RE: WAP White Paper

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From: Damien Morton (
Date: Tue Sep 26 2000 - 10:02:16 PDT

I guess what I took away from your paper was the impression that the
quantification of human factors issues and device capabilities could be used
to automatically produce an interface for a given device from some
abstracted content definition. A worthy goal, but one which I see as fraught
with difficulty, and one which will likely produce substandard interfaces
when compared to those produced for a specific device.
Perhaps I overreached in reading your paper.
Whilst I agree that there will a large range of devices that connect to 'The
network', the content that these devices will be able to access will be
limited by the man-machine interfaces they can offer. For example, you
wouldnt try to browse audiovisual content on a device that supported only a
4x16 character text interface. Our highest bandwidth input device is our
eyes, and our highest bandwidth output device is our hands (closely followed
by voice).
An auditory interface will require a completely different 'site structure'
than a visual interface. The machine-human bandwidth is different, and the
auditory medium presents its information in a 1D format rather than a 2D
format. Of course, there are transformations that can be applied to 2D
information to present it in 1D format. I think we can see that in current
WAP browsers, where people click through menu after menu after menu.
Like you, I can see broad classes of devices. I see them as defined by input
capabilities, output capabilities, cpu, storage and bandwidth capabilities.
I can see content producers specialising in a range of classes of devices,
and they they will be dealing with the issue of scaling and transforming
their content to fit those classes of devices.
How wide a range of devices can be supported from a given set of content is
going to be interesting to see.
I dont know if anyone has noticed, but Macromedia has been pushing its Flash
vector animation technology as a device scaleable platform for content. In
its current incarnation it supports a javascript-like language, an xml
parser and dom interface, persistent socket connections (for IM-like
applications), and http transactions, as well as its stock-and-trade vector
content. Its a 200K application/applet, and one theyd love to get into the
next generation of handhelds.
So heres a tech that scales with screensize. But thats all it scales with,
and even then, an application desiged for 2" x 3" screen isnt going to be
the same as one designed for a 17" monitor.
 -----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 12:38 PM
To: Damien Morton;
Subject: Re: WAP White Paper

Thank you for the input. I agree with most of what you've said.
However, I do think that there will be many clients in the future and that
there will be a range of clients from phones to PDA's to your oven to your
PC. What I was trying to outline in the paper is a method to distinguish
the independent variables which compose the way a user interacts with a
device. I don't think there is any magic or even a great amount of art in
interacting with machines. We open communication channels by seeing,
touching, saying, etc.
Though the method I've pointed out is crude, I think it's important to
recognize that:
    1. The interaction between a human being and a machine interface can be
quantified (at least by a reasonable approximation)
    2. There will be many clients to content that will live on "The
    3. We need a system to measure interactions between the user and the
clients which present the data in the network.
I do agree with you that the devices will change. The interface to a lot of
these devices will become voice driven. Current clients to the information
living on "The Network" will become more advanced, thereby allowing for more
"communication channels" to the user. At the same time, many devices will
begin to interact with the network and present an interface to the user (
such as your refrigerator :-) ). I think that There will always be a range
of devices in the user interface capabilities offered. It's just that the
devices themselves will change. Somewhere, on some device, there will
always be bandwidth limitations, display limitations, cpu limitations, etc.

----- Original Message -----
From: Damien <> Morton
To: '' <mailto:''> ;
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 8:55 AM
Subject: RE: WAP White Paper

Cute - Doing dynamic programming to optimise the selection of user interface
modules used to deliver content to a variety of devices. Optimise for
minimum keystrokes.
This is not a technology I am looking forward to working with. Getting
something to display in 2 browsers on 2 platforms on screens 800x600x16 is
difficult enough.
Trying to create a mechanism whereby the same content (transformed, of
course) can be made to work on devices with 100x60x1 screens, telephone
keypads and 9.6Kbit bandwidth through devices with 320x200x16 screens,
stylus and/or keyboard, 9.6-64Kbit+ bandwidth, and on to 800x600x16 etc etc
with 56K modems etc etc. Not fun at all. It just wont work. Sorry. You are
just going ot have to have a couple of departments full of people - one for
the small screen experience and one for the big screen experience.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2000 6:27 PM
Subject: WAP White Paper

A while back I posted something about a white paper on wireless development.
Some of you showed some interest in reading it. I am looking forward to
hearing your constructive critisims as I know that there are a lot of you on
this list who know a lot more than I do.
With that said, this is the preliminary draft. Please send me your thoughts
on it.

Reza B'Far

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