I did read you): I just can't go on with this discussion. Humanely speaking, it's simply unbearable.

Joe Pemberton's picture

I have to agree that this is first, pretty inspiring seeing type behave this way in a mobile device context. But to Hrant and James' points, it feels like a solution looking for a problem.

Don't let that discourage you! There are plenty of instances where motion design and animated type can enhance meaning. We're just used to those happening on a different scale, that still has the utility of being readable. And in a mobile context it has to have utility beyond what you've shown. I think you've got some interesting concepts, especially as they relate to interacting with text in some new ways.

I'd suggest starting with a problem.

A mobile can be tiresome for reading long documents. The tilting document example you showed might be an interesting way to navigate a document and get a sense for its size and content (images, diagrams, callouts) but it's ineffective for actual reading in the way it's currently demoed.

What if a reader app (ebook or RSS reader) could enlarge the text above a touch point (long press) for easier zooming without having to pinch in and out?

What if you could slowly move your finger to scroll through a document instead of repeated flicking. What if you could tilt the device to move to the next screen instead of flicking?

What about an educational app for beginning readers where single words react to touch. Drag the word to the object, assemble letters into words, etc.

Stephen Coles's picture

Some nice ideas from Joe. Otherwise, the demos show some potential for simulation, entertainment, and gaming applications, but not for text.

hrant's picture

> it’s simply unbearable.

Some people know what hranting means,
but everybody knows what artiste means.

Joe, good angles.

hhp

casperobro's picture

Super work. I like it!
I would love to help with some proto testing or anything else i could help with.

Casper

Marcelo Soler's picture

"Motion is a very relative concept as well."

Is it?
Not at all, at least for a reading subject.
One must agree that movement is relative from a physical point of view, but with perception, it is absolutely different, the same way that ideas such upside, down, left and right are equally absolute for a given context.
There is an experiment that consists of extracting and rotating the eye of a frog*, let's say, 180 degrees: the frog is unable to deal with the environment because of the relative positions of things in its brain doesn't match theirs in the real world.
* Amphibious has the unusual capacity of self relinking broken neural threads.
In the matter we discuss on, it has to do with the movement recognition mechanism also, that is common for all mammals and other species.
When something moves before our eyes, it triggers a complex series of reactions to determine what kind of movement is happening, and act accordingly (it is unnecessary to say that most of these reactions are ancient reflexs).
But our perception doesn't work estrictly under the general principle of action and reaction: it is selective, some attenuations –that can reach even the cancellation of stimuli– and some boosts occur, in order to allow us to discern what matters and what doesn't; reactions have inherited distortions.
Beyond that reading is a cultural behavior, an ordinary reader is unavoidably determined for some basic questions such as position, angle, brightness, contrast, sequential sorting, pattern recognition, focus, distance, size, weight, and so on; worse: the eyes move in three different ways:

  • Individual eye movement (duction)
  • Same direction eyes movement (version)
  • Opposite direction eyes movement (vergence)

It's almost pointless to tell that when a text moves in any way, reading becomes a harder task for our visual short term memory processing system, mainly because parameters that are supposed to be constant become variable (you know how hard it can be to read the credits at the end of a film movie when scrolling), but also because we cannot keep focus on such a complex situation that requires all of our conscious.
Moving texts make us considerably more sensitive to failure phenomena like inattentional, choice, and change blindness, obscuration, noising; they are not only related to movement itself, but to the kind of movement.
In the end, it's all determined by our mind map, that is our way of knowing the world, in which position is almost everything (by the way, the Moon seems bigger on the horizon 'cause four our mind map the universe is an overwhelmed sphere).
I once learned –and it didn't change since then– that Relativity fits in its own field, the same way that Quantum Mechanics only works at atomic level; so I'm reluctant to such generalizations as saying "I feel kind of shocked by the narrow-mindedness (lack of relativity if you prefer...)".
I agree that these experiments are "cool in terms of being artsy, being somewhat visually interesting, and showing off the potential of the iPhone", in Nina's words. Nevertheless, speaking of a humane interface, in that case, is as far as the distance between the Myth of Oedipus (art) and the Oedipus Complex (science?).
Art is inspiring; then, it starts the modest-hard-slow-constrained work of design.
Design, in my humble opinion, is mainly a matter of modesty.

MarS

hrant's picture

Marcelo, that's all quite interesting, with terms and concepts
I had not encountered before. I will have to do some research.

> Design, in my humble opinion, is mainly a matter of modesty.

