Tom Chi  

Keepin’ it Real Evil

January 9th, 2004 by Tom Chi :: see related comic

I applaud RealAudio’s recent effort to clean up their image by engaging the community directly — it’s like a page straight out of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Just imagine all the trouble they could have avoided if they solicited Slashdot for product feedback three versions ago. They would have easily side-stepped several years of ill-will, and probably held on to their incredible position in streaming media.

The things that Real did with their installation UI went far beyond being just “bad UI”… it was more of a “deceitful UI”, or a “foul, rank, and utterly insidious UI”. These sorts of interfaces are like the “dark side” of HCI. The same practices that we normally apply to make things easier and more understandable for the user, are applied in reverse to purposely confuse the user and force them to concede to our objectives.

Have any of you been forced to practice the “dark side” of HCI? If so, what were the circumstances?

As for Real… I actually hope they can turn this around. If connecting with users via public forums allows them to clean up their act, it will serve as a great example that a real dialogue with users can be a powerful tool for success.


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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?