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Google's House of Cards 115

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the remembering-webos dept.
theodp writes "In 'The Design That Conquered Google,' The New Yorker's Matt Buchanan reports that 'cards' — modeled after real cards — are set to become one of the dominant ways in which Google presents certain types of information to users. The power of a card as a visual-organization metaphor according to Matias Duarte (lead designer of Android), is that 'it makes very clear the atomic unity of things; it's still flexible while creating a kind of regularity.' Hey, maybe that Bill Atkinson was really on to something with that dadgum HyperCard software of his back in the '80s!"
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Google's House of Cards

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  • by WillAdams (45638) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @10:17AM (#43740637) Homepage

    Here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoomracks [wikipedia.org]

    I just want to see a tool which makes it easy to collect information, sort it out, edit it and keep it all consistent --- been using tools for this since Zoomracks came out, and still haven't found the perfect tool.

  • Words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hypotensive (2836435) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @10:18AM (#43740657)
    The main advantage of presenting something as a card is that the word "card" is different from the word "page", and people are kind of tired of hearing the word "page" now.
    • Re:Words (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tnk1 (899206) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @10:23AM (#43740701)

      Well, for those who remember actually making out notecards for school work, there was a sense that a "card" actually represented a different way of presenting data that was more concise, and the understanding that space was at a premium. You also were able to manipulate them a lot more easily than pages of paper, as they were both smaller and made of more rigid stock, so the understanding was that ordering would not always be sequentially in a fixed page order.

      Whether that is what people are thinking of today when they talk about "cards", I don't know. It did make sense as a metaphor back in the days of HyperCard, though.

    • Re:Words (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2013 @10:24AM (#43740717)
      Googler here. Actually, the problem is internal to Google -- it's too easy to confuse (web) page with (Larry) Page.
    • by hsmith (818216)
      I also think a "card" forces you to think in a more refined space. It forces you to intelligently (ideally) reduce things down. eg: With a piece of paper you can write forever (a page), with a card, you must condense to utilize the space.

      Cards are a decent metaphor for the form factor.
      • Re:Words (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fwarren (579763) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @01:40PM (#43742799) Homepage

        Much like classic FORTH programming widh disk blocks. 1 BLOCK = 1K = 16 lines of 64 characters. Any word/function/definition needed to fit in 15 lines of text (The 1st of the 16 lines was used for comments). You had the ability to extend a definition beyond one screen of text but it was usually considered bad form. Typically if it would not fit, it was natures way of telling you that you did not undertand the problem well enough to code a proper solution. Clarity comes as you are forced to break things down into there smallest components.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. If Hypercard was so incredible, why was it never adapted to the PC.
      It was nice, but not that nice.

      • by WillAdams (45638)

        There were a number of HyperCard clones for Windows:

          SuperCard
          Runtime Revolution
          Asymetrix Toolbook

  • It is slightly overwhelming in its information density compared to most social networks, and its spare use of color around the edges lends it a feeling of lukewarmness.

    The mobile interface on Google+ just seems frenetic to me, in a TMI sort of way. Others may like being visually assaulted, but it's not for me.

  • WebOS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dloflin (110712) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @10:25AM (#43740725)

    Also sounds like the dominant paradigm in WebOS...

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Also sounds like the dominant paradigm in WebOS...

      well putting ui/display elements in boxes which separate different elements from each other and also group same kind of elements together... hmm........... yeah that's truly new.

    • Re:WebOS (Score:4, Interesting)

      by noahisaac (956470) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @10:51AM (#43741037) Homepage
      Well, Android became significantly more webOS-like when google poached him from Palm. I hope it continues that trend. I'm very sad that webOS is essentially dead now. The multi-tasking elements of webOS are far superior to that of Android and iOS.
      • Have you had a chance to use a version that supports same-screen multitasking yet? On a large enough screen it's basically true desktop style multitasking.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Oh *gasp*, The EPOC32 (predecessor of SymbianOS) on the Psion did this before you were even born!
          (It doesn't matter if it was great. It matters that it *did* it.)

    • Re:WebOS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sabah Arif (830070) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @11:14AM (#43741331)
      The similarity to WebOS is no coincidence since Matias Duarte was the chief designer at Palm before moving to Google. He even gave demos at the Pre/WebOS launch.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Lest we forget Palm did a cards metaphor in WebOS, which was quite excellent.

    Google Now creeps me the heck out! I'd feel better about it if it wasn't a Google product. I feel my privacy has a little protection when this stuff isn;t so thoroughly centralized in the hands of a single entity.

    • I do believe the chief design guy from WebOS went to Google after Palm folded.