I like that.
(Would "humility" be an even better term?)

hhp

Marcelo Soler's picture

"Would “humility” be an even better term?"
Sorry for my poor English.

"I will have to do some research"
I have written a lot on the matter; now I'm translating it to publish ASAP. I think it would be an interesting (modest? :-) ) complement to your work on how we read, especially in what involves the vision dynamics.

Back to the main subject: my guess is the experiments are truly amazing and attract my attention on the capabilities of the iPhone; there, I see they are not precisely matter of applied design –sorry for the redundance– in the current state, and that can be split in branches, let's say:

  • Approaches to more natural interfaces, that behave similarly to the real world (though it's not necessarily more efficient from the point of view of user's work) –as in the 3D news reader.
  • Developing of new ways of interaction in abstract environments (perhaps the opposite to the previous item) –as in the babel tower reader.
  • Inspiring ideas for art and design, in the shape of pure concepts.
  • Substantial contributions to the study of the aplicable, engineering scope of our mental abilities and limitations.

Nevertheless, all that falls far away from typographic design as a discipline –hey: that's not a sin–, except as (proto) experimental tries. In that sense, I'm not being restrictive by compartmenting things analytically (analysis is a huge tool, but must be used carefully, and many times ruled out); I'm just attempting to use adjectivations more properly.

MarS

Typedog's picture

This is cool!

Guerrizmo+Design
No man is an island unto himself_John Donne

Joostmarcellis's picture

dud that is awesome, keep em comming

bowerbird's picture

ariel said:
> I just can’t go on with this discussion.
> Humanely speaking, it’s simply unbearable.

oh boy. not _just_ an artist, but a _sensitive_ artist. ;+)
when you ask for feedback, you need a thick skin...

as for readability, your experiments don't have it.

however...

from a position of _playing_with_words_ (my favorite!),
they look like loads of fun! once i start programming
the iphone, and i get my basic chops down, i will be
throwing ideas your way to see how to use your stuff.

keep up the good work...

-bowerbird

arielm's picture

bowerbird said:
>oh boy. not _just_ an artist, but a _sensitive_ artist. ;+)
>when you ask for feedback, you need a thick skin...

Sensitivity is good for artists, I'll keep it.

Concerning the thickness of my skin, you didn't understand my point which was and still is: fights should be fair.

The amount of hits under the belt by I have received from hrant is far beyond the level of what I consider viable for any intellectual discussion. At some point, the subject of the topic is not relevant anymore, while our humanity and the way we interact one with another is always actual.

That was for the dignity and respect part. Now, and as a complement of secondary importance: I feel that hrant is behaving like a control freak, leaving 0 door open for a true discussion.

1 + 1 = no-win / no-deal for me. At least for this thread. Maybe another time (some of us -- and I count myself in -- could greatly benefit from a sane and fun exchange...)

hrant's picture

Making a person a scapegoat is weakness. Is that artsy too?
If you ever start thinking like a designer you will feel more
harmonious here.

hhp

bowerbird's picture

ariel said:
> The amount of hits under the belt

those hits were not "below the belt";
your sensitivity made you misperceive.

laugh it off, and dish some dirt back...

-bowerbird

bowerbird's picture

dish it back, and they won't see you as being "weak".

-bowerbird

arielm's picture

Becomes boring...
Let's have a moving text fight!

I'll start by quoting Beck's words: "I'm a looser baby, so why don't you kill me?"

Java applet (or iPhone video capture following :-)

nina's picture

Hm… I think you've been taking stuff way too personally.

hrant's picture

Nail on the head, Nina. And that "stuff" includes what Ariel has made, like that iPhone thing. Essentially, he wants it to be about him (and this is typical of artists). But this place should not be about him (or me), it should be about type, even if that comes at the expense of the enjoyment of individual participants. You want unconditional, fawning encouragement? Try Flickr.

hhp

Marcelo Soler's picture

LOL!
"And then God said..."

[Hate you momma: you gave birth to a designer, when I'm supposed to be a Creator]

MarS

arielm's picture

Bought myself a red clown nose and started this new thread, where I'm delighted to invite all of you to a show on moving text.

hrant's picture

If you want a fresh start, as opposed to simply creating a diversion:
1) State that clearly, either here or there (preferably both).
2) Change your attitude to accommodate the context - namely Typophile.

On the other hand I'm glad to see you're trying so hard. Maybe it means you respect Typophile? Please translate that to a change of perspective - we'd all be better off for it.

hhp

casperobro's picture

Here is a little more breathing type for the disussion.
http://vimeo.com/3548185

Casper

Syndicate content Syndicate content