Being thoughtful in the Information Age, demo’ing the Muse App with Adam Wiggins


Muse is an iPad app built as a “tool for thought in the Information Age”. It’s officially launching out of beta at the end of August.

Muse is a spatial canvas for your research notes, reading material, sketches, screenshots, and bookmarks. Arrange, scribble, find patterns and insights, make sense of your world.

Creator Adam Wiggins @hirodusk is joining us to demo the app, but more importantly to cover the philosophies and ways of working behind Muse—how to approach problems thoughtfully, how to use tools for thought (Muse being just one) to maximize your decision-making power.

We’ll cover aspects of the technical or design decisions in the product, and have time for Q&A.

Muse came out of the Ink & Switch industrial research lab, which works on digital tools for creativity and productivity. Check out the April 2019 research behind Muse.

And of course, we refer to the Ink & Switch Local First Software report as part of our own approach here at Fission.

RSVP to get an email reminder and calendar invite »

Join us Thursday, August 6, 2020 4:00 PM


Resources mentioned as part of the discussion:

Bret Victor’s Humane Representation of Thought:

Bonnie A. Nardi’s “A Small Matter of Programming”:

A Small Matter of Programming asks why it has been so difficult for end users to command programming power and explores the problems of end user-driven application development that must be solved to afford end users greater computational power. Drawing on empirical research on existing end user systems, A Small Matter of Programming analyzes cognitive, social, and technical issues of end user programming. In particular, it examines the importance of task-specific programming languages, visual application frameworks, and collaborative work practices for end user computing, with the goal of helping designers and programmers understand and better satisfy the needs of end users who want the capability to create, customize, and extend their applications software. The ideas in the book are based on the author’s research on two successful end user programming systems - spreadsheets and CAD systems - as well as other empirical research. Nardi concentrates on broad issues in end user programming, especially end users’ strengths and problems, introducing tools and techniques as they are related to higher-level user issues.

Jeff Raskin’s “The Humane Interface”

The book puts forward a large number of interface design suggestions, from fairly trivial ones to radical ones. The overriding theme is that current computer interfaces are often poor and set up users to fail, as a result of poor planning (or lack of planning) by programmers and a lack of understanding of how people actually use software.

Raskin often refers to the computer he designed, the Canon Cat, as an example of a system that implemented the various measures he advocates; the Canon Cat is often considered the first information appliance. Many of the ideas presented in the Canon Cat and The Humane Interface were later adopted by Raskin in his Archy project, and later by his son Aza.

Raskin includes a chapter demonstrating four models of quantifying the efficiency of a software interface: the GOMS keystroke model, Raskin’s own efficiency measure, Fitts’ law and Hick’s law. All are intended to minimize the amount of time required for the user to perform any specific task.

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