    • Re:WebOS (Score:4, Informative)

      by Dishevel (1105119) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @12:37PM (#43742093)

      If you have a Google account.
      Go here. [google.com]
      Once you see that you can see exactly what Google knows, and that you can have control over who can see it you will not worry as much.
      Google has more info than anyone else, but many places have a lot of info on you. Most hide what they know about you and many sell the raw info.
      Google, So far, only uses the info to target ads to you. Not really a bad thing. I would rather see a targeted ad than one for Maxipads or Viagra.
      Google also give you quite a bit of control over it. The major plus though is that they do not split it up and make it difficult for you.
      Google search, Play store, YouTube, Google Plus, Gmail, Drive and more. All those settings, all that information displayed for you to control in one place.
      Name someone else that does that for you.

      • by Sporkinum (655143)

        That doesn't work they way you think it works. They have tons more information on you they don't show. Just because you have search history off doesn't mean they don't have it. It only means they don't show it to you.

        Concerning WebOS. My wife tried android on her HP touchpad and promptly went back to WebOS. She probably uses the touchpad more than her desktop.

      • by PapayaSF (721268)

        Google, so far, only uses the info to target ads to you. Not really a bad thing. I would rather see a targeted ad than one for Maxipads or Viagra.

        I think you are missing the point here. The awkwardness and privacy concerns arise from the targeting: e.g. when a middle-aged guy gets a targeted ad for Viagra. Or, in my case, when some Google research about STDs later gave me targeted ads for STD tests.

        • by Dishevel (1105119)

          Go you your dashboard.
          Under web search. Remove those searches from you history.
          Google will no longer use those searches in targeting ads to you. Simple.

  • I understand it's utility when, say, you enter the name of a nearby store and it presents info about it, its hours, etc; or a plane flight, and it tells you the details of the flight.

    But sometimes I just want plain, unadulterated search, based on the terms as entered. I don't even want the card presented first and THEN the search results (as it does now). I JUST WANT SEARCH RESULTS, NO CARDS.

    I've turned off ALL the cards, all the Google Now stuff... but it doesn't go away on my Android device. Despite al

    • by marsu_k (701360)

      But sometimes I just want plain, unadulterated search, based on the terms as entered.

      Open a browser, type search terms on the address bar, submit?

      • by bessie (212155)

        Well, I meant from the search bar on an Android phone. I think the built-in browser also uses the cards, so I'd need to use the Firefox or Chrome search - not sure even those would work, depending on if they themselves are using Google for their search.

        I opened a browser, typed "What time is it in California" and got a "card" for the time in California, which I don't want - just vanilla search results.

        So your suggestion doesn't work as such.

        - Tim

        • by marsu_k (701360)
          Granted, I don't run vanilla Android anywhere at the moment - but this is what happens both on a stock S3 and Transformer Infinity, running "Browser", i.e. some-webkit-based-browser-that's-not-Chrome. I'm sorry if this is a WORKSFORME-type of response.
          • by bessie (212155)

            I'm running stock vanilla Android on a Galaxy Nexus.

            Lemme check here:

            "What time is it in California" using:

            Google Search Bar: 1st response is a 'card'
            Android Stock Browser: 1st response is a 'card'
            Firefox for Android: 1st response is a "card" (but scaled down in size - Google is default Firefox search engine)
            Chrome for Android: 1st response is a "card" (full sized - Google is also default search engine)
            DuckDuckGo: 1st response is a "card", but it looks like a different implementation - it says "Computer by

            • by bessie (212155)

              Typo - "Computed by WolframJAlpha"

              - Tim

            • by marsu_k (701360)
              It sounds really annoying, and I'm sorry I'm not able to help you. Perhaps Google offers a different Google "experience" on Nexus devices? On a totally unrelated note - boy does the new Slashdot mobile site suck. I never read this via my mobile due to the "competence" of /. web devs, just occasionally check responses to comments. It seems to go into an infinite loop of replies, I'm able to see our discussion repeated ad infinitum. *golf clap*
              • by bessie (212155)

                I haven't tried the mobile site lately - I gave up when it was taking forever for them to fix the bug of thumb-scroll being reeeeeeeeely slow, but I've heard they fixed that since.

                - Tim

            • by marsu_k (701360)
              Actually, trying your example query, the first response I get is a "card" as well. Perhaps my queries are usually so obscure / I use bookmarks too much that these don't appear? But... it's a single "card". One flick of the thumb and it's out of the view, the "card" doesn't show in subsequent result pages. This really is your issue? I'd be infinitely pissed if those were all the search results, but as such... really, not such a big deal, in my opinion.
              • by bessie (212155)

                Yes, just a single card - not a whole result set of them. Not a horrible problem, no indeed, but there's also often a delay between the first 'card' result and the rest of the results, which is annoying. It's as if Google is saying "You want this one, right?" and waiting for a bit, and then going to search for the rest of the results if I stay on the results page.

