Imagined Interfaces
April 23, 2013 8:10 AM   Subscribe

The difference between (Graphical) User Interfaces in movies and in real life is that the former have to convey information to the viewer, not the user.

The bloggers Nathan Shedroff and Christopher Noessel wrote a book on it, and Noessel et al talked about the subject at SXSW '11.

Also these GUIs from Oblivion are just too damn pretty.

Previously: Upload this to your alien spacecraft
posted by dst (15 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
This is neat. It's great to see a take on GUIs in films that are more than LOLDUMS.

Of course the most ridiculous ones are supposed to be contemporary--even the Space Balls computers are more useful than most Law And Order websites. But speaking of which I've always wondered this--how much would it cost to show Facebook in a show like L&O? Would FB really charge for it? Would they sue because it's showing someone evilly stalking a person on it or whatever? What's the catch on just using real internet on tv?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:24 AM on April 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is freakin' excellent, and thanks for sharing it. As Potomac Avenue has said, the thing that I am really enjoying about it is that these folks are trying to approach and critique the user interfaces in these movies in an honest way, rather than simply laughing at how movie makers are dumm haw haw haw. Even though a lot of us may not use the term "affordance" in regular conversation, goddamn if the concept doesn't define how we think about the things we interact with -- and what's more, the way in which we want to interact with things.

Awesome blog, great find, and shit now I gotta buy the book!
posted by barnacles at 8:55 AM on April 23, 2013

And I should recognize that I'm easily biased by the fact that the first posts on the blog as I read it were all about Fifth Element and, to me, anything and that both adds to the awesomeness of that film and aims to dissect it and analyse it is A-OK in my book.
posted by barnacles at 8:59 AM on April 23, 2013

Thanks dst and PA, for both this FPP and "LOLDUMS."
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:02 AM on April 23, 2013

how much would it cost to show Facebook in a show like L&O? Would FB really charge for it? Would they sue because it's showing someone evilly stalking a person on it or whatever? What's the catch on just using real internet on tv?
Perhaps it's not about money but control. FaceUnion is never going to be found to be a hive of baby-eating paedophiles or CIA front.
posted by fullerine at 9:52 AM on April 23, 2013

Related, Scott Hanselman has an amusing collection of technology fails in film.

(off to create a GUI interface in visual basic to track the killer's IP address)
posted by fatbaq at 9:55 AM on April 23, 2013

The book is a must-read for anyone interested in sci-fi and interface design.
Shedroff is coming out to guest lecture about the book and the survey in one of my classes in a few weeks.
posted by robhuddles at 9:58 AM on April 23, 2013

Oh wow. I just read through the whole blog and bought their book, as well. This is fascinating.

(Especially because I'm constantly trying to depict fragments of a sensible augmented reality user interface in my current comics project.)
posted by egypturnash at 11:24 AM on April 23, 2013

Oh neat, I've completely missed the Alien / Blade Runner crossover scene all these years until just now. Now the hints seen within Prometheus make more sense (even though I was kind of "meh" about the movie itself). This made my day.
posted by samsara at 12:30 PM on April 23, 2013

I'm sure that licensing is a critical reason why we don't see real sites like FB.

If you want an analogy, look at the awkwardness of the time that CNN especially was into featuring its real news anchors on film playing CNN anchors with the CNN brand behind them, versus the number of times that you just have a generic anchor at a generic newscast. I don't think it's that big a difference, conceptually.

There's another critical reason, though -- using "FaceUnion" you can organize it the way you want to show the name and information you want.

Interestingly, I believe both Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty used almost YouTube screens to display the public release of video material. The interfaces shown (my memory may be faulty) was pretty similar to the stripped-down heavy-on-whitespace version of the real interface.
posted by dhartung at 5:33 PM on April 23, 2013

Perhaps it's not about money but control

Put down your pencils, people, we have a winner.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:26 PM on April 23, 2013

Apparently I win premium subscriptions to YourPipe and Hashtag.
posted by fullerine at 6:32 PM on April 23, 2013

LOLDRUMS [lol-druhmz]. n

A state of apathy, boredom or flattened affect such that viewing that which would regularly cause joy - say, a video of an amusingly misbehaving kitten - no longer has the desired effect.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 10:28 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not exactly accurate to refer to those guys as "bloggers." I don't believe either of them actively blog, for one thing. And they're exceptionally well known for many of the other things that they do do. Yes, I said doo doo.
posted by stevil at 6:58 PM on April 24, 2013

stevil, fair enough. I didn't mean they're primarily bloggers, but that they're the people who are updating the aforementioned blog.
posted by dst at 5:35 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

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