• looks like temporary switches (hold-to-do-something) introduce no issues for the users, but latching ones (caps lock) do
  • this seems to interplay with edit-commit, maybe edit could be a temporary mode
  • I trained myself to use vim mode as a momentary (not latching) switch
    • hold-to-type
    • hold-to-speak
  • James Lindenbaum has idea of using different tools for different modes
    • "input" pen and "magic" pen

Using the Caps Lock key to type uppercase letters and holding the Shift key to the same effect are significantly different. The first case establishes a mode; the second case does not. A set of experiments at the University of Toronto confirmed that the act of holding down a key, pressing a foot pedal, and any other form of physically holding an interface in a certain state does not induce mode errors (Sellen, Kurtenbach, and Buxton 1992). Other studies revealed the neurophysiological roots of this phenomenon: Most of our ner- vous system operates such that a constant stimulus yields signals that, in time, decrease in their ability to capture our attention. This decrease continues until our cognitive system receives no signal at all. However, the signals that report back to us whether our muscles are actively producing a force do not fade.

— The Humane Interface - Jef Raskin

Fundamentally, there are only two kinds of inputs you make to your computer or information appliance: creating content or controlling the system. The rule of thumb adopted here is this: Quasimodes are reserved for control functions. Operations you perform when no quasimode is engaged create content. It is this way rather than the other way around because it is more difficult to Operate a system while a quasimode-establishing button is being held, and it is hoped that users will spend more time creating and working with content than in using commands.

— The Humane Interface - Jef Raskin


  • two modes - either create, or review
    • curious if this can be related in any way to modes in software


  • relevant to this is what Alan Kay said in "Doing With Images Makes Symbols" - Einstein used to "feel" math in his hands, and would move around the room when thinking (spatially) - most of mathematicians and physicist do this - use tangible/spatial "modes" for thinking, and symbolic representation for communicating

Time and Experimentation

  • two modes of operation:
    • closed = execution
    • open = play/exploration

HOT Visualize Change

The tool allows users to start quickly by selecting one of predefined modes (last week, month, year), focusing on relevant viewport, and sharing the output. For experienced users we expose options to play with colors, map styles, the length, and speed of the animation.

Szymon Kaliski © 2020