Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Quick lesson in usability

Somehow I’ve managed to misplace my iPod carrying case– actually a leather-like carrying case for my old Canon Elph, with a loop for your belt– and now I find it rather harder to use the iPod. Despite those ads featuring people break dancing while holding their iPods, having the thing securely attached to me goes a long way to determining its usability.

Things like carrying cases tend to be afterthoughts in today’s consumer electronics world, but as we move to a situation in which 1) people carry devices persistently rather than episodically (as my colleagues at the Institute like to say), and 2) they carry more of them, case design is going to become more important.

And how do those dancers manage to do all those twirls and things without wrapping the headphone cord around themeselves, cutting off the air supply to their brains, and falling unconscious?

[To the tune of Sussan Deihim & Richard Horowitz, “Armour,” from the album Desert Equations: Azax Attra.]


  1. You could get it implanted, like my Mom’s AICD (implanted cardioverter/defibrillator). I mean, you’d need a doctor’s note to get through airport security, but it’d be really cool.

    For a little while, anyway.

  2. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

    February 5, 2004 at 4:32 pm

    I don’t think I’m THAT crazy about the iPod!

    Besides, I’d want a minimum of 40 GB in an implant.

    Plus, if it’s possible to design implants so they look like rippling muscles, that would be a cool value-add.

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