Jonathan Harris, an artist who abandoned painting for digital art (most famously, the website mapping emotions "We Feel Fine"), keynoted the Interactive Reality Conference at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.
He shared a set of insights on what makes a good interface and project.
• You can't make something beautiful, you can only showcase beauty.
• Good interfaces are instantly knowable and infinitely masterable.
• Good interfaces are playful, reactive, and self-consistent, like living organisms.
• They have emergent, not decorative, aesthetics.
• They incorporate the micro and the macro.
• They deliver an experience of discovery.
• They are both windows (you look into other realities) and mirror (you connect them to your own).
• If so, so what?
• Is it preferable to silence?
• Is it both timely and timeless?
• Does it articulate a more beautiful world?
• Does it help you be the person you want to be?
And after all that, Jonathan Harris admitted that he was tired of working in the digital environment and was casting about for a project that would move him away from computers. (He recently killed an 18-month-old autobiographical project for a combination of personal-privacy and ethical concerns.) But, he admitted, he thinks it'll be hard to stay away.