Notes and Thoughts

Discursive working and evergreen notes


User interface: a personal view

Author Alan Kay

I read McLuhan's Understanding Media and understood that the most important thing about any communications medium is that message receipt is really message recovery; anyone who wishes to receive a message embedded in a medium must first have internalized the medium so it can be subtracted out to leave the message behind When he said the medium is the message he meant that you have to become the medium if you use it.


  • According to Understanding Media the printing press transformed the West into a scientific society not through the transmission of information, but through the transmission of new thought patterns. Books are detached from context and social processes. To interface with them is to change your brain into a more detached and cerebral configuration. Mediums change the thought patterns of the user. Oh and computers are most definitely mediums.

  • Jerome Bruner's B: Towards a Theory of Instruction suggests that minds are made up of different 'parts'. Different mentalities - (mindsetmindset

    s) - are present at different times, and they have different skills.
    • Human cognitive facilities are made of a doing mentality, an image mentality, and a symbolic mentality
    • Mentalities can "seize control" in specific contexts.
  • User interfaces are intertwined with learning, and learning takes place best in an embedded environment.

  • Pioneers of environment learning context
    • Inner Game of Tennis
    • Montessori Method
  • Doing with Images makes Symbols

  • The user interface design will be the critical factor in communicating with other people and other Agents. Reminds me of the distill essay from Michael Nielsen on Tools for Thought.