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August 8, 2008 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Aurora is a concept video exploring one possible future user experience for the Web.
posted by plexi (37 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cool, but how's it help with downloading p0rn?

(Or even more importantly, snarking on web fora?)
posted by orthogonality at 12:35 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Neat stuff ... from MeFi's own jjg.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:51 PM on August 8, 2008


Neat, and very well thought-out.

I also like how, in the future, browsers will include a antagonistic Wilford Brimley-like figure to challenge your recollections about the world outside. This useful feature probably serves to keep people oriented, as the Aurora interface can be so engrossing.

I wonder if Matt Haughey know about this?
posted by borborygmi at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2008


So where do I get a crazy three-dimensional armature-mounted mouse?
posted by echo target at 12:57 PM on August 8, 2008


All very cool, but let's admit it: we suck at predicting the future.

And everyone knows in the future pr0n and snarking will be combined for maximum awesomeness
posted by darkripper at 12:57 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


A bit premature, don't you think?
posted by oddman at 1:00 PM on August 8, 2008


So where do I get a crazy three-dimensional armature-mounted mouse?

here
posted by mrnutty at 1:02 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Um, Vimeo's flash thingy locks up FF3 repeatedly: Fail.

Teensy tiny fine-motor-control-based blossom interface with no visible cues, just dots: Fail.

Big floatey 3D semantic network thingy for web history: Okay, intrigued.

Using simple geometric shape to indicate broad "type" information in said network thingy: Clever but highly limited.

Multi-axis mouse: Fail fail fail.

Implications of the drop-this-data-into-this-graph thing: Monumental and insurmountable in the general case.

Collaboration that still requires a backchannel (voice) rather than an integrated shared-flow where your hands and eyes are as involved as they are in regular solo work: total fail. But makes for a better video.

But then user experience is pushed forward by this kind of looks-good-as-entertainment stuff until it meets the inevitable and stunning laziness and unpredictability of actual users.
posted by abulafa at 1:03 PM on August 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


I also like how, in the future...

I was kinda thrown off by the fact that this woman has all of this computer power at her fingertips, but doesn't have a super-smart, AI-controlled robotic tractor to take care of the crops.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:04 PM on August 8, 2008


I have to agree with abulafa here on almost all counts. The biggest issue is that I don't see how this does anything for me that I can't do now with tabbed browsing and IM, with the exception of the drag-and-drop presentation/data dichotomy. On this, I disagree with abulafa, because I think if you have well-defined formats for data in XML, then as long as content creators write to this standard, then there really shouldn't be a problem. I also part ways on the big semantic network thing. Who browses like that? I really can't imagine any need to sort my links like that. What does it buy me over a bookmark tree?

So that's my takeaway. Data/presentation dichotomy is cool but nichey, and the rest of it really does fail.
posted by Edgewise at 1:11 PM on August 8, 2008


I also like how, in the future, browsers will include a antagonistic Wilford Brimley-like figure to challenge your recollections about the world outside.

Actually, that's happening to me right now, and strangely, I don't need a computer for it.
posted by Edgewise at 1:12 PM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell writes "I was kinda thrown off by the fact that this woman has all of this computer power at her fingertips, but doesn't have a super-smart, AI-controlled robotic tractor to take care of the crops."

This is the future, after peak oil. She has starving refugees from Silicon Valley working as indentured serfs for porridge.
posted by orthogonality at 1:15 PM on August 8, 2008


Teensy tiny fine-motor-control-based blossom interface with no visible cues, just dots: Fail.

They were definitely going for the shiny animated everything-flying-around approach, like a Mac, neglecting the fact that most people don't like that shit.

And the big clouds of floating things in randomly-appearing overlapping positions is made of fail. Their own example admitted that she can't even use it to find her personal weather station without running a search.

