Below I will be analyzing google maps, the stapler and the microwave oven with the terms Triggers, Rules, Feedback and Loops and Modes.
In analyzing, I will be using google maps to show a given location on a map.
Presuming that we are already on google.com/maps, the first trigger for our location-finding microinteraction would be to use the text field. As soon as we enter the site, there is a system initiated trigger, that activates the search field. We know that the white text fields are used to write in, and it even has a label saying “Search Google Maps” a small magnifying glass also helps people who might not be able to read, to figure out the function of the text field. Using the most interesting parts of the major rules for triggers:
I think google does this pretty well, the draw on our existing knowledge of text fields, but also elaborates with both a textual label and a symbol. The text field is placed on the map, indicating it’s relation to it. As long as you write the same thing in the search field, you will get the same result (But based on your google account history, it might be different from other people). As you start typing, google will start suggesting locations that are clickable, that is a way to bring the data forward. The search field is definitely the most visible thing apart from the map it self.
The suggestion of addresses while you type is also a rule. After typing, you can either pick the location you deem the correct one from a list, or you can just press enter, and google will pick the one it thinks you meant. A rule for the suggestions seems to be that it bases the result on your current geographic location. If you type an address that google has no suggestions for, it ask you to add the location to the map. If you press enter, you will still be taken to googles best guess.
Once you select a location, the map pans and zooms to the location on the map. A small red pin, shows you the exact location on the map. You also get a new bar to the left, providing relevant information about the location, such as pictures, opening-hours etc. As mentioned before, if you type a location that google is not sure about, it will ask you with text to add the location to the map. If you press enter, you will still be taken to googles best guess.
Loops and modes
For the described action, I dont think I encounter any loops or modes. Google does have modes available in that you can switch to the directions interface, or choose satellite view etc.
To start of with it feels weird to analyze this sort of low technological and practical artefact with a model that goes into such details of several steps of interaction. On the other hand, you know about the exact workings of an object such as this, nothing is really hidden from you. You could disassemble the stapler and look inside it, which y0u wouldn’t be able to with Google maps.
The quote “form follows function” associated with Louis Sullivan, comes to mind in a case like this. There is not really a trigger on the stapler, rather the whole stapler is a trigger. What it looks like, also determines most of its use, although you might not know that there are small metal staples inside, you will quickly find out, if you press/punch it.
There are no real rules with a stapler, except for the natural laws. I can staple pieces of paper (or finger) together, if I apply enough force to it. I can access the staple cartridge inside it, if I flip the upper part the other direction. If I don’t properly reassemble it, it wont staple anything.
Again these are all physical. You feel the resistance of the paper and stapler when you press down, when you reach a certain point, you feel the staple break through and a clacking sound informing you that the small metal staple has been bent against the lower portion of the stapler. If you try to staple something without having staples in it, the only feedback is that no staple comes out of it.
Loops and modes
You could look at the staple as having two modes. A regular mode and an open mode. The regular mode is used for stapling paper in locations where the inner space of the stapler allows the paper to fit. The open mode is used both for stapling in the middle of a larger paper and also to access the cartridge inside to reload the stapler with new staples.
This feels more like the sort of object the model was meant for. Again since we don’t have direct access to inner parts and the code inside, it is hard to describe the rules, loops and modes completely. The most we can do is try stuff out and see what happens.
The oven has many buttons and many triggers. The biggest trigger is the knob for setting time, weight and choosing from the auto programs. All of these buttons are labeled with text, but otherwise have no real information.
The oven cannot be started while open, and the oven will stop if the door is opened as well.
Both a rule and feedback is that pressing a button results in both tactile feedback, but also a beep. Turning the knob, changes what is shown on the small LED display. The selected amount of time for the oven to cook, for example. When the oven is started, a light is turned on inside the oven, and the plate inside will turn around. A humming sound from the oven also tells us that it is running.
Loops and modes
You could look at the ovens mode in two ways. Physical or in the display. Physically, the oven has an opened and closed mode as described above. Specific rules and limitations are in place when the door is open. Using the knob, you can go into auto-programme selection mode, or you can be in time-setting mode.
Comments on the model
A weakness of this model, is that you might not always be able to tell which triggers, rules are present from an outside perspective. Even with a lot of testing, you might not find them all. With hypercomplex interactions, such as big algorithms, no living human might be able to give an answer to what the exact rules are.
With some artefacts, like the stapler, there might not even be many/any microinteractions that are not also the feature of the artefact.
Some rules seem to be feedback and visa versa.