Sunday, November 27, 2011

From writing code to clicking a button

Steve Silberman's article "The Sketchbook of Susan Kare, the Artist Who Gave Computing a Human Face" is a fascinating guided tour of the birth of icon-driven computing at Apple. It all began with a pad of graph paper, each square being a pixel....
Once software was developed that enabled Kare to start brainstorming digitally, she mined ideas from everywhere: Asian art history, the geeky gadgets and toys that festooned her teammates’ cubicles, and the glyphs that Depression-era hobos chalked on walls to point the way to a sympathetic household. The symbol on every Apple command key to this day — a stylized castle seen from above — was commonly used in Swedish campgrounds to denote an interesting sightseeing destination.

Kare command key
Kare’s work gave the Mac a visual lexicon that was universally inviting and intuitive. Instead of thinking of each image as a tiny illustration of a real object, she aimed to design icons that were as instantly comprehensible as traffic signs.
Kare icon for "volume"
For other musings on the frontiers of humans vis à vis science and technology, consider Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human; Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensions; The Mind's Eye (first edition with a signed bookplate) and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by the always fascinating Oliver Sacks; and The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves.

“Sacks writes not just as a doctor and a scientist but also as a humanist with a philosophical and literary bent.” —New York Times

1 comment:

  1. Those images remind me a bit of those QR codes we see everywhere now days. Perhaps it was an "inspiration" for the designer of the QR Code.