Also, were the live action parts supposed to be all freeze-framey while the screenshot parts were smooth? What was up with that?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:21 PM on August 8, 2008


It's a cool vision, I'll admit that. But all I kept thinking about was, "good luck making all that code cross browser". If you code for the web you know what I mean. We don't even have basic design tools - e.g. a decent grid based layout model or the ability to embed fonts - and I'm expected to believe that the corporations are able to to work together on a series of standards that enable designers to create highly interactive web applications that work cross browser? I dunno.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:21 PM on August 8, 2008


Edgewise, I would love to believe in your XML-standards-future, but if you look at that data it's only tangentially related and presented in a way that would require significant document-fragment-to-presentation-layer translation.

Given the proliferation of competing standards of that type right now, I really only see interoperability of the type shown in the video being possible when the presentation technologies are more homogenized, not less, which is very much not the direction anybody's heading. (On preview, seconded.)

As for the history thing - sometimes, yeah, I just remember what the page I was on looked like, vaguely speaking, without remembering a useful text or URI keyword; I figure that problem is more common among folks who don't consider keywords at all until they don't know what they're looking for. But I concede it's probably a sci-fi solution to a short-fiction problem.
posted by abulafa at 1:25 PM on August 8, 2008


yeah, radial menus with dots == mystery meat navigation. Herr Nielsen would not approve.

As for the 3-D time axis on items, so many people get confused by the desktop metaphor that I can't imagine anyone outside of Adaptive Path will get too jazzed about this.

Finally, where's the physics? They need to get their BumpTop on!
posted by GuyZero at 1:36 PM on August 8, 2008


Thanks for the pointer, Mr. Nutty. Seems like your arm would get pretty tired using that Novint 3D mouse. Nothing to rest your wrist on?

I don't much like the blossom interface either. I like to have everything spread out in front of me where I can keep an eye on it, both on the computer and in the real world. I don't want my menus to all be hidden behind things. A good interface is one you don't have to be taught how to use.
posted by echo target at 1:38 PM on August 8, 2008


I liked the part about the Cubs losing, but the 3D mouse seems like it would create more problems than it would solve.
posted by drezdn at 1:46 PM on August 8, 2008


Who has a name like Jesse James Garrett?!

"Well, dear, he's already got the name of the man who killed Billy The Kid, let's call him Jesse James, too."

"Dear God, honey, that's just too much American Badass! It'll backfire terribly! He'll wind up as some kind of degenerate, like a software engineer or something!"
posted by shmegegge at 2:02 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


My favorite idea was from the second (or third?) video, that incorporated the users' location into the "San Francisco activities" thing, along with the mapquest directions that incorporated their personal tastes into the "personal interest route." I also liked how the graphs interacted with the input data and the way in which the system enabled people to communicate. Also nice how they touched on the legalities of data ownership in the last one.

The rest wasn't anything special. I can see some of this happening (kind of reminds me of new facebook.) I think the interaction of data will be the most remarkable and useful thing about future!internet.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:02 PM on August 8, 2008


This feels way too mundane for a concept video. I guess I'll go back to reading Paleo-Future until someone makes more progress on brain-machine interfaces.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 2:02 PM on August 8, 2008


If, in describing your new interface design, you find yourself using the phrase "A three dimensional universe of..." you should stop, go all the way back to the beginning, and start again.
posted by rusty at 2:11 PM on August 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


I just want that magic bar of soap.
posted by malocchio at 2:19 PM on August 8, 2008


I cannot imagine why she would need a 3d mouse to navigate that interface.

what's more, I cannot imagine that anyone would look at that screen, even knowing what all of its bits and parts are intimately, and think that that was the ideal way to present information and functionality.

Why on earth do you have to mouse over portions of the radial wheel to see what they do? Like, she opens the radial wheel (presumably with a right click?) and it presents a ring of identical unlabeled white dots, and she has to mouse over them to see what each identical white dot does? for real?

I recall, back when I was learning to use Alias Maya, that they had this customizable radial menu functionality that was the absolute bee's knees. You could hold down ctrl and click and then drag anywhere to instantly perform any action you could think of, from the most simple to the most complex series of actions. But that was in a notoriously difficult to use piece of Pro animation software. The learning curve to begin using that in a way that saves time and helps you was outrageous. The reason it was ok was because 3d modeling has a steep learning curve anyway. Web browsing is not supposed to be anything of the kind.

