Task 7

For the next task we would like you to look back at the concept of interactivity presented in these two articles and ponder whether the concept has gotten a new meaning 10 years later? How and in what ways the concept has changed, if at all, from your point of view? Is there something in these articles you find useful and valid nowadays? These are just some guiding questions. Finding more recent articles, Weblog posts, etc. to base your thoughts on is strongly recommended.

In my opinion interactivity is best understood by the examples of interactive media. As the term changes every day we may only follow the development of new technologies and prescribe new meanings to its definition.

The first time the term interactive was introduced to me while participating in the course of the Theories of Media and analyzing McLuhan’s book “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man”. According to the author there are two types of medias – cold and hot. The cold ones don’t need any participation from the audience, they are just transmitted and according to the first article they would be described as transmission type (TV, radio). These are becoming overwhelmed by newer media with higher degree of interaction (the hot media). Starting with conversation, consultation and registration types of media, which were being developed together with the advance of new technologies that were supposed to give more power for the users. Nowadays it is all that is counting – the individual wants to feel like the choice is laying in his hands and all depends on him. It is like divine power. Nevertheless, while improving the new technologies the border between humans and computers starts to blur out.

In order to preserve cold media their owners try to make them as interactive as possible. You can vote for your favorite singer sending an sms to the TV program, record the videos etc.

Talking about written word the first hyper-textual book was published 1963: a novel by Argentine author Julio Cortázar called Hopscotch (Spanish: Rayuela). It is different in the way that you read it – you may continue reading it page by page or go to the chapter that is indicated in the end of every previous chapter (like jumping through the chapters).

Rayuela is one of the first examples where interaction is being introduced to the media that by the definition should be not interactive. The other example from the newest technologies might be found on the following web page: http://www.esquire.com/

the paper printed magazine is made interactive and this way will keep it’s popularity. How to use it:

The similar thing is happening with web pages. The designers try to make them as interesting as possible giving more and more freedom to the surfers. An example:

  • http://dontclick.it/ – it’s different because it requires not to click but chose sub-contexts using the movements of the mouse.

Another phenomena may be observed especially in youtube. There are more and more videos where you chose the plot of the story, you decide what the main characters should do. Two interactive videos as examples:

  • The Birthday Party: An Interactive Adventure!
  • NSFW. A hunter shoots a bear! – this one is especially interesting as there are as many options as you may think of (almost).

The most popular field of interactions are of course games. There are more and more inventions that help you enjoy the stimulated reality. Here goes one example of the game that I never thought would be designed:

In order to make other spaces more interactive – not only the internet – lots of original projects are being launched. Most of them are used for publicity, obviously, as the field requires drawing as much attention as possible.  In spite of that here goes an example of quite interesting project originated in Poland:

project realized thanks to MOOV.PL.interactive media. created especially for the interior of ‘stara drukarnia’ live visuals, that react to the shadow dropped on ‘the buttons’. each ‘button’ triggers different part of mapped animation, that mixed together gives unique impression. project and animation by szymon kabala, software by mateusz azi marchwicki

There is another field of interaction that overcomes all the previously mentioned. The Implant technology – for me it is the highest level of interaction because the border between human and computer disappears.

Kevin Warwick, the first human-cyborg, had a chip connected to his neurons and by means of the implant, his nervous system was connected onto the internet in Columbia University, New York. From there he was able to control the robot arm in the University of Reading and to obtain feedback from sensors in the finger tips. He also successfully connected ultrasonic sensors on a baseball cap and experienced a form of extra sensory input. A highly publicized extension to the experiment, in which a simpler array was implanted into the arm of Warwick’s wife—with the aim of creating a form of telepathy or empathy using the Internet to communicate the signal from afar—was also successful, resulting in the first purely electronic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans. Finally, the effect of the implant on Warwick’s hand function was measured using the University of Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure (SHAP). It was feared that directly interfacing with the nervous system might cause some form of damage or interference, but no measurable effect nor rejection was found. Indeed, nerve tissue was seen to grow around the electrode array, enclosing the sensor. (from wiki)

These technological advances make us believe that everything is possible, and by the same time make us fear of the unknown powers that are coming up to the surface. Now the storyline of Futurama becomes less and less ridiculous…


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