Monthly Archives: May 2005

Impulse information

The other day, I went to see Mimi Ito speak about the work she did on Camera Phones. I’ve heard her talk before, but I thought I’d go again to hear her work once more. At the end of the talk she mentioned a great metaphor, casually. She said that the phone wasn’t replacing the desktop, but instead that it was replacing gum and cigarettes. Yesterday, while I was working, I mentioned to my friend, Ted from 4info, of how to think about designing a mobile app. My analogy: think about designing for a 5 year old.

No attention, clear and direct, simple!

On the way home, we were chatting about the web on phones. We were talking about what a better metaphor for browsing the web on the phone would be. I was reminded of Mimi’s thoughts.

Impulse information.

Impulse information is something that you need within a few seconds of thinking of it. If it takes too much time, then your addiction and impulse wears off. You want to find that one thing. You want to find it fast. You want to find it now. You know what it is you are craving. The challenge is just to get it quickly.

You don’t want to browse through a lot of pages. You don’t want to sift through irrelevant content. You don’t want to be bogged down by massive hierarchical structures. You want something flat, quick, and satisfying. Something like a piece of chocolate after a big meal, a piece of candy at 4:00, a sip of coffee after a long meeting, or even a cigarette after sex. You need it. You want it. The moment matters.

The implications rethinking some of the way the web is structured could have implications structurally, functionally, and with content. Do we still necessarily need links, or is search better? Flatter databases with content that is readily available at a top level just waiting to be picked by an accurate query. Less network interactions. What would it mean to pear down content to only the really relevant information. Could we actually start to include short hand or texting phrases into content pages. Btw, w/o, 2, U, 4, etc. Cryptic perhaps, but if you get what you want and you get it now, perhaps more satisfying.

Taking this thought one step further… I venture to wonder… instead of the information age… are we beginning to enter the information addiction age? If so, sign me up for the closest IA.