Friday, January 11, 2013

Pointing out a myth

Watching toddlers on iPads quickly shows that the claim that the interface is 'intuitive' is quite clearly a complete myth. Not only do you have to understand the logic of haptic control, you also have to get it just right. To know that you tap or swipe is a start, but when it comes down to it, it's a matter of just how you tap or swipe. The margin of error is quite wide. Still, our data shows children engrossed in playful learning, experimenting with pointing. touching, holding and carrying tablets. I'm particularly interested in how the gestures cross from one experience to another. We have video of toddlers mixing pretend cake with a circling motion, swiping as if turning a page on a print book, and even applying some iPad gestures in other contexts, too. I'll definitely be following up on the literature on gesture. Apparently, Adam Kendon's 'Gesture: Visible Action as Utterance' (2004) is a good start. You could also get quite absorbed in the deictic gesture and the segue between pointing and pressing with the first finger. In our video data you can see plenty of fingers poised in mid-air, children guiding adult fingers and vice versa....and then apparently, I'm not the only one who somehow imagines data stuck to my finger when I'm cutting and pasting! It's all fascinating stuff which will be written up in due course, but for moment the idea that iPads are tailor-made for young children has to join the list of myths.

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