                I just want the result immediately, not a "You want THIS, right? right? ... okay, I guess you might want something else - I'll go get some more

    • You can disable Google Now (I think) and just use the search. Check the setting in Google Now, and/or try disabling the Google Now app itself from your device's main settings > apps.

      • by bessie (212155)

        I disabled it through all possible means (disabled all cards individually, disabled cards/Google Now generally. It reduces their number, but not entirely... as I mention above, for example, I type "What time is it in California" and get a "card" saying "It's 5 oclock in California" or whatever. I don't want that, I want search results only, no "guessing what I REALLY want" stuff.

        I can get around it through using other browsers' search functions, perhaps, or alternative search apps like DuckDuckGo.

        It'd just

        • I disabled it through all possible means (disabled all cards individually, disabled cards/Google Now generally. It reduces their number, but not entirely... as I mention above, for example, I type "What time is it in California" and get a "card" saying "It's 5 oclock in California" or whatever. I don't want that, I want search results only

          Those aren't Google Now, which is why disabling everything in Now has no effect on them. Those are search results (I think the cards are all technically part of Knowledge

          • by bessie (212155)

            Ahhh - thanks for explaining. The way they appear, they *look* a lot like the "card"/Google Now functionality; too bad I can't tell Google Search not even to display those. I wouldn't mind so much if 1) they didn't take up extra space at the top of the results screen, and 2) there wasn't that delay between showing that first result and showing the rest (at least on the phone, perhaps not in a full browser).

            *sigh*

            - Tim

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If I wanted to use a card catalog I'd print off pages of search results on 3x5 cards.

    Nothing is easier than line by line search results sorted by most relevant. All making them virtual card shaped will do is add more room for advertisement, which after all is the real play here.

  • >> neat card in a stack

    So...one card at a time, with a primarily forward/back interface...like PowerPoint?

    >> On a large monitor, the grid spans three cards wide; on a smaller one, just two.

    Oh no - didn't we just get Microsoft to retreat from THAT metaphor?

  • Hey, maybe that Bill Atkinson was really on to something with that dadgum HyperCard software of his back in the '80s!"

    And perhaps Microsoft is onto something applying it to current OS interfaces with Live Tiles.

    • And perhaps Microsoft is onto something applying it to current OS interfaces with Live Tiles.

      Certainly Microsoft (and many others; they weren't the only ones doing similar things) were on to something a long time ago when they first came up with the UI design principles that evolved into the "Metro" design language, which whatever the problems are with the way they've done some of the concrete implementations, the basic principles are sound,

  • ... for the inevitable patent in three, two, one ....

  • Did consulting work for BP back in the '80s when they were strictly a Mac shop. Hypercard was used extensively in homebrew apps like BP's MSDN stack.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    From the article.

    [Google] as late as 2009, according to its first visual designer, Douglas Bowman, was “without a person at (or near) the helm who thoroughly understands the principles and elements of Design.”

    and also

    Larry Page took over as C.E.O. Besides moving to streamline Google’s increasingly sprawling scope as a company, [and] he immediately launched Project Kennedy, an initiative to give all of Google’s products a more consistent look, so everything would be easier to use.

    Thank God someone's finally looking to the design of Google, so it will no longer be cursed with the most famously easy to use search page that every other search engine on earth chose to imitate. /s

    Seriously, Google has always been a favorite because of its good design. Saying it suffered from a lack of designers is more evidence that designers suck than that Google had a problem.

    • this. the interface of google's services is becoming nicer to look at and harder to actually use. I dare you to try to sign out from gmail on a cellphone. an android cellphone. open the gmail page in the main browser, and sign in. and sign out is nowhere.

    • Thank God someone's finally looking to the design of Google, so it will no longer be cursed with the most famously easy to use search page that every other search engine on earth chose to imitate.

      Outside of the search page, many of Google's products UI's haven't been so great, and often related products had radically different UIs for similar functions; having someone in charge of design and an effort at a unified and consistent look and feel across Google products could be a quite good thing (and, IMO, has

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      Seriously, Google has always been a favorite because of its good design. Saying it suffered from a lack of designers is more evidence that designers suck than that Google had a problem.

      You seem to be misunderstanding the article you quoted. It wasn't a lack of *designers*, it was a lack of _consistent_ design.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You might say that - I couldn't possibly comment.

