‘Magic Ink’ and the evils of interaction design!


Over on Coding the Markets there is an interesting discussion around Bret Victor and his treatise on UI design ‘Magic Ink‘ from (2006) where he uncovers the evils of interaction design

Here is my contribution to the discussion:

Yes Bret Victor is a real inspiration. I have copies of most of his writing in my DevonThink.

I even grabbed the ‘Invention video’ (2012) on my rarely updated tumblelog in February (www.detyro.co.uk). In fact we liked the video so much we also ran it as a Tech talk within Caplin :)


It’s great that Bret references Edward Tufte (again an inspiration of ours).

I was waiting for him to also mention Deiter Rams then we would have had a full house of people that inspire (me)!


We are working on a product for creating structured products at the moment the opportunities for applying magic ink is obvious! (I agree with your take that most financial software is within the information category, but we should also think beyond that… considering opportunities of ‘Manipulation software’ can offer very interesting, so too can integrating  ‘Communication software’ through including social/trending aspects too)

Some takeaways for me include:

“…good manipulation software must provide superb visualization as well. This establishes the feedback loop that is critical for all creative activity—the manipulator must see the effects of her manipulation. Thus, manipulation software design is also a significant graphic design challenge.”

http://worrydream.com/MagicInk/#p246

“The first step toward the information software revolution is widespread recognition of the need for design. It must be universally understood that information software is not a machine, but a medium for visual communication…”

http://worrydream.com/MagicInk/#p256

[On CSS...]  “the larger and more germane fault is the attempt to serve as both tool and platform, thereby succeeding as neither.”

Just when I started to think the GUI was going to be replaced by the VUI… seems we were just getting warmed up.


I agree with you about the radical implications… but often it’s a case of finding the radicals that are prepared to ‘recognise the need for design’ to begin the journey… but once the box is opened…

one day all software will be ‘magic ink’ :)


For more on Bret (and there is a LOT more!) go http://worrydream.com


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