Monday, November 29, 2010


I am often asked what the right way to record interfaces is. The answer is really that it depends what you want to know about the interfaces and that in practice you will probably want to record information at a number of levels

Let us examine another communications paradigm we are all familiar with – Bill communicating with Bob.

Should one record that:

1. Bill Communicates with Bob (remember communication may be multimodal)

2. Bill makes sounds with his mouth that Bob hears through his ears (and similar for other modes with different input and output interfaces).

3. Bill makes sounds that are communicated via a medium (e.g. air), or converted into electrical signals and transmitted via an electrical cable, to a switching mechanism etc.

See diagrams of three example options below

There are a myriad of other strategies e.g. Bill communicates with clients (and Bob is a client); or Bob's brain interprets the sounds and hears the words and emotional content, etc. Then there are the issues associated with the semantic content of the message e.g. do we want to record that Bill is communicating about Products, Pricing or whatever

Well it really depends on what we are trying to understand – if we want to understand communications flows in a organistion, or if we are designing a phone etc. It make be useful for different purposes and audiences to record this at many levels and to be able to relate these different views together.

Unsurprisingly the same is true when one considers who to record communications between applications. The way you record them varies based on the purpose. They may be recorded in multiple ways and it is very handy to be able have a way of see how all the different levels are related. But searching in vain for a single way of recording interfaces that will serve all audiences and all purposes is unlikely to be productive.

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