  • Didn't we all have to do virtual 'cards' in 'decks' when offering WML to Nokia phones, in far off days when they were the main force? Didn't seem to last long, but it's still part of my elderly Dreamveaver.
  • Metro (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jader3rd (2222716) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @10:46AM (#43740977)

    The power of a card as a visual-organization metaphor according to Matias Duarte (lead designer of Android), is that 'it makes very clear the atomic unity of things; it's still flexible while creating a kind of regularity.'

    So... they're Live Tiles?

  • Points for style (Score:4, Informative)

    by Halo5 (63934) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @10:51AM (#43741035) Homepage

    I don't really have an opinion on cards one way or another but, as a Southerner, I applaud the proper use of the word "dadgum." I haven't seen that one in a while...

  • Wait for iOS 7 to come out with a flat UI and cards and then they will sue Samsung and Google for ripping off their UI "again".

    • HyperCard [wikipedia.org]?

    • Come on, the damn summary already provided an Apple product that shipped for a decade or so that uses this idea.

      I know that this is Slashdot, where nobody actually reads the article, but it's in the summary!

      • Come on, the damn summary already provided an Apple product that shipped for a decade or so that uses this idea.

        For very large values of "a decade or so" (Hypercard was released in 1987, which is 26 years ago), and very loose definitions of "this idea" (while both have a concept called "cards", if you remember -- or use Google Image Search to discover -- what Hypercard's actual UI was like, there is very little similarity.)

  • When you think of devices with small screens,
    the idea of a card paradigm is better than a "page" or a "screen".

    The distinction is important. People intuitively know that a card usually
    expresses a single idea, and that is likely to be part of a larger collection
    of cards (frequently sequential)

    So Kudos to Google, and I hope they can make it work.

  • I think the best size for card to put some data on is 187.325 mm x 82.55 mm. The card should be put face down, nine edge first.
  • by fredrated (639554) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @11:35AM (#43741525) Journal

    to Larry Card?

  • ' Cards' are a superior knowledge design element to wading pool depths of 3 deep for learning. For ocean depths and deeper universes, ' Cards' are water-wings for competitive swimmers.

  • How long until there's a great game for mobile devices which is a 3-D rendered mystery with puzzles to figure out an an errie, Mysty world to explore.... Ohh, can't wait!

  • You're nothing but a pack of cards!

  • Sound a lot like Popup windows to me... and in my humble experience users don't like popup windows. Maybe that was just because a popup usually meant something wrong.
  • trello (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thegreatemu (1457577) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @01:01PM (#43742377)

    As a good example, you should take a look at trello [trello.com] , which is basically an organization/design/progress list tool, where each atomic activity is represented by a card. I've been using it extensively for about a year now, and the card+board metaphor really seems to make intuitive sense to everyone I've introduced to it.

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @01:19PM (#43742553) Homepage

    If you're running on Windows 7 or Vista, press CTRL, TAB and the "Windows key" at the same time and watch what happens.

    That's "cards" mode. Did you know Windows could do that? Is it useful?

    • WinKey+Tab is an alternate presentation of the standard Alt+Tab window. I don't find it particularly useful, but I imagine someone does. Perhaps when working with many similar windows?
    • If you're running on Windows 7 or Vista, press CTRL, TAB and the "Windows key" at the same time and watch what happens.

      If you try "at the same time", its hard to guess what will happen; if press and hold in the order suggested by the order you put the keys, you get normal Ctrl-Tab behavior.

      If you do Win+Tab you get a display of the open windows that you can page through with Tab as long as you hold the Win key
      If you do Ctrl+Win+Tab (or Win+Ctrl+Tab, but the both modifiers have to come before the Tab) you ge

  • As a cousin of mine is accused of saying. Motifs come, leave and return in computer science as in any other discipline. Bill Atkinsons HyperCard was vey good. Web browser URLs supplanted this several later. But URLs never really captured the geometric metaphors possible in Bill's systems (chains, grids, loop, decks, etc.) .
  • I thought a bus full of icons and widgets collided with a touch UI...

    (this from a daily Android phone and tablet user...)

  • In this G+ UI update, I really hate the 3 columns of cards layout. Very hard to find info. I can switch to 1 column only, but: 1 - Do not works on communities; 2 - The column keeps using a small width, instead of use more side space.
  • The "Metro" live tiles are small animated cards. They even flip and float like real cards when you interact with them.
  • ... that's Digital Equipment Corporation m'boy, the mommy of the VAX (and other stuff.) There was an extensive network (the dearly departed DECNET) wide repository of "knowledge" called "Notes" [wordpress.com]. If I were to squint and stress my gray matter, I might be able to recall that Xerox/PARC had a similar unstructured knowledge base. Now you got me imagining tons of organizations that had these hordes of "useful information." No, that can't be. Sorry. Forget all this stuff.
  • *cough*webOS*cough*

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