Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tubby Toast

OTTAWA - Two random thoughts collided on the internet today causing a devastating urge to write down the following nonsense.

I have been reading this very insightful paper called "Attuning Notification to User Goals and Attention Costs" by D. Scott McCrickard and C.M. Chewar which is all about trade-offs we need to make in notification systems in order to support user access to additional information from sources secondary to their primary activity.  In parallel I have been looking into indexing and mapping strategies that best resemble classification schemes, such that a developer could actually surface best practices to the UX layer as a catch-all for 'everything that is possible".  Somewhere in between these two extremes for navigation and interruption is the actual paper I am working on with a few colleagues around defining all of these patterns of interaction in an attempt to create better dialogue, more utility in taxonomy and agility in the way we address interaction layers.

While on the trail of classification I came across a brilliant new post from Donna Spencer called Classification Schemes (and when to use them) http://bit.ly/cOWowu and within that she talks about best practices for classification inclusive of good old-fashioned Alphabetical indices and some great insight in terms of the opportunity to educate and inform users even within this seemingly mundane approach to experience.  As any good author would, she cites a few examples and her example of a best practice in this regard is the BBC "A Whole Lot More" function which is essentially an alphabetical listing of all their sites aptly located at http://www.bbc.co.uk/a-z/.  BBC provides the alphabet linked across the top nav element of that page and uses the remaining real estate to showcase Categories and enables horizontal scrolling of that category.

And here comes the collision...

On that categorical horizontal scroller I was drawn immediately to the lower right of the page (I assume I must have already adequately inspected the top left) wherein I was greeted by the familiar (I have children) waving form of the purple Teletubby, Tinky Winky.  Tinky Winky, unlike the other characters featured more demurely, even sombre and moody, in their category boxes was smiling, animated, welcoming and engaging and I realized he was hogging my attention on the page.  For those familiar with the Teletubby cartoon, you will know that they do things that little children like to do, such as rolling on the ground, laughing, running about, and watching real children on the televisions embedded in their stomachs.  Their stomachs accept one form of substance, a waffle-like form that ejects vigorously from their readily available toaster called Tubby Toast.

And that's when it struck me.  Henceforth, overexuberant notification systems that dominate attention span in an unbalanced way will always be referred to as Tubby Toast.  That's it.

Thank you, Interwebz, for this unique form of conspired inspiration and the ability to share it.  Hopefully you were notified of this article's existence in a usual, predictable and friendly fashion that gave you latitude to continue with your original task.

If you were looking for information on actual Tubby Toast, you can learn how to make your own here: http://www.pbs.org/parents/birthdayparties/teletubbies/food_toast.html but bear in mind you will be hard pressed to use that for any form of digital notification system.



Posted via web from bitpakkit

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