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Make It So

Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction 

Published: September 2012 Paperback: 348 pages, ISBN 1-933820-98-5 Digital: ISBN 1-933820-76-4

by Nathan Shedroff & Christopher Noessel

Make It So

Shedroff and Noessel are leaders in their fields. Make It So is well-researched, pragmatic, and entertaining. The authors show us that science fiction can not only give us visions of the future but can help us design a better future as well."

—Brian David Johnson, Futurist and Director, Future Casting and Experience Research, Intel Corporation

Many designers enjoy the interfaces seen in science fiction films and television shows. Freed from the rigorous constraints of designing for real users, sci-fi production designers develop blue-sky interfaces that are inspiring, humorous, and even instructive. By carefully studying these "outsider" user interfaces, designers can derive lessons that make their real-world designs more cutting edge and successful.

Make It So shows:

  • Sci-fi interfaces have been there (almost) from the beginning
  • Sci-fi creates a shared design language that sets audience expectations
  • If an interface works for an audience, there's something there that will work for users
  • Bad sci-fi interfaces can sometimes be the most inspiring
  • There are ten "meta-lessons" spread across hundreds of examples
  • You can use—and not just enjoy—sci-fi in your design work
  • Over 150 lessons and 10 “meta“ lessons that developers can use to enhance their realworld interfaces

“Make It So” Blog

From Sci-fi interfaces

Pillory

After Rico’s fatal mistake in the live fire exercise, he is disgraced, relieved of squad command, and subject to corporal punishment. At the time of his punishment, the squads stand at attention around the square as Rico approaches the pillory at its center. Sergeant Zim pulls the restraints down from housings in the frame and loops them around … Continue reading

Live fire exercise

After the capture the flag exercise, the recruits advance to a live ammo exercise. In this one, the recruits have weapons loaded with live ammo and surge in waves over embankments. They wear the same special vests they did in the prior exercise that detect when they are hit with a laser, flashing briefly with red lights on the … Continue reading

War game equipment

The recruits practice their war skills with capture the flag games. Each participant carries visible-laser weapons (color coded to match the team color) to fire at members of the other team, and wears a special vest that detects when it is hit with a laser, flashing briefly with red lights on the front and back and thereafter delivering a debilitating shock … Continue reading

Federal Services Communiqué

Live video in Starship Troopers works a little bit differently than video messages. When he wants to call his parents in Buenos Aires, he somehow sets up the call (it’s offscreen, so we really don’t know how he does it). When the call goes through, a soldier comes in to the barracks to tell Rico that it’s going through, … Continue reading

Fed Communication Service

When they are in basic training, Carmen and Johnny exchange video messages to stay in touch. Videos are recorded locally to small discs and sent to the other through the Fed post. Carmen has her own computer station in her berth for playing Johnny’’s messages. Johnny uses the single player available on the wall in … Continue reading