Expanding on Jared Spool’s thoughts on learning cycles and so-called ‘intuitive’ interfaces, Vicky Teinaki discusses the ‘knowledge matrix’ and makes this interesting point that I feel almost embarrassed to have not thought about previously:

Digital devices can never be inherently ‘intuitive’, as the fact that they deal in abstraction automatically means that actions must be arbitrary. (An aside: for those who argue that much of gestural and time based interactions are intuitive, remember that this assumes a Western way of looking at space and time. Anthropologists would tell you that there are other ways.) In other words, interfaces aren’t ‘intuitive’, they’re ‘intuited’: before that, there’s nothing ‘intuitive’ about them at all.

If you’re wondering what Vicky means by this, this excerpt from Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness may enlighten you:

When we draw a time line, those of us who speak English put the past on the left, those of us who speak Arabic put the past on the right, and those of us who speak Mandarin put the past on the bottom.

It goes without saying that how we believe people read our sites is based on cultural assumptions.

via Devan Goldstein