Tuesday, October 23, 2012

state and interface

I wonder to what extent you can impose a stateless interface on a system which has an underlying state.

As an example, I might have a "repeat playlist" option built into my music player. There is clearly a state here since when the player is in "repeat mode" it will repeat the track, otherwise not. Typically this would have some sort of toggle item in settings. The other option though is to just give two options "repeat mode on" and "repeat mode off" in the same menu, juxtaposed, with the implication that selecting either one will leave the system in the named state, regardless of what it was before selecting the menu item.

There may be limitations to this when the possible states aren't easily flattened out like in setting some continuous quantity. In general though, I prefer absolute state markers to toggles because they can be engaged with, paradoxically, more certainty and less knowledge of the system-- unlike with mute toggle buttons--what's up with that shit?