Hell, it's in the video, when the lady goes "Hmmm, I know it's here somewhere!" How is it beneficial to have a spacial history pile be the default way to find content? Did someone think "Man, if only my history could be this huge jumbled mess in a pile in front of me, I'd never use bookmarks again!" Solution looking for a problem, I guess.
posted by shmegegge at 2:19 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


oh, this is so frustrating:

as you can see, the top bit there is called the shelf, it's where we keep things the user accesses frequently. you can tell that's what it does because it has a bunch of random web pages up there.

on the right we have the dingus, it's where you keep the last 15 widgets you floozled. you can tell what it does because it looks just like the shelf, except it's sideways and has a bunch of random web pages on it.

on the left we have the shnizzle. that's there for balance. it, too, has a bunch of random web pages on it.
posted by shmegegge at 2:28 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


My dingus and my shnizzle are full. Can I just store everything on my shmegegge?
posted by The Bellman at 2:51 PM on August 8, 2008


since you spelled it correctly, yes you can.
posted by shmegegge at 2:53 PM on August 8, 2008


Aurora is a suburb of Denver that likes to think of itself as a city, though it has little identity of it's own.
posted by Eekacat at 3:30 PM on August 8, 2008


Ironically this video fails to load on both Firefox and Safari in both HD and non-HD modes. It's completely useless because of the stalling issue. Apparently other people are noticing the same problem so perhaps it's actually the video file itself?

Does anyone have an alternate link?
posted by odinsdream at 3:36 PM on August 8, 2008


I believe there are several Auroras scattered around the country, Eekacat, being a refugee, um, alumnus of the one you're talking about... chances seem good you could be talking about any of them.

Sadly, in my youth, I had no idea what the noun "aurora" was^ for the first many years. It was just the sprawling stripmall I lived in rather than the phenomenon it wished it could be.


Yeah, I went and parsed the data just to satisfy my curiosity. Sixteen unique Auroras in CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, NY, NC, OH, OR, SD, TX and UT.

posted by abulafa at 3:56 PM on August 8, 2008


Why am I having flashbacks of some exhibit in mid-1980's EPCOT Center?
posted by greatgefilte at 4:34 PM on August 8, 2008


I don't have time for this video right now. Maybe I'll watch it on the tractor (toilet).
posted by PM at 5:24 PM on August 8, 2008


The scattered data bubbles are beyond terrible. Being able to have all my information ordered for me, in such a fashion that I don't have to work with sheets of paper placed in haphazard layers, is why I like computers.
posted by Phalene at 6:35 PM on August 8, 2008


Forget about the alternate video link. I just moved to a 20mbps link on a brand new dual-core 2.4GHz machine with 2GB of RAM and the fucking thing still jitters. I'm fairly sure it's the video itself that sucks.

Now I can finally comment on this complete dumbass interface: I'd like for someone to redo this video with today's interfaces and show what a breeze this would be even now, and how it would in fact be more efficient than the bubbles and shelves and..um, other shelves, with clouds inside them.
posted by odinsdream at 7:05 PM on August 8, 2008


GOD it's like some strange fucking slideshow. Did they only have an SLR to shoot this?!?
posted by odinsdream at 7:12 PM on August 8, 2008


Netscape previews Aurora
Published: September 29, 1997 2:20 PM PDT


Same anti-web marketroid bullshit, different decade.
posted by blasdelf at 11:05 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


All very cool, but let's admit it: we suck at predicting the future.

Well, to be fair, this is from Mozilla, so it's an attempt at "predicting" the future by inventing it.

But I certainly agree with the consensus: I can't believe anyone in 2008 would end up thinking that a menu made out of closely-spaced unlabelled dots is usable for anyone. And count my vote in on "Why the hell do we need a 3D mouse for this?"
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:10 AM on August 9, 2008


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