The FeatureGate model of visual selection

Here’s a great little design truism, gleaned from a paper by cognitive scientist Kyle Cave:

“In our visual system, attention is distributed in the sequence:
1. location
2. color
3. shape”

…from a post to the CHI-web mailing list by Rummel Bernard. Here is the paper: Cave, K.R. (1999) The FeatureGate model of visual selection. Psychological Research 62, 182-194.

BayCHI East: Jef Raskin

[Update from July 30, 2002: The Open Country domain name seems to owned by some software company now, so I’ve removed the link. Raskin now has the project out on SourceForge.]

I went to the BayCHI East meeting Tuesday night. Jef Raskin is a fascinating person, if not an engaging speaker. He’s obviously a very intelligent guy, but seems to lack the ability to distill his thoughts in to bite-sized chunks.

I like the fact that he’s all about design based on quantifiable measurements. He talked about how more design needs to based on factors that are common to all people. He calls it “Population Independent Design.”

He also has no reservations about bashing designers who aren’t familiar with what he considers the basics: Fitts’ Law, GOMS & Hick’s Law, specifically.

Another thing he mentioned: “People can only pay attention to one thing at a time.” This idea seems to be working its way into the pool of popular knowledge (for example, in The Cluetrain Manifesto, linked in a related post on Evhead).

The thing that surprised me the most was how many people in the audience didn’t accept that the system Raskin describes in The Humane Interface would be better than the current systems built on WIMP. This seems obvious to me – maybe they just hadn’t read his book?

I spoke with him after his talk (got my copy of The Humane Interface signed too). He mentioned that he’s working with the open source community at Open Country to develop a spec for the system described in The Humane Interface. I looked, but couldn’t find anything of the sort on that site.

Please post a comment with your thoughts – especially if you find that spec on Open Country.