Anti UX – Make Me Think

Reading the following two articles got me thinking about the ‘opposite’ of good UX for art interfaces. Interfaces that are playful, poetic, subtle, mysterious. Of course, they still need to be understood to be usable, but a sense of play and discovery in this context is also important.

Modern Media Is a DoS Attack on Your Free Will

How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name

Scramble suits and facial recognition

Today has been spent partly researching into biometrics and facial recognition technology.

Something clearly forseen by Philip K. Dick:
The scramble suit was an invention of the Bell laboratories, conjured up by accident by an employee named S. A. Powers… Basically, his design consisted of a multifaceted quartz lens hooked up to a million and a half physiognomic fraction-representations of various people: men and women, children, with every variant encoded and then projected outward in all directions equally onto a superthin shroudlike membrane large enough to fit around an average human.

As the computer looped through its banks, it projected every conceivable eye color, hair color, shape and type of nose, formation of teeth, configuration of facial bone structure – the entire shroudlike membrane took on whatever physical characteristics were projected at any nanosecond, then switched to the next…
In any case, the wearer of a scramble suit was Everyman and in every combination (up to combinations of a million and a half sub-bits) during the course of each hour. Hence, any description of him – or her – was meaningless.
From A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick.
Published by Not Known in 1977
In the novel, narcotics officers wear these suits to disguise their appearance.
“Now you will notice,” the Lions Club host said, “that you can barely see this individual… because he is wearing what is called a scramble suit…
“Let’s hear it for the vague blur!” the host said loudly…

As it turns out, they have artificial voices as well, leaving “in our minds no characteristics.”

The part that always intrigued me the most in the book is when the main character is in the room with a holograph of himself without realising this fact:

The protagonist is Bob Arctor, member of a household of drug users, who is also living a parallel life as Agent Fred, an undercover police agent assigned to spy on Arctor’s household. Arctor/Fred shields his identity from those in the drug subculture and from the police.

When performing his work as an undercover agent, Arctor goes by the name “Fred” and wears a “scramble suit” that conceals his identity from other officers. Then he is able to sit in a police facility and observe his housemates through “holo-scanners,” audio-visual surveillance devices that are placed throughout the house. Arctor’s use of the drug causes the two hemispheres of his brain to function independently or “compete”. When Arctor sees himself in the videos saved by the scanners, he does not realize that it is him.

Drone Survival Guide

Some reading from my research into the Accomplices concept for the new PG02 brief: Inspired initially by Drone Theory by Grégoire Chamayou.

The US Army defines a drone as a “land, sea or air vehicle that is remotely or automatically controlled”.

…as drones are operated remotely (often by “pilots” sitting in an office on an airbase in the Nevada desert), they carry no risk of American casualties.
….what a CIA operative once called the drone’s “unblinking stare”, the panoptic gaze of its surveillance systems, which compile “archives” of the lives of potential targets based on patterns of repeated behaviour, divergence from which can sometimes be grounds enough for a strike. One of these systems is called “Gorgon’s Stare”.)

The rules nodded through by Hayden allowed drone pilots to shoot at any male of military age whose behaviour corresponded to a “signature” suggestive of suspicious activity. The results of the policy were predictably calamitous for any civilian or non-combatant who happened either to display the stipulated behavioural traits or else just happened to be in harm’s way…Obama conceded that the way the US counts civilian casualties has been a matter of considerable controversy – for instance, everyone killed in a “signature strike” is counted as a legitimate target.