What is interaction?

* PCOMP – first-week assignment *


Going through this assignment, my mind kept coming to the idea that asking “What is interaction?” is oddly similar to the question “What is art?”. Not because I’m implying that they are the same, but that they have the same effect on me. They have this philosophical aura around them and even Chris Crawford had his moment when he mentioned the experimental thought of if a tree falls in the forest. It’s all about perception… but it is not. In theory, we know what its art; everything made by men in order to express or understand the world that surrounds him. But, art depends on the context, and art is not art just because you called art, but because it is (and maybe because a group of people said it is, even though that is contradictory to what I just said). I want to explain the similarity of how big the question could be. But as Chris points out, interaction is the communication between two (actors), that talk, listen and think constantly with each other. Not just something that responds to the other.

That was my definition of interaction. And, I said it was because a response from the other (e.g, light sensors) is not an interaction. I’m not embarrassed to say that Chris Crawford would’ve probably rolled his eyes at me for having art in the equation and not technology in the picture.

So, Interaction is a conversation between a person and an electronic device or a technology. Chris talks about talking, listening, and thinking. Therefore interaction is dialogue, a process that creates a  ‘tete a tete’ with technology.

I enjoyed Bret Victor’s critique of how mainstream and narrowed our idea of interaction is. With computers as part of our environment, he embraces the idea of exploration. Physical computing is basic in that exploration, it allows as to search for a clear voice; it is the process through which we learn how to communicate with the technologies or devices, how to think.





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