This book literally blew my mind away. Not only is it beautifully and elegantly designed, but I appreciate the cleverness! It is not only entertaining to watch the letters pop out in such unique and unexpected ways, but there’s amusement in the carefully chosen way she physically andconceptually plays with the alphabet. SO AWESOME.
Reading Bill Verplank’s “Interaction Design Sketchbook” has really made me reflect on the prevalance and importance that computers have taken on in our lives today. I found his section on paradigms particularly interesting in the way that he provides an in-depth exploration to the many different roles and uses that human beings attribute to computer devices. From brains to tools to fashion, it just goes to show the major impact that technology plays in our everyday lives, not only by taking on deep-rooted significance, but by infiltrating almost every aspect/need. From Verplank’s reading, one can gain a sense of how incredibly pervasive computers have become– just as McLuhan rightly said, they have literally become extensions of us. Which might bring up an alarming question: After having relied so heavily on computers for so long, what would we be without them now? Verplank points how computers have evolved to meet our needs–from utility to transportation to expression–but have we become so dependent on technology to fulfill these desires that today’s society can not do so without the help of an electronic device? If stripped bare of technology, would we be able to cope?
Verplank claims that it is computer technology’s increasing and integrative presence in society that poses challenges to interaction design. Having said that though, it should be asked that instead of being obstacles, perhaps the fact that computers are becoming more and more ubiquitous and embedded can be used as a propelling force to make the process of interaction design better and that much more compelling? Instead of looking at the rampancy and dependency of computers as roadblocks that must be worked around, perhaps designers should use these to their advantage as foundation to build upon, in which their designs can feed off of.
Interactivity is a term that many people often throw around and slap onto things without truly knowing what it means. After reading this article, I realized that my own understanding of the term was lacking clarity, and that the general public, including myself, are often guilty of loosely applying this label without putting much thought to whether a work is really interactive or what it means for a work to be interactive.
Something is interactive if and only if it is responsive, does not completely control, is not completely controlled, and does not respond in a completely random fashion (Smuts 54).
I found Smuts’ arguments against others’ definitions of interactivity very intuitive and perceptive, and I think that his criteria for interactivity rather compelling. I particularly appreciate Smuts’ description of interactivity as not being an intrinsic property, but as being a relational property in the way that “we can interact with our environment until we can completely control it” (65). While Smuts notes that interactive games strive to find a balance between difficulty and the player’s skills, the question that must be asked is: how can you find this perfect balance to ensure interactivity– especially for each unique user who individually differ in levels of mastery?
Another interesting point of Smuts’ analysis is interactivity being equated to concreativity since it is an experience that is supposedly shaped by both the artist and the audience. He notes that many works are mistakenly labelled interactive when really, there is no real contribution coming from the audience. Instead, these works allow the audience to be stimulated and participate on a superficial level. In fact, this raises another question for me. When should you strive for interactive work rather than just an engaging work? Some people might not want interactivity in a work. Some might just want a stimulating experience and to be affected by the work. Or perhaps some might simply want control over the work, enjoying that sense of authority, but as Smuts points out, people commonly mistake control for interactivity. Therefore, I think it’s important to ask what the work strives to achieve and for who, as well as keeping in mind what this audience really wants.