Ted Goranson - Personal Blog

The blog of Ted Goranson. This is both a personal blog and an ongoing update on his projects.

Cinema and User Interface

Published: 30 Aug 2011

Aaron Koblin has a well received TED talk, that starts with a quote:

“The culture of the 19th century was defined by the novel, and the 20th century by the cinema. The culture of the 21st century will be defined by the interface."

He does not credit the source, Lev Manovich. Conceivably, this might be traced back to me because 15 years ago I said something similar in quite public forums. Koblin and Manovich are less radical than I try to be.

For some who follow my work, it often seems centered on user interface design, because I try to design novel user interface conventions to match novel abstraction in concept processing systems. In fact I've been addressing a whole food chain from abstract representations that are handy for logical manipulation in a machine to their sibling visual abstractions that provide deep comprehension and ready affordances for humans.

That food chain can be described as:

  • Cognitive Metaphors, that are primarily drawn from cinema, but that leverage other traditions, including calligraphy. These support...
  • User Interfaces, that are advanced, coherent and 'soft,' and that have several different views. These are a visual grammar for...
  • Soft Abstractions, that are the formal foundation for new logical models of ordinary cognitive processes. These map to...
  • Functional Units, probably arrows or in the streamer, reactive filters. Each are implemented in code.

So in a way, cinematic grammars are at the tip of the food chain. This is the motivation behind the FilmsFolded study, which intends to devise (or discover) formal mappings of certain cinematic narrative devices.

© copyright Ted Goranson, 2011