"Two studs wide and angled at 45°"
August 4, 2020 5:45 AM   Subscribe

George Cave looked at 52 examples of the LEGO "2×2 decorated slope", the type of brick typically used for minifig instrument panels. Many of them illustrated design philosophies underlying real-world interface design. Some of them did not.
posted by jackbishop (21 comments total) 88 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, this is an article tailored for me.

As a side note, my favorite UX Design in Science Fiction are the three color coded Deflector Array release panels in "Star Trek: First Contact". On a ship filled with glass display screens and buttons that actors just let their fingers run wild when using them, this was such a simple mechanical design that ended with a satisfying clunk when used.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:22 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


This is a delightful article and if you enjoyed it you should go read Make it So, about the design of sci-fi interfaces, or as I like to call it, "The book that tells you why the Minority Report interface is bad, actually."
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:25 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


(Also he looks at, at the very least, a couple of 1x2 and 2x3 decorated slopes!)
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:26 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


This is what the internet was made for.
posted by gwint at 6:42 AM on August 4 [8 favorites]


No actual minifig UX testing tho. How do you work those things with lobster-level dexterity?
posted by scruss at 6:45 AM on August 4 [17 favorites]


Oooh, this is right up my alley. I was even wearing my T-shirt with the old Lego Space logo earlier today (before I had to dress for working in the garden).

I'm mostly an embedded systems* developer, but tend to think about UX a lot.

(The small black boxes inside gadgets that make them work, often through physical switches and buttons and doodads.)
posted by Harald74 at 6:49 AM on August 4 [1 favorite]


Tangentially related is Typeset in the Future, one of those blogs that became a book (I'm pretty sure it has been the subject of a MeFi post).
posted by adamrice at 7:26 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


We flew our LL928s across the galaxy with three buttons and a radar. And we liked it.

Now get off my lawn^H^H^H^Hmoonbase.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:14 AM on August 4 [10 favorites]


Oh no now I am gonna be late for my own UX meeting this morning
posted by Kitchen Witch at 8:16 AM on August 4 [3 favorites]


"Two studs wide and angled at 45°"

I know we’ve been encouraged to drop jokey descriptors in our Gender/Pronouns userpage field, but goddamn am I disappointed I won’t get to use this one.
posted by Ryvar at 8:31 AM on August 4 [7 favorites]


*** squee! ***

:D
posted by mazola at 9:06 AM on August 4


I'm bookmarking this for the clear explanations of the types of clusters!

Also, the area I used to work had a reception area behind a locked glass door. Two identical round white buttons were hidden under a desk inside - one was for unlocking the door to let delivery people in, one was for calling the police...
posted by Mogur at 9:31 AM on August 4 [5 favorites]




Lego is the master of interfaces. The *exact same* 2 stud decorated slope can be used to fly a rocket, operate a police dispatch, drive a submarine, and take an xray. Try it and see.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:23 AM on August 4 [4 favorites]


The original grey Lego space computer brick (introduced after they accepted that a steering wheel wasn't quite enough) is the best one and there is no argument about that.
posted by dowcrag at 10:24 AM on August 4 [2 favorites]


I never studied this stuff but have been fascinated by design vs. use ever since my University put in new meandering sidewalks between buildings only to have the students wear paths in the grass that were more direct.

I also have noticed how can find design fails when a control panel or setup has sprouted taped-on notes (do NOT push this unless system shut down) and so on.
posted by emjaybee at 11:05 AM on August 4


Many of them illustrated design philosophies underlying real-world interface design. Some of them did not.

I mean, they all illustrate real-world UI design philosophies, including really bad ones.
posted by straight at 1:10 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


I never studied this stuff but have been fascinated by design vs. use ever since my University put in new meandering sidewalks between buildings only to have the students wear paths in the grass that were more direct.

Think I've told this story before but my Human Factors in Design professor was a Cold War RAF test pilot who ended each class with a story about how a failure of the UX principle being taught had killed one of his friends. Think John Hammond from Jurassic Park but rail thin and wearing tweed, standing there with his cane in front of 40 students doing the whole British quivering-stiff-upper-lip thing while fighting back tears (not always successfully). Easiest A I've ever gotten, and the tests were not forgiving. Dude really knew how to make you take this shit seriously.
posted by Ryvar at 3:31 PM on August 4 [15 favorites]


My nephew's response was, and I quote, "They left out the non brick based ones."

He later argues that, "What they don’t account for is the technology changes in print quality. A lot of the earlier ones are more vague because the prints weren’t as advanced in the 80s when they first started making these. The modern ones are much more realistic and organized"

I thought it was a cool article, but I guess I'm not a big enough Lego geek to engage...
posted by Chuffy at 5:33 PM on August 4 [1 favorite]


I would like to see how the various Lego UI art has changed over time. Improved print quality is definitely part of it, but as everyone complains Lego also embraced specialization more as time went on. And third, real world technology and pop culture conceptions of UI has changed over the years (compare the ST:TOS bridge with ST:TNG, for example).
posted by ckape at 10:16 PM on August 4


Interesting article! Some of the bits about airplane controls - so much easier and more reliable to use if the pilot can immediately tell what the control is by touching it - are reflected in a German court case about Telsa windshield wiper controls. If you want to manually change the speed of the normally automatically controlled wipers, you have to use a touchscreen interface. This guy tried and crashed his car. Slashdot is having an argument about it.
posted by clawsoon at 5:10 AM on August 5


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