in People

Joy Mountford Interview

I’m happy to see a new interview with Joy Mountford, as I entered this whole field after hearing her lecture at New York University (during her tenure at Apple) over 10 years ago. The idea that someone with a psychology background was making computers easier to use was revolutionary for me. This is only a chat, but she includes some good points…

I think that every five years there has been a shift of the interface paradigm that I have worked within, which also paralleled technology industry waves. Defense business interests shifted into the AI knowledge worker space, then from the specialized AI work into personal computing (Apple), and then consumer electronics (Interval). Now my interests are in ubiquitous computing or the advent of “smart everyday objects.” …Businesses ask me to offer insights on the future of “computing”. That’s obviously a gigantic subject, so I usually talk to them about those user interface paradigms transitions…

I invited some film people to come and work in my group (at Apple) and create new uses and directions for it. They helped create Navigable Movies, which was the precursor to QuickTime VR… I think this was a really good illustration of what happens when you put technology in the hands of people who think of doing different things with it. I believe interface people should foster such creativity and experiments by encouraging some different things to happen.

I’m actually obsessed right now about why everything’s so miniature. People are not getting smaller, yet the displays and control surfaces are. I want the biggest buttons. I don’t care what it costs.

There’s a big difference between industrial design and interface design. …experience design takes place over time… A solution may be found quickly but experience occurs over time — belonging to a bigger space.

I miss the purity of products. I like to know that when I buy a phone it just makes phone calls and is optimally designed for that.