What time is it?

Is it midnight or noon?

That is often the question that arises from people dealing in time zones outside of the USA that use 24 hours to signify a day's hours (instead of the USA using two 12 hour segments in a day), when someone says at "12 o'clock".

Confusion. It seems that much of this world creates confusion from lack of consistency. Different measurement systems of all sorts (time, weight, liquid, year, etc.) allow for understanding that interface with less depth and thus results in barriers to knowledge.

How many hours are in a day? That's obvious. 24. Ask a child that in the USA while they are learning about time, and the answer may surprise you. It seems you have to unlearn what you know due to divergent systems.

Many thanks to Pete Boardman's www.24hourtime.info site for exemplifying the use of 24 hour measurement clocks.

So why deal with confusion of a 12 clock? Is it because people have a hard time counting past 12? I think not. Well, one answer is because we have to. Or do we? We can adopt whatever time counting system we want.

Why do you think the military uses a 24 hour system?

Don't even get me started on Daylight Savings Time.

Give me 24 hours in a day, the reality, instead of splitting the day into 2 parts of 12 which makes one feel like there is less time in the day. I'd rather keep with the natural rhythms of the solar system.


Interface or Design?

Good design, like good interface, should not be obvious. It should be subtle, and yet be strong enough to get the message intended across to the person interacting with it.

Interface, considered by many to be a subset of design, is in my mind is even more subtle and pervasive.

We interface with everything every moment of every day. And humans have been doing so for a very long time, even before design was perfected to be borne as a profession.

As many are familiar, an interface is known as an User Interface (UI) on a display to interact with to move things around, show pictures or movies and read text. In other words control the workspace. However, that is just the "virtual space". The human interface is the computer input: most notably the keyboard and mouse to most. While computers have other means of interfacing with the device (speech, eye-tracking, brain-wave), these are not as well refined or implemented at this time.

Today's computers are simply complex tools. Tools of older generations of humans had tools of wood, stone, etc. to interact with their world. Tools come in many forms, including: pencil and paper, fork and knife, water in a glass, chest of drawers with clothes, gas stove to cook food, lock and key, etc. Each a technology at the time invented. Collectively, also each an interface.

Architecture is one of the best human interfaces ever created. People interact with the spaces they live and work and gather in. Well architected interfaces last many decades or even centuries. With good construction materials, even millenniums. Well done things tend to be kept in use.

A book is a great interface that has lasted centuries. It contains information in text and sometimes pictures and/or diagrams. It is portable, can be easily transferred, and has the ability to become a historical item when it survives for a long time (and thus an indirect interface to that time period).

Good signage, a must to inform someone in an unfamiliar territory or provide a warning, is also an interface. It communicates to the person a message.

That signage is really useful when in a vehicle, an interface to move you faster than walking.

In short, anything that interacts with something else is an interface. Even the mind interacts with the human body to interact with the "outside" world.


Serving Black & White

Black and white have an intimate relationship.

Together they carry the connotations of good and evil, light and dark, positive and negative, yin and yang. Without one you cannot have the other.

Traditionally, black ink has been printed on white paper. As goes so many technological advances, cost is involved. So much so, that ink was expensive and minimal usage was necessary. However, other understandings emerged from this circumstance. Specifically, the knowledge that ink/printing on paper is a reflective technology. Meaning, that (sun) light bounces off of paper to create an image on the eye.

With modern technology, such as television and computer displays, they are transmissive. Thus, transmitting light to create an image on the eye.

While the eye is attracted to an object in a blank space, such as large white circle on a black printed page, what also should be considered is what is easiest or more comfortable on the eye. The near equality of use of black on white with both paper and computer displays is the focus here.

As a transmissive technology, computer displays beam large amounts of artificial light when its display is white. A large portion of the Internet's web sites have a white background. My guess would be around 80%.

This seems to me that people (and even designers) believe the print world and digital world to be equivalent to present information. Obviously, that is not true. However, omitting the additional traits that digital information can be dealt with, let us remain with the colors on a static presentation.

With completely white screen on a computer display, all pixels are on. Thus, a bombardment of transmissive light enters the eye. This is counter-intuitive to a natural eye attraction to an object.

Going back to the circle presented, we can interchange the focus appropriately for the medium (paper or computer display). A white circle on a black background for a computer display would focus all of the emitted light from the circle, which would naturally attract the eye there (both from an energetic/active level as well as an object to view). A black circle on white paper brings the eye to it because it has modified the paper by adding ink to it.

In summary, best usage of:
print = black on white
screen = white on black