(a follow-up on our discussion last week.)
What is interaction?
I don’t feel like I fully answered this question in post #1, and I had many new thoughts by the end of class last week.
To start, I really liked Jason’s point about transformation. To me, interactivity is scoped by a relationship between entities that listen and respond. When these entities interact over time, changes in behavior, memory, physicality, etc seem inevitable.
When I think about human to human interactions, I can always remember some kind of emotional response—whether that’s joy, frustration, interest, boredom. And I’m often being exposed to new information via this person interface. Whether or not it feels significant, an interaction with a new person will change me, either in a subtle way or a really palpable way.
Interactivity is not a binary definition by any means, but a continuum. For instance, how does interactivity change when it’s no longer 1-to-1, but it’s 1 to a large group?
// How does interactivity feel limited by direction and size?
For instance, a single person might speaking to a crowd. Maybe someone in the crowd might respond to the main speaker, but is only dialoguing with that single person. There might be potential for multitudes of connection/interactivity, but our context asks that the interaction happen in one direction.
// How might noise change interactivity?
I mean noise in a literal sense— like signal losses and distractions—but also lossiness of information. I found it very difficult to express certain ideas in Chinese when I was in China this summer, and gave up on certain communications. Things get lost in translation, for humans and computers.
// How do things feel more interactive if they display a multitude of behaviors?
I don’t feel like a light switch is particularly interactive; I find a furby to be slightly more interactive. A person contains multitudes, and the fact that this person is programmed with far more behaviors than a furby makes me more interested in interacting with them.
Things that are highly interactive are more conducive to building relationships. Long-term relationships, whether with people, machines, or things, lead to trust and mastery. Ideally, both “actors” begin to transform in response to one another, which happens most often with humans, and to various degrees with machines and other things.
So not only can things be more or less “interactive” on first impression, but how does that interactivity change with time?
Is something more deeply engaging on the 100th try than on the 1st, or do we start to feel emotionally detached?
(This writer has some thoughts about this, using chatbot UI